The plane ascends. The bubble bursts. Back to reality.
The shift from normality to exploration and then back to normality is immense. The mindset you have when you travel is like no other. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed it, and it’s only been a few months. There is nothing more exciting than having a bag on your back and your passport in hand, because the unknown is alluring and full of endless potential: who knows what might eventuate. Although this trip was a short and domestic one, Sydney was the breath of fresh air I hadn’t realised I’d been waiting for. Five days away from the monotony of uni and work life was like being in the life of a different person. That person knows no one, has no obligations or time restraints. I was FREE.
It’s a bit ridiculous how one can feel quite lonely one minute, when landing in a foreign city or country with no connections or knowledge, and then so sociable the next. It really is impossible to be lonely in a hostel dorm with 14 backpackers coming in and out at all hours of the day and night. Mad Monkey Hostel in Kings Cross, Sydney, was home for 4 nights, and although it wasn’t the best one I’ve stayed in, the people there more than made up for the slightly funky smells and questionable kitchen equipment.
It truly is amazing how once you slip into the travel mode, you view everything in a slightly different way. You interact with people that you wouldn’t normally, such as strangers at a train station or the nice lady eating a stir-fry next to you at a ferry port. Looking back to before I travelled around Europe, I definitely wouldn’t have initiated the interaction prior to that. It’s a hard perspective to explain, but the way you converse with others is sort of the stepping stone to making a friend to visit Manly with, heading to a BBQ on Coogee Beach or drinking too many bourbons and vodkas on a Saturday night. When you live in your usual city, you already have your network of friends and allies with whom you make memories. When you travel, everyone you meet has the potential to be a life long friend, a friend to have breakfast with or the person who lends you a hoodie on your first night cause you’re a bit cold.
I was chatting to one of the other travellers in the hostel and he said to me that I should wait a few years to explore more, because with more years of life experience I will appreciate it more and get more out of it. Although he couldn’t articulate exactly what he meant without sounding quite condescending, I got his point. Just look back on who you were a year, or three years ago. I know I have changed immensely in the last 12 months, let alone 36. I can definitely appreciate his point that you have a different view as you get older, but for me, that’s no reason to wait to explore – I’ll just compare my experiences THEN with the ones I’m having NOW, and keep the amateur introspection up in the process.
Travelling is FUN. If you haven’t done it, I implore you to go for it. Even if it’s just for a night in the next closest city, just stay in a hostel and see how you like it. If you don’t, you don’t, but I’m willing to bet that you will not regret it.