Travelling changed me! It opened my mind, shifted my priorities, changed the way how I interact and how I see myself personally.
I started travelling when I was 21 years old with a road trip through the west of the USA. (read about it)
I visited my flat mate in the USA, who did an internship for 6 months in Denver. As I returned I wanted to live abroad for a while as well. As I am always going to get what I want, I applied for a thesis project in China. I moved there for a time frame of 6 months. (read about it)
Afterwards the travel bug had bitten me. I started travelling through the world!
Where everything started
When I studied automotive engineering my big goal was the big business career. High rated job where you need to wear a suit, company cars, long working hours, all this status symbols that are made up in our society to symbolize “success”!
I did everything for a perfect CV and finished my master in just 4 years with the age of 22. I immediately started a trainee program for a American company and moved for 8 month to a little town in France. Afterwards I moved to Stuttgart. Leaving my personal life back in Munich and concentrating everything I did on the goal to enter the management career as fast as possible. Patience was never one of my talents.
What has happened with me?
Wait! There was something in between me graduating and my career start. My time in China and my months of travelling afterwards. In this time, I travelled through South East Asia and again in the USA.
I met people travelling long term and I got to know the backpacker lifestyle. With this I got to know styles of living I have never thought about before. I have met people with so many different stories and I got a little insight of what the world has to offer.
Anyhow all this experiences didn’t prevent me from keep on following my on-going plan about starting my career and entering the materialistic world.
On the one side I had everything I always wanted. What I thought I always wanted.
My friends and family were proud of me to enter into a promising career and future, my entry salary was outstanding, I had a company car from the first minute and the company even paid for my accommodation while the first 8 months.
But there was something starting to rumor within myself!
Questions in my head
I didn’t take too long until I started questioning of what I was doing. In university I was free to do whatever I wanted to do and when. The only goal was to pass the exams but when and how was totally up to me.
When I travelled I was free anyway, no responsibilities, no plan. Where to go and how to go there was up to me, same as my timing.
Suddenly I was tacked in the 9-5-routine and people telling me what to do and when. There was no freedom anymore, not in timing, not in the decisions about my activities, not about the people I surround myself with.
“Why do I feel so trapped?!”
“Isn’t that all I wanted, all I was working for, why I speeded so up with my studies?!”
We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything (Quote of Jonah Lehrer)
Back then I wasn’t able to figure out what was going on. I thought it is that I don’t like the French village I was living in. I thought as soon as I am moving to a bigger city again everything would be fine.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t! Also let me tell you, it took me a long time and a lot of trips to figure out what was the actual problem.
I kept on going
I tried to follow my paths for a few years and thought if I just achieve the next big thing, project or job or whatever, everything would turn out the way I imagined it. While I was studying I had all this nice pictures in my head.
Beside of following my career I didn’t stop travelling. Every single time I could get off I jumped on an airplane, that brought me out into the world. Every trip taught me its lesson, every trip made my mind clearer until, out of nothing, the solution about my problem back home became clear:
The problem is the lifestyle – the problem is me not caring about material stuff anymore, the problem is me not seeing any sense in what I am doing.
I had shifted my priorities. I have found something that was far more important and fulfilling to me than my current career could ever be or anything money could every buy.
I can’t really tell you when there was the point that I finally realized that all the things I was chasing at home were not the things which make me happy.
It was somewhere during endless talks with strangers from all over the world, which showed me that there are so many stories, so many lives and so many ways to live a happy life and to be “successful”.
It was somewhere during long hikes and rides through the stunning nature that our world has to offer, when I realized we really have to take care of it. The way we are treating the environment with our consuming habits is anything but not environmental friendly.
It was somewhere during exploring countless of temples, ruins and spiritual places that I figured out that in life there is so much more than chasing the big car, the big house and material consume.
It was somewhere in between all these discoveries and moments that I realized I don’t just feel captured, I am captured!
Fight with the comfort zone
That was the moment when the fight with the comfort zone and the well-trained believe system started. Even if I have acknowledged all these things, even if I have read a number of books about self-development and finding happiness, even if I know what I truly want, stepping out of the well-known, well-trained and long believed system is not an easy one. Even if it is just temporary.
- What is the alternative?
- What will come next?
- What if everything goes wrong and this is how it is supposed to be?
In the same time all the monkeys in the head are starting to scream:
- You have a good live!
- You are in a comfortable situation!
- You are save with a stable job and a more than good income!
Don’t throw all of this away for an unknown future!
With all this in my head I started asking myself:
- Is there a way to combine all these things?
- Is there a way so have a stable career and a sufficient income and to be free and able to life a self-determined life?
- How are all these digital normads and people telling you how easy it is to step out and live your life on your own, doing this?
Let me be honest. I have no idea up to now. My number one solution is, to just drop everything, start a worldtrip and see what life will do with me. Than all this monkeys and questions are popping up in my head and I start to chicken out.
How travelling changed me
All of this is challenging and not always easy. That’s how change is happening and how travelling changed me:
- turned me from a selfish and just partying person to a caring and empathetic person who cares about stuff
- changed me from an ignorant to a interested person, who is questioning things and the status quo
- turned me from a steak-lover to a vegetarian
- changed me from a consumer to someone who cares about the environment and tries to a minimalistic life
- LAST BUT NOT LEAST: it taught me to be alone with myself – that was by far the biggest, most important and live changing lesson in my life
Travelling is the greatest love of my life, but it is not an easy one. I love my relationship with the world, but it is a consuming one and one that leaves me desperate sometime.
Someone who is telling you that it is always easy to travel and to be bitten by the travel bug, being in love with the world, is lying. Same as the people who are telling you how easy it is so drop everything back home and to just start travelling into an unknown future are lying.
It is not easy, but it is life changing and for some of us it is necessary. For some it is enough to just dream about, others have to pack their bag and leave. I for myself haven’t found the way to go and I am somehow lost or in the middle of things, but the good thing about it is, it makes me moving!
Get lost, but don’t get hurt