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. 

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58 Comments on “We travel, we grow

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  1. 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.

  2. 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! 🙂

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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!

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