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We travel, we grow

meaningful travel

We travel, we grow. We travel to find ourselves. Something about the journey not the destination. I’ve definitely seen that somewhere on a bummer sticker or a t-shirt. Maybe it was just a quote on Pinterest.

Whatever the impetus, I’ve always been a big believer in traveling for a reason.

I never travel for the sake of travel. Rather I go because of deep curiosities and to conquer my fears and work on more #fearlesstravel. In fact, I like to think of myself as a profoundly curious individual. You know that Hermione-esque girl in class who always had her hand up? Yeah, that was me. And who am I kidding? That’s STILL me. You know that person on a tour who pesters the guide incessantly with questions? Moi.

“Why does this work like that? What does that do? Can I touch this? What does this mean? Are you single?”

You know, the usual. My mind never shuts up. Ever.

meaningful travel

So why do we travel? Why do I travel? What sustains me to keep going after all these years?

Easy. Curiosity. And personal growth.

I travel because I want to learn. I travel because I want to become a better human. You know, the simple stuff, right?

I encourage you all to be curious. I think we as adults are not encouraged enough to be curious, especially women. Our questions often seem an annoyance rather than positive. Or is that just me? My advice is to ignore them all, ask your questions. Be curious.

meaningful travel

I think we live in a world that is saturated with imagery, philosophies, ideologies and ideas thrown into our faces 24/7.

I’ve been traveling and living abroad on and off for the past decade and I’ve always been a slow traveler. I like to take my time, get to know places, dig my feet into the sand and look around to see what makes a place tick. While I would never presume to say that my travel style is for everyone, I would love to take the opportunity to say that I think we live in a busy world and slowing down, especially traveling, is good for you.

I see so many bucketlists and hear about people ticking countries off a list, and it frustrates me. You don’t “do” a country. The focus should be on the experience and the stories, at the risk of sounding cliche, the journey. The numbers don’t matter. The names don’t matter. What matters is what you take away from the experience. Your memories.

That’s why I often go back to places I’ve been before. My curiosity only grows and I only want to dig a little deeper. I love being a know-it-all.

meaningful travel

For me, one of the countries that had the biggest impact on me was Mongolia. Without a doubt, Mongolia is a place that deeply moved me, inspired me and changed my life. Before spending a month with the ethnic Kazakh eagle hunters, I was enjoying life in New Zealand and traveling when the opportunity popped up.

Before I even got on that rickety old soviet plane to the middle of nowhere in western Mongolia, I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it would take everything I had and then some. But I wasn’t expecting it to have such a profound impact on me.

Spending time with Kazakh people of Mongolia changed how I viewed the world and how I saw myself. For the first time I was faced with the blinding sharp reality of what mattered and what didn’t. Life became clearer and easier, and I knew from then on, I wanted my travels to always test me in some way, teach me a new skill and challenge me.

meaningful travel

Mongolia taught me to be generous in ways that I was only selfish before. It taught me about what matters and what doesn’t. It taught me to really appreciate the simple things I am privileged with that millions don’t have (toilets, clean water, easily accessible doctors and a diet that’s not based on yak butter and sheep heads).

Mongolia taught me to be strong.

Nothing like getting thrown off a horse on a mountain pass (twice) in the most remote region of the world to make you harden up.

meaningful travel

While this might just be me, I’ve found that the higher the risk involved, the more rewarding the trip can be. Within reason, guys.

While a weekend away in Rome catching up on the ancient sites and eating gelato in front of the Coliseum can be a dream come true, it’s not quite on the same page as tracking polar bears in the high Arctic while carrying a rifle (it’s the law).

In fact, I’m a firm believer that if a trip or adventure doesn’t make you cry at least once, you’re not learning.

meaningful travel

This means before every trip I do quite a bit of research to make sure that I am prepared. I make sure my health and Clements property insurance is up to date and will cover me there in case of the worst, and then I take the plunge. In fact, I’m fairly convinced buying insurance will keep you from having anything go wrong; it’s when you don’t have it that you should worry.

I’m not a particularly risky person, and in fact I have quite a lot of fears, but traveling is one of the best ways to conquer them and help me move forward with my life, which is why I always am moving forward.

I’m all about conquering fears while traveling, and I think we all need to work towards more #fearlesstravel.

