I find on so many blogs, especially ones about travel, people are always making every location seem like the best place they’ve ever been to. Or that every experience is amazing, or they talk about places you must see.
It’s great to read about this stuff, it gets you excited to visit it. It makes your heart start to race at the possibilities of the unknown, and that’s a cool feeling to have.
Do you know why most blogs give you this feeling? It’s because for the most part, it’s true. New places usually really are that great, the famous place or attraction usually is that good. But did you consider what happens around all of the famous bits? The stuff when you’re not at Disneyland or the Eiffel Tower?
Do blogs tell it all?
Have you read many posts about someone popping down to the shops? Or having to catch two busses to get somewhere in the pouring rain? Or of someone needing to get some paracetamol, and walking down an average street?
I’m guessing the answer is, no, you haven’t. Maybe it doesn’t make good reading? I’m unsure, but it’s all this general life stuff that is the meat and potatoes of travelling: it’s the bulk of it.
What’s famous in your city? State? Country?
I want you to do a little exercise for me (and for yourself). Take one minute and think of three famous things near where you’re living right now. They could be landmarks, famous buildings or galleries or museums. They could be a natural or an industrial wonder, a legend, an event.
Take a minute and think of them. Do you have these three things in your mind? Or if you couldn’t manage three, then at least one thing? Great! Now imagine going and spending a day at it, you go there and look around and take photos and get tours. You see all the amazing new stuff and history. You have a generally good time and feel good, and then you go home a write about it, even if it’s for your own enjoyment and no one else will read it.
And the results are in! But did you consider…
Thanks for doing the exercise! Now let me ask you this: when you were imagining all of this, did you imagine setting the alarm clock so you could wake up on time? Did you imagine sorting out and buying the tickets, and making sure you know when it opens and closes?
Did you imagine how you’d actually get there? Bus? Taxi? Train? Walk? Drive? Did you think about what you’d eat? Or where you’d buy food? Did you imagine being on your feet for six hours and perhaps getting tired?
I’m guessing the answer to all of this is: no, you didn’t. And THAT’S OK! When we think of travel we often don’t think about all this stuff, until we’re actually in the middle of it. But this is what travel is all about! This is the truth about life in another country, part of the truth anyway.
Travelling is the good stuff, but mostly it’s just the normal, everyday activities around it
My point with the exercise above is to illustrate the truth of travelling in another country. It’s that travel is mostly the stuff you do outside of being at the famous bits.
It’s the walking along normal streets, it’s figuring out busses and trains and being on them. It’s perhaps resting at a hotel for a few days. It’s planning if you’ll go to the ‘next thing on your list’ or not. Perhaps it’s doing a bit of grocery shopping as you’re sick of eating out all the time.
Travel is doing it all, but generally it’s taking home all the memories of the stand out bits, whether they were good or bad. As we remember the more unusual things, that’s the picture we get in our head of travel.
Essentially life and travel in another country is just that: life.
The essence of travel is normal life, but in another country.
I think it’s pretty amazing, you’re living life, but in another country. It’s not all about the all night parties, the amazing snorkelling trip, the romantic walk along the beach or the mind boggling mega structure you saw.
Sure these are the things you remember and are what get you excited, and let’s admit it: they’re pretty fricking cool to see and do and experience. But if you calculate the ratio of time you spend at places like that, compared to all the other ‘life’ stuff you do on your trip, I’d bet a return ticket to Australia the ratio is pretty small.
That’s the truth about life in another country! It’s just normal life sprinkled with memorable places and moments
So why am I telling you all this?
I’m telling you all this so you can get a feel for what travel is really like, at least from my perspective. In the world of Instagram and Facebook and filters, everything and everyone and every place looks 10/10 cool, fun, exciting. Phrases and idioms like the grass is always greener, wish I was doing that, they’re so lucky, I’m so excited to go… flash around our minds when we see them.
Everyone’s life is a journey, everyone’s life is a rollercoaster of feelings and experiences. The only difference with travel is that you’re in a different country to the one where you grew up, and you perhaps see more ‘famous’ things.
Normal life overseas on the streets of Taoyuan
The other day I went to open a bank account. Granted this isn’t a normal thing you do on holiday, but it is a normal thing you do in life. The bank told me it’d take them a couple of hours to do it.
It was early afternoon on a Friday, it was raining, it was on an average street and in an average town. It was an average day and I was doing a task that no one particularly enjoys doing: dealing with and waiting for a bank.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to wander around for a bit and take some photos. Not photos of glamours landmarks, or of amazing landscapes, or any typical oh my god this place is amazing and I hope you’re all envious of my photos and life. Just photos of normal ‘this is how it really is’ life in another country while travelling. Normal life in Taoyuan, Taiwan as I saw it that day and that afternoon.
Life is happening wherever you are and whatever you’re doing
At its base core it’s all one and the same, whether you’re at home or overseas. The only real difference is that when you’re travelling, you’re probably seeing a lot more new things, and you’re obviously in a country that’s different. You’re probably also out of your comfort zone a lot more.
I’ve learnt a crap ton being overseas, and I’ve come to learn that travel is essentially just life, at least to me anyway. I’d say I’ve learnt a lot about myself and life in general. Everyone faces problems, we all have similar wants and dreams and fears, and in many ways we all act the same.
Please take a look at my self development page for great life advice, like how to travel safely, how to make difficult decisions, how to travel without fear, how to give yourself power and confidence, and a heap more.