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Living in Malta could be quite limiting due to its small size and due to being, well, an island. So small in fact that its minuscule size as a country was used to make a point in an American show. Irrelevant of the topic, have a look at this humorous 15 second clip from Last Week Tonight.
This fact limited my travel experiences as to set foot off the island you have to catch a flight. Malta has a lot of culture and history but very little in terms of nature and not much in terms of adventure and wildlife. Don’t get me wrong; Malta is a beautiful place and bliss if you like sun, sea and partying all the time. I swear we have a party for all occasions! But if on the other hand you are like me and love the cold winters, snow and forests you are dead out of luck
How I got started.
I got a late start to travel. I had never been abroad with my family, and I stepped on my first plane at the age of 18 to Northern Ireland. Although I always had a heartfelt curiosity and an inclination to experience the world that I saw on all the TV show (yes TV, the internet was still a rare commodity at that time), I had no idea of how much I would love the experience of stepping off a plane and setting foot in a whole different country. I discovered a new sense of independence, experienced new cultures, met people and saw parts of history. From that first trip I was hooked, and I have strived to travel as much as possible, with a typical greeting from friends now being; ‘Where are you off to next?’ They know I always have a destination or two or ten in mind.
But travel is not just about the destination. It is about the people we meet and the experiences we have. It’s about the smells, the sounds, and the way that place makes us feel. It is the best education you can get from life. So why should you travel?
1. To find yourself
Travel is not just about setting foot in a different country and eating all the food (although that is always a plus). It is about the person that we become. You find yourself and develop skills you never knew you had or needed. Be it the resilience to keep going after a long day of travelling or walking; because most probably you will never be in that place again, or the courage to speak to that seeming scary local for directions and he turns out to be the sweetest most helpful guy.
2. To challenge yourself
Travel challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and keeps you feeling alive. It is easy to go to the same spot or two near your house, but it is a whole different situation when this spot is new and in a different country. How do I get there? Do they have reliable public transport? Can I drive there? Are the roads easy to follow? What if I get lost? Oh, and you will get lost, but that is part of the experience. And things will go wrong, but that is another skill you acquire; to be flexible. I started as a rigid planner. My first few trips were planned to the minute, with routes pre-planned on google maps and all details figured out. But then life happens on your trips, and you learn to roll with the punches and challenge yourself to still make the best of the experience.
3. To stay grounded and keep your priorities in order
Being in a repetitive routine in life can often cause you to lose sight of what is significant in life. Repetition can make everything seem boring, and you can easily overlook all the great thing that you are lucky enough to have. Having a break from your routine will help you realize what you are fortunate enough to have and what is important in your life. Experiencing how other people live and thrive in whatever their country has put in their way, be it harsh weather or other tough life condition, has taught me to never take anything for granted and to appreciate what life has given me with all its rewards and challenges.
4. To enrich your life
Looking back, most memories I look fondly towards are those involving new places, cultures and people. Travelling gives you experiences worth sharing and unforgettable memories.
5. To develop a different perspective on the world and its people
Travelling gives you a different outlook on life. You don’t just take the word of other people or the media; you experience the place yourself, meet locals and live the cultures. It is fascinating how people in different countries, even if close to your hometown have evolved in different ways with different customs and ways of life. But most importantly, the more you discover and talk to people around the world, the more you realize that with all our differences we are so similar.
6. To taste the food
Need I add more? But let me anyway. Any meal I do not have to cook is usually a good one, but it is often much better when it introduces me to an array of flavours which are foreign to me. The more exotic the better. If it looks strange or sounds unusual rest assured that I’m going to try it. Do I always like it? Of course not, but I had that experience and now I know what it tastes like, and to never try it again!
7. To learn to be respectful of different cultures
You may be on a relaxing holiday on the quest to find yourself, but locals are just going about their day to day life. They have chores to get done and families to go to. I have been lucky enough to meet the most helpful (sometimes even too helpful, yes referring to you lovely Thai people) people in my travels and it has always been a treat to interact with them, but keep in mind that what may be considered cool in your home town may be rude or even offensive in other cultures.
8. Find your own reason
I once planned a trip with my colleagues because one of them had a bad morning. “Feeling angry? We should travel.” And we planned a short trip. Find your own motivation to travel. Be it because you are happy or sad, need a break or just been through a breakup, you want to taste delicious food or immerse yourself in a new culture. Whatever your reason may be, get out there and explore the world.
Where was your first or most memorable trip? And where are you planning to go next?