Ask people about a place before going. Only listen to people who have first-hand experience. Do your research and assess the risk involved. Protect yourself and yourself with good insurance with people like Clements like I do. Then take a leap of faith and just do it. Oftentimes the hardest part is taking the plunge from just talking about something to actually making it happen. Book the ticket.

meaningful travel

Ultimately, how you travel is up to you. But I encourage everyone to be openminded. Instead of going to a place just to say “hey I’ve been there” I would push you ask yourself why. Why do you want to go there? Really think about it. Every trip I take now revolves around the why.

Try and conquer a fear. Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to. Discover a new way of living.

The world is the best classroom; take advantage. Be open to her lessons. I know that sounds cheesy, but just go with it.

Travel is meaningful; it’s meant to change us. You just have to be open to it.

Where have you traveled that was meaningful to you? Where’s your Mongolia? Has a place ever changed you or inspired you in some way? What are your tips for #fearlesstravel? Share in the comments below!

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Many thanks to Clements for protecting me over the years – like always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me. 

50 Responses to We travel, we grow

  1. Katie @ the tea break project November 4, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    Excellent post – I couldn’t agree more. As a society, we definitely need to slow down and look deeper. I get really annoyed when people say they’ve ‘done’ a place, whether that’s a country or a city or even just a single site. There’s always more to discover, even in the same square mile that surrounds your own house. How can you ever completely ‘do’ anywhere?

    Sometimes I do love a weekend break, as a way of dipping my toe in the water, and discovering whether it’s somewhere I’d like to go back to (Croatia, Morocco…) but longer travel is much more challenging and rewarding. I’ve yet to do a trip that truly pushes me physically (maybe that should be my next goal!) but a few years ago I moved to Melbourne for 11 months, and that was a real emotional challenge. A tear-and-snot-filled break-up followed by a 23-hr flight will do that to a girl… But in the end, totally worth it!

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      Love it!

  2. Annalisa Giorgieri November 4, 2016 at 1:50 am #

    I totally agree with everything I just read! Needed some inspiration today and found this blog post! Thanks a lot!
    Annalisa

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      Yay thanks!

  3. stephanie November 4, 2016 at 2:22 am #

    Great article! I agree with you. Travelling is great and changes you for ever. However it means something different to everyone. I think each country I visit will teach me something; either about myself or on how I see things.
    I now enjoy the little things way more 🙂

    I’ve never been to Mongolia, but it sounds like an incredible country!
    x

  4. Lynne November 4, 2016 at 3:38 am #

    Fabulous post, Liz! I so agree that you need to “experience” a place. And travel is, indeed, life changing…

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      totally agreed!

  5. Pier November 4, 2016 at 4:59 am #

    Absolutely wonderful post! Wholeheartedly agree with what you say here, and thank you for being such an inspiration 🙂

  6. Casey November 4, 2016 at 5:15 am #

    Interesting point of view on why we travel. I’m not sure I fully agree with your take on traveling just to travel but I hear what you’re saying and agree with some of your other points in this post. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with traveling just to travel. Not only that, many times we find answers and learn more than we expected when we travel “just to travel” because often times we are looking to learn something we didn’t even realize we were questioning. I also think that regardless of what your motivating factor is for traveling, you still learn something even if that wasn’t your intention…

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      exactly

  7. Tina November 4, 2016 at 5:37 am #

    True and meaningful words, Liz! Some people call themselves travelers or even better travel bloggers and all they do is ticking places off their so-called bucket lists without filling their minds and hearts with unique memories and useful lessons which will bring them a step forward in their lives.
    We also like to blog about our adventures, but not at any price! What counts more than the amount of air miles and kilometers passed is personal growth and happiness! In the end we travel to be happy and to go beyond ourselves!

    Here is our personal answer why we travel

    http://www.acoupleofcountries.com/?p=646&olang=en&lang=en

    Thanks for your inspiration!!!

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      Cheers!

  8. Yasmina November 4, 2016 at 5:39 am #

    So true!

    So many people only do the more convenient trips just for showing off but not to experience something special. Worst part, they mostly have prejudices against some countries and just won’t go there.
    For example: I have been to Jordan this year and everyone was telling me to not go there because of the IS and the whole situation in Middle East. And this is so sad because they really struggle with tourism lately – which was good for us as we don’t like it crowded but it was so sad to experience that no one would go there now. And of course for no reason. It’s a super safe country, not to mention how beautiful it is…

    So open your eyes, make your own experiences for your own opinion.

