Post written by Nikita
It was dark and cold in Warsaw, and I was waiting for that last connecting bus to Krakow with a Chinese man I’d met on the train. He had just finished telling me his plans for the next couple of days, which were so jam-packed even hearing about them made me feel exhausted after a busy week teaching English in Prague. Not to mention he’d be spending what I made in a month. We were not going to be weekend travel buddies.
“What about you?” he asked. “What are your plans?”
“Well, I’ve never seen Krakow, so I figured I’d just walk around, check out the city… And eat pierogies. That’s the main reason I’m here.”
“You just want to walk and eat? Why do you travel?” he asked, genuinely curious.
I firmly believe that walking and eating are two of the best things to do, regardless of where you are. I also firmly believe that there’s more to travelling than going on tours and spending a lot of money (in fact, sometimes travelling broke is better). But it was an interesting question to dwell on, so the next day, after a nice long walk and some awesome pierogies, I sat in a park, took out my notebook and scribbled a few answers.
I travel for the journey. I travel for long car rides with strangers and the inside jokes that are created, for vodka-fueled afternoons in train carriages, for hour-long sunsets as I fly through time zones. I travel to see how far my feet will carry me, how much distance I can cover before dusk.
I travel to hear stories with different settings, to hear about different experiences, different points of view. I travel so my own story will span continents, with each chapter looking a little different. Even my thought structure shifts with location. I travel to hear about the history, or to invent my own. I travel so that when I’m old and grey, I’ll have a more balanced view of the world, and a whole lot to write about.
I travel to see what’s left when you strip away comfort, to prove that my love for this wild, awe-inspiring planet is real. I travel to endure freezing weather so I can sleep with a view, for long days exploring in the heat, for sleep deprivation, for uncomfortable bus rides, for cuts, scratches, and bruises- all because it feels good knowing that there’s something worth the pain.
I travel to reestablish my faith in humanity. When you’re travelling and everything is unfamiliar, you have no safety network and you’re feeling quite confused, you’re willingly putting yourself in a vulnerable position. And there are people who will take advantage of you, but so many more who are willing to help in exchange for a smile, a story, or simply good karma. I’ve experienced too much kindness on the road for just one post, or even a novel, and each time it reminds me to be a better person myself.
I travel for the wide eyes I get when I find myself somewhere new. I travel to shock my senses, to look at the world as though I were new to it. I travel to remind myself that every evening brings a sunset worth watching, that each hill brings a view at the summit. I travel because the little differences make me so much more aware of my surroundings, so much more curious.
I travel to see what people are creating in different places. I travel for the pieces of street art I stumble upon, for the music that fills the air. In books and in galleries, by watching performers and dancing to live bands, I find a missing piece of culture. I’m seeing what my own experience never could have created. I travel to taste new fusions of flavours, to try recreating them on my own. I want to taste all the kinds of (vegetarian) foods in their lands of origin. I want to eat curries in India and drink (more) wine in France. I want to see the pieces of a culture that haven’t made it overseas, that got lost in translation.
I travel to see rage, to see passion for change. I want to see what people are getting angry about in other countries, how they feel they’re being wronged. I want to get engaged in political discussions, to see the demonstrations, to hear the bitter poetry in the local protest songs. Though specific issues differ from country to country, we all want the same basic things. We want to be heard and respected. We want to feel free, like our thoughts are our own. We want to be equal. We want to have enough to eat, to have access to clean water, to be warm. We want the best for our families, to know they’re safe. We want the best for our planet. In seeing these values reinforced, I remember that despite different passports (or lack of passports altogether), we are united as humans, and we should try to help each other out as much as possible.
I travel to learn, to fill in the blanks that formal education left out. I travel for history, for lessons in sustainability, for ancient myths. I travel to learn languages, to develop skills. I travel because I’ll never know enough to be satisfied, as long as the world has more to offer.
I travel to meet people from all over the world, to compare differences, to find similarities. I travel because other travellers are some of my favourite people, and they make me feel at home, like we’re all part of some fun-loving tribe. I love seeing how strong some of these friendships have become, that they can withstand all this distance. And now, I can’t stop travelling, because I have to meet up with all of those beautiful people again.
I travel because I’m simultaneously addicted to the call of the ocean, the majesty of the mountains, the mystery of the forest, the buzz of the cities. I travel so I don’t have to choose between a busy, cosmopolitan life and lazy afternoons in a cottage in the countryside. I travel because I want it all, because committing to one setting forever would only remind me of what I was missing.
I travel because I love the version of myself who explores the world, who isn’t shy about starting conversations with strangers, who’s bold enough to go off on her own, who’s adventurous enough to say yes to anything. I travel because it makes me more patient, more tolerant, more willing to let go. I travel because it’s already done me too much good to ignore. I travel for the challenges, the loneliness, the new encounters, the epiphanies. I travel because it brings me closer to the person I want to be.
Why do you travel?
Nikita is a traveller, dreamer, and an adventure seeker. In her blog Life in Transience she writes about budget travel, living and working abroad, overcoming adversity and serendipitous moments. Also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.