Long term travel beginning January 2016 with the Philippines and New Zealand
I have some exciting news to share with all of you that I’ve been holding in for a long time. For those who don’t already know, I’m going abroad long term at the end of this year! On December 31st I’m flying with my parents and sister to the Philippines. Then on January 18th I’m flying alone from the Philippines to New Zealand for a 12 month working holiday visa. This visa lets me travel around New Zealand for 12 months and work at whatever jobs I can find to supplement my funds. From there I’m not sure where I’m going. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of places I want to go. I don’t have a clear idea of how long I’ll be gone, and it’s impossible to predict how everything will go. I could be gone for only several months. I could be gone for several years. Needless to say, it’s all very up in the air and that might be what excites me the most. The possibilities are endless.
The most common reaction I get when I tell people about my plans relates to fear. Everyone asks me if I’m scared to go somewhere I’ve never been before, scared of going alone, or scared that something bad will happen to me without any family or friends to bail me out. This all boils down to fear of the unknown. Society teaches us to value security. We’re locked in routine, waking up at the same time each morning, going to the same job, eating the same things, sleeping in the same bed. Then we wake up and do the same things again. There is no room for adventure, spontaneity and that child-like sense of wonder. When I graduated college a lot of people I knew went straight to grad school, med school, or a career job. Some of them told me that’s what they did because they didn’t know what else to do, because that’s what they’re supposed to do, because we are taught that the safe choice is the right choice. A while ago I read an article featuring a palliative nurse who comforts the dying. Two of the most common regrets her patients expressed were wishing they hadn’t worked as hard and wishing they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves rather than a life others expected of them. I’m not saying that having a stable job, a big house, a nice car, or any of those things are wrong. But I am saying that you need to be able to differentiate between what you actually want and what you’re told to want. For me right now that means throwing on a backpack and seeing where the wind takes me. It doesn’t have to be that extreme. It could be something as simple as taking a class on the weekends to learn something new, like cooking or playing the guitar, or maybe devoting time to a sport or other activity you’re passionate about.
If you asked me even a week ago I would’ve told you that I’m not scared. But now that I have less than a week left in the states it feels very real. Change, especially big change like this, can be jarring and uncomfortable. I have to admit that I am a little scared, but fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I read a quote once that said “fear is a compass pointing you in the direction you need to grow.” In order to grow we need to seek out new challenges and face our fears. And if we aren’t growing, we’re regressing.
Solo travel is one of the most valuable life experiences in this regard. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and take risks. You will have face challenges alone with nobody there to hold your hand. And through this you will discover just how independent and powerful you really are. Travel is also one of the most important forms of education. Experiencing different cultures and connecting with people you would otherwise never have had the chance to meet opens your eyes and allows you to see the world with a different perspective. It changes the way you relate to others and teaches you that there is no one right way to live. Lastly, though no less valid, travel is adventure. The world is huge and there is so much to see in our limited time here. Why not see all that you can? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Again, this is not to say that travel is the one and only right way to live, to grow, and to gain new perspective. It’s simply the method that I choose at this moment.
Those are just some of my thoughts about travel, why it’s important, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions. I’m not completely sure what this blog will turn into. In the summer I made a blog about my train trip across Canada with my younger sister detailing each city we visited, but that quickly turned into a chore rather than something I found fun. What was fun was writing about some of the interesting and inspiring people that I met along the way. I have a feeling this blog will turn into a mix of the two, interspersed with my own thoughts and feelings about my personal journey. Feel free to follow along if you’re interested, leave comments, suggest places for me to go, etc. You can also follow along on my instagram (KristianRTW) for some of my more interesting photography if pictures speak to you more than words.