If my Facebook feed could speak (give it a few years and we'll be at that stage), it would say 'baby, baby, marriage, engagement, baby, travel, baby.' My friends are growing up, and settling down, and I'm happy with that. My friends are also out there travelling the world, inhaling new scents, remembering new places and faces, and growing through experience day upon day.
Now, it may be that my head is filled with what feels like enough germs (ew gross) to sink a ship (5 times if that were possible) or that someone's replaced what brain cells I had prior to this bout of flu with cotton wool, but something led me to look up travel inspiration...and book my next trip in a matter of minutes.
While I may not be getting engaged or having a baby (not to my knowledge at least..) right now, one thing that is thriving as much as ever is my burning, yearning for exploration and travel. It's almost as though a choir of angels were singing as I read 'Round Trip, Copenhagen £20'....not least for the 'Oh I love a good bargain' (unless you've bought an overpriced dress full price to then see it reduced a matter of weeks later...god that smarts) in me, but more of a 'Okay, yes, why not...I could spend my well earned weekend at home in Essex or I could get up, go, take my notebook and pens with me, and go and see the world.' I guess it's easy to see why I would always opt for the latter.
Travel makes me happy. It's true. It breathes life into my soul, gives me a sense of excitement and opportunity to tread new steps, smile at new faces (and get asked 12425 times for directions in the process) and photograph new surroundings. For me, travel equates to happiness. And that makes me happy in turn. But why is that?
Going abroad comes with its difficulties and its stresses; language barriers, more often as a language-inept Brit with a grasp of other language that stops at "Coffee please", 'Where is the toilet?' and "How much is the wine?" But also, being in control of your own itinerary. Do you travel with others? How long do you go for? And where do you stay?
And yet, these very things contribute to the brilliant nature of globetrotting, because actually it teaches you, or me at least, to not always be in control, and to accept and embrace that.
Not knowing the language of your destination is a forgivable offence - if anything, it's an opportunity to widen your knowledge, after all knowing how to say "Hello how are you?" in Danish may seem inadequate, but it's an additional aspect of your life you didn't have before, so where's the harm in that.
Not knowing where you're wandering is great. Walking with purpose serves me well when I'm commuting on the Central Line in London to work every morning with my headphones in and heavy drum and bass in my ears (it makes you feel like a badass, I promise) but being abroad in a new place and not being entirely sure of my surroundings or my destination is weirdly liberating. And frees up and location induced panic, teaching you to just go with the flow, and enjoy the journey.
Meeting new people is both refreshing and eye-opening in equal measure. Airbnb is great for this - where else could you get local advice from someone, well, local, over a beer whilst paying a marginal price to stay in their home. You really can find a home away from home.
Travel makes me happy because it gives me courage, and helps my confidence to grow. I've never been a blushing wallflower, I admit, though I've rarely felt completely confident either. Going abroad, coping, and more than coping helps develop your horizons, in addition to contributing to a stronger 'I CAN do this' mentality - for me, travel enables personal growth and space. Be it for a couple of weeks, or 48 hours...it's how you use that time that counts.
Having time alone is often portrayed or interpreted as lonely or being antisocial. But it is vital, and I can't think of anything better than sitting in a restaurant, with a book, by the Duomo in Milan, or a riverbank in the country - just so long as you're giving yourself some time...to do whatever you want. It's not selfish or self-indulgent, it's just allowing yourself some time for, well, yourself.
Travelling makes me happy because it blesses me with some of the best and funniest memories I have in my life so far. Singing Grease Medley on a rooftop in Palermo (those poor locals), paragliding off a cliff in Turkey, falling over inside a pyramid in Egypt, and falling in a lake when visiting relatives in Germany all make for great stories, but even better memories. And you don't even have to travel thousands of miles to do so.
By the end of this year I will have visited Sweden, Mallorca, Paris, Germany, Ibiza, and Denmark, and whilst I don't earn megabucks, what makes me happy is dedicating some time to going away and seeing new places, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and growing in confidence little by little (piano piano as my Italian amici would say). For me, it's not about the money - it's about the feelings, the opportunity, and the excitement.
Travel makes me happy because it makes me feel alive...and I'd rather push my boundaries and live, than to stay content and merely exist.
If you missed my piece on why my love of travel would spark some people telling you not to date me, you can read it here