We travel, we grow

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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!


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. 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.

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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