Near San Agustín, Colombia
A couple of months ago (was it already that long ago?!) I wrote a post called On Being Happy With Being Content. In it, I discussed how since moving to London I’ve embraced the idea of settling somewhere and the feeling of happiness I get from routine in my life. To be completely honest, I wrote that post to try to make sense of what I was feeling at the time, the restlessness mixed with the feelings of withdrawal from a life of almost constant travelling. My two-year London anniversary is coming up this summer, and it’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since 2005. I haven’t even left the UK in two and a half months, the longest I think I’ve gone in a while without being abroad.
Writing that post really helped me, and the comments that came with it really helped me. As a result, the past couple of months in London have been some of my happiest yet; I’m a lot healthier in mind and body. I write daily now, and I’ve even started jogging. I know, I know. Who am I?!
Seoul, South Korea
That being said, I am never going to deny that some of the happiest days of my life have been while I was on the road. So today, in honour of International Day of Happiness (don’t roll your eyes), I thought I’d post some of the reasons I personally feel happy when I travel. I’d love it if you could contribute why travelling makes you happy in the comments.
Travelling makes me happy…
…because of its never-ending ability to amaze me, to pique my curiosity. It seems that no matter where I go, even if I’ve already been there or if I think I have an idea of what I’ll see when I arrive, I am always surprised. I love the newness travel brings: new cultures, new faces, new customs, new landscapes.
Machu Picchu, Peru
…because of all of the wonderful people I meet. While beautiful destinations certainly appeal (especially if it includes a beach), I travel mainly to meet and interact with people. My favourite moments on the road have all occurred in the presence of others, either locals or fellow travellers.
…because it overloads my senses in the very best way. I live in one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world and sometimes I realise I’m tuning everything out, because I’m used to the glittering lights and double-decker buses and accents from all over the globe. When I travel, I become hyper-aware of everything around me: the sights, the sounds, the smells. I love that first day in a new city, when you just wander around and take it all in.
…because of all the delicious food I get to eat. Be it a local beer, an infamous sandwich, or a selection of treats from a street market, I always try to sample the cuisine of any place I’m in. And yes, that includes the things I may not always want to try; I can’t say that I particularly wanted to eat snake hearts when in Vietnam, but I’m happy that I at least had the opportunity to do so.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
…because it makes me feel engaged, interested, and fulfilled. I like who I am when I travel, I like how I go with the flow, how I’m open-minded, how I laugh with my head thrown back. I’m not saying I’m totally different in London, but travelling seems to unlock a part of me that I love to embrace.
In the Himalayas, Nepal
…because it makes me learn about myself. There’s that incredibly cheesy cliché that “you have to get lost to really find yourself”; I don’t necessarily think it takes a backpack and a plane ticket to India to really discover who you are, but travelling certainly brings some aspects of your personality to light. Are you organised? Punctual? Curious? Do you like cobblestoned European cities or secluded mountain hikes? If there’s an emergency and you’re halfway around the world, can you handle yourself? I love that travelling has made me realise things about myself I didn’t know until I was thrown into situations I wouldn’t have (or couldn’t have) experienced at home in Canada.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
…because it has made me realise that no matter what, I’m going to be okay. Travelling has made me incredibly independent. If I want to book a trip to Africa by myself, I know I can do it. If I want to move to a new city where I don’t have any connections, I know I can do it. Travelling has made me a much more self-sufficient and ambitious person than I could have ever dreamed of becoming ten years ago.
…because it represents how special my life is. I often read about travellers who hate when people tell them, “You’re so lucky, you get to travel all the time”. I get the sentiment behind their aggravation, but I personally don’t mind at all when people say that to me. In fact, I try to say it every day to myself, because, yeah, I’m lucky. I’m really lucky. Like other full-time travellers and travel bloggers, I worked hard to get where I am, but a lot of people on this planet work very, very hard and barely get any holiday time, if at all. And even with that holiday time, a lot of people cannot afford to travel to far-flung destinations. I’m well aware how amazing and enriched my life has been because of travel, and I am thankful every day for it. There are very few people who get to choose what they want to do with their lives, and I’m one of them. I’d say that makes me pretty damn lucky. It also makes me happy.
…because it reminds me, at the end of the day, that we’re all in this together. The one thing I’ve learned from all of my travels and from all of the experiences I’ve had with others around the world is that we’re all alike. We all dream and love and laugh. We all take pleasure in the small things: meals with friends, a sunny day, an unexpected moment of happiness with a stranger. Travelling has made me aware of how inconsequential so many things are, be they material items or moments of frustration or sadness. It has helped me to let go of the small things that used to bother me so much, and instead introduced me to the idea of embracing each day with a smile and an open mind. Essentially, travelling makes me happy because it has taught me to be happy*.
Tayrona Park, Colombia
Why does travelling make you happy?
*If this post seems particularly hippie-dippy/cheesy/has-she-been-smoking-the-good-stuff, I apologise. I’m puppy-sitting today, and I’m in a freaking fantastic mood.