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      Agreed Jordan is magical!

  9. Kelsey November 4, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    This is so true! India was my Mongolia. It completely changed the way I travel and even my everyday life. India helped my to stop sweating the small stuff and really enjoy being in the moment. It also helped me appreciate every opportunity I have. It’s an amazing country filled with so much beauty, but definitely the hardest place I have ever traveled to, by far. I hope to go back many more times!

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      I haven’t been!

  10. Madi | Restless Worker November 4, 2016 at 6:43 am #

    I agree and disagree with you in many ways. It’s hard to quantify how or what makes a person learn. Maybe someone who is travelling outside of their country for the first time and is eating that gelato or looking at the Colosseum is learning what it really means to travel and to experience while having challenged themselves for leaving in the first place. While I agree that some experiences shape you more than others you can’t take away all experiences because they aren’t as ‘authentic’. My first trip to Bali taught me a lot more about myself than I had learned in many other life experiences. Yet, Bali isn’t necessarily a ‘tough’ place to travel to. For me it was a completely different world from what I had known and pushed me outside my comfort zone more than I thought it would.

    While I also agree that there’s not such thing as ‘doing’ a country, there are people (myself included) who try to get to as many different places as possible for the chance to experience. Not everyone has weeks or months on end to spend exploring a new place. Being able to go somewhere new for a week or a few days may not give you a complete look into a countries culture it gives you a snippet and a cliff note version (to say the least). If this is all people can afford than at least they are venturing out and exploring.

    Just my thoughts, great post though Liz 🙂

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      I totally agree!

  11. Aimee Gabay November 4, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    I can totally resonate with this post, I too am a firm believer in learning and challenging yourself through travel and I must admit I get a little annoyed when people spend bucketloads to stay in a resort by the pool. The price they’d pay for that all inclusive trip that consists of just tanning and shopping I could probably do half of South East Asia for about three months or more (probably more). However I must say I do enjoy a good bucket list, its not about ticking things off the list, in my opinion its more about motivating me to actually go out and do the things I wish to do. Great post though! 🙂

    • Liz November 4, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks!

  12. Stephanie Craig November 4, 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    There are so many different ways to travel. I hope people go on many different types of adventures. I didn’re realize you were in Mongolia for so long-Mongolia is my number one dream destination. I need to wait to go until I’m healthier. So far, I’m much stronger than I was before I started travelling full time, but I’m still way too out of shape to survive there outside of a glam tour. Not that the glam tours in Mongolia are all that glam, but you know what I mean. There are some adventures that I’m dying to go on that are motivating me to make changes to my body and mind so I’ll be ready down the road. I think Mongolia will probably take me 2 years before I lose enough weight to be comfortable living on a horse for a month.

    • Liz November 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

      Sounds like a good goal!

  13. Mariah November 5, 2016 at 2:57 am #

    SUCH an on-point post! I love it. My Mongolia was six months in the Republic of Georgia. It is a captivating place in the least romantic sense of the word and I have never grown so much (or cried on the streets out of pure frustration so much) with any other trip. Immersing yourself for longer periods of time in cultures and languages and foods that aren’t your own (potatoes and bread–at least no sheep heads!) is rewarding way more in the aftermath than it seems at the time. I wouldn’t trade those 6 months for anything in the world, and it only made me stronger!

    • Liz November 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      oh wow!

  14. Melissa November 7, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Great post. For me, two trips that really affected me deeply happened this year, when I got to visit rural Cambodia and Uganda for work. Seeing, first-hand, poverty and lack of access things I’d never once imagined having to live without (like, as you said, toilets), impacted me deeply and really made me think about what life is like for so many people around the world who lack the basics I take for granted and yet still manage to find a way to survive and carry on. I’m so grateful for these experiences and I know they’ll stay with me for the rest of my life.

    • Liz November 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

      wow amazing!

  15. R November 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    Thanks for this post, Liz! I quit work to travel for a year. This topic of meaningful travel has been in my head. I didn’t know how to quite express it, but you discussed it beautifully!

