Stress with my book, my degree, with money… none of these things are all-consuming or life-changing. None of these things are even that bad. Taken individually, I probably would have shrugged my shoulders and chalked whatever it was up to, you know, the ebb and flow of life. But for whatever reason, the combination of these things made me reach my boiling point. I just got kinda sad.
And here’s what I decided to do about it…
I’m always a little bit wary of people who say they have no regrets. Really? Not one? There’s not one thing you would change about your past, not one decision you made or sentence you said that you’d like to take back? I used to be one of those people who said “no regrets!”. I used to write it in my high school journals after asking a boy out and getting rejected, or missing out on a party because I felt uncomfortable with who I was. In my fifteen-year-old mind, these were all the regrets that I could possibly have.
Yesterday was my birthday; I turned thirty-one years old. As much as I love my life and feel proud of (most of) what I’ve done, I still have regrets, some big, some tiny. Instead of banging my head against the wall in shame, however, I’m trying to take those regrets and learn from them. If those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, I’m going to try to do the opposite. Here are some of my regrets, and why I’ve learned to embrace them.
When I received an email from a reader last week with the title “How did you choose?”, I knew instantly it was going to be about choosing travelling over a) a “steady” career b) an education or, most likely, c) a relationship. In her words:
“I have thought about the pros and cons for all of these. The main thing on my mind is, with the last two options, I would most likely become single. I would hate to not be able to travel just because my boyfriend wants to settle down, but I also worry about never finding someone if I keep moving around.” Turning 26 soon, Rebecca told me that many of her friends are in serious relationships or engaged/married. At the end of the email, she wrote, “And so, after all that, my question to you is… how has your choice to keep travelling affected the boyfriend/marriage path of life?”
I’ve been through a lot of customs and immigration experiences. For the past year and a half living in London, for example, I go through customs and immigration about two or three times a month, depending on where I travel. As I travel on a Canadian passport, every single country – including my own – checks my passport and usually asks me a few questions (as opposed to anyone with an EU or UK passport, for example).
I’ve written about how to cope with customs and immigration before; I wrote that article a few weeks before I returned to Canada from nine months in Central and South America, and I was worried what kind of questions they’d ask. I always remember my dad telling my sister not to let Colombian officials stamp her passport… uh, it doesn’t work like that, dad. Anyway, in all the travelling I’ve done, and I’m sure, that you’ve done, there have been some harrowing, stressful, hilarious, and just downright weird experiences when crossing borders. Here are just a few I’ve had.
Of the countries I’ve been to, I loved my Indian wardrobe the best. My biggest piece of advice, no matter where you go, is to shop locally. My dream is to one day arrive in a place like Thailand or India with a completely empty backpack and purchase all of my clothing there; not only is it usually much cheaper than clothes in Canada or the UK, but you’ll have a lot more fun with your fashion. Here are a few of the things I wore while in India.
Since leaving my hometown, I have had some odd Christmases. There was the hungover McDonald’s meal last year with my sister; a day on the beach in Borneo springs to mind, too, as does a barbecue on a warm Christmas in New Zealand. This year, I’ll be spending the holidays in Nicaragua with my family. It’s the first time my sister, brother, and mum have been together for a Christmas day in seven years, and I can’t wait.
The trip is obviously the most amazing gift I could ever ask for. But, if I was going to be completely greedy, here are a few things I would put on a Christmas list. Some of them I already am lucky enough to have, and so would love to give a friend or family member, but these are the things I think make perfect gifts for travellers.