    I like the reminder to ask ourselves why we travel. I know I want to do it for more than just IG pictures. It gets exhausting quickly to constantly be hopping from one place to the next. Keep the advice coming if you have more to say on this topic.

    Ps. I think you meant “assess” when you wrote this: “Do your research and asses the risk involved.”

    • Liz November 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      CRAP!

  16. Admirer November 8, 2016 at 12:25 am #

    Hei! Do you mind if i pinn (to pinterest or weheartit) one of your pic, i will ofcourse add a caption and mention you and the link to this website and post 🙂 ? You have such beautufull and inspirational posts and i can’t find all of them from your pinterest.

    • Liz November 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      sure

  17. Milica Kolaric November 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    Before reading this post I was stressed out about my grade in physics but the mention of yak butter and sheep heads definitely showed me a new perspective and instantly made me grateful. I need to be more excited about life and traveling and focus less on the little things.

    • Liz November 10, 2016 at 9:49 am #

      hahaha excellent!

  18. Tracy November 9, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

    Nice post! For me it was Nepal! Have you been?

    • Liz November 10, 2016 at 9:50 am #

      not yet 🙂

  19. Katie November 10, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    Beautifully said. I’m just about to head off to Guatemala for my first long-term travel and am feeling like a big ball anxiety and excitement. But my biggest fear is that traveling will end up being a waste of my time and potential. Your post and others’ comments were exactly what I needed – that satisfying my curiosity and experiencing different ways of life can be meaningful in themselves.

    • Liz November 10, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      Thanks!

  20. Sally November 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    I love to travel and I am enjoying travelling with my 3 kids and showing them what is wonderful about the world. We have been to some wonderful places and had some brilliant experiences but I have to learn to slow it down a bit. I pack so much into every holiday that we all come home more tired then when we left.
    I always say I’m not going to do it next time but next time comes around and I feel like I have to pack it all in just in case we never get back here!! We are heading to Thailand next year and I have told myself it’s going to be a resort holiday (like really what’s that, I won’t last 2 mins!) now it’s morphed into the kids would really love Phi Phi Island….. its starting again!!
    I just need to CALM DOWN!!

    • Liz November 17, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

      I love families that travel!!

  21. Andrew Scott November 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    Great post, Liz! I completely agree with your idea that you grow the most by putting yourself in difficult, uncomfortable situations. I recently got back from a trip to Macedonia–which, while in Europe, still lacks many of the basic features of modern life (especially if you’re staying with a local family rather than the swanky hotels) that I grew up with–and it completely made me reevaluate my perspective on material goods. Keep sharing this important message. 🙂

    • Liz November 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

      I’ve never been but it’s on my list.

  22. Lini Antony November 24, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    Good post Liz. I always remember a quote whenever travels comes to my mind, “Take vacations – go as many places you can. You can always make money, You can’t always make memories”.
    Hope you are enjoying each second of travel.
    Keep sharing your experience.

    • Liz November 26, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Love that!

  23. Blue Pearl Holidays November 25, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    Thanks a lot for sharing such an awesome blog.

    • Liz November 26, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks!

  24. Megan M November 29, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Man, the part you said about if the adventure doesn’t make you cry, you are not learning. I’m a long-distance hiker and that resonates with me. I’ve always said I’m not really on the trail until I’m sitting on the side of a mountain crying. That’s when I’m fully in the experience. It’s true to travel also. You grow when you challenge yourself.

  25. Peggy December 2, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    Summiting Kilimanjaro was my #fearlesstravel experience. My partner kicked out at 5,500m on the ascent due to AMS, leaving me to go up with my guides. By the time we hit 5,700m I was a silent wreck of a person, just putting one foot in front of the other. Thinking was too hard. But the descent, after 12 hours of walking, was what made me cry. Didn’t think I could do it, but I did. That’s what travel does for me – pushes my boundaries, reveals hidden depths.

  26. Ganool December 6, 2016 at 6:16 am #

    Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. ^_^

  27. Patricia December 19, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    Great post! And I agree with soaking it all in when I travel. If I only have a few days, I generally prefer to stay in that city or nearby, rather than trying to cram in a different city every day. That way I can spend hours in a museum or sitting and watching the daily life over lunch and a glass of wine. Early in the summer I spent a few days in Lisbon, and could have used a few more!

    Thanks for sharing!

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