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Whether or not travelling is a hobby is up for debate...here's what I think.

Is travelling a hobby?! 

Is travelling a hobby? It’s fun-filled, life-changing, inspiring and just downright amazing. And hobbies can definitely be these things. But does calling travel a hobby really do it justice?? Or is it something more than that? Here’s a really quick piece with my thoughts…

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘hobby’?

An activity to enjoy in your spare time? A fun-filled pastime? A go-to activity of choice? A distraction from dull moments of the day?

Me too.

So, technically, is travelling a hobby as well? After all, for many of us it is indeed a go-to activity of choice. It is absolutely a fun-filled activity- something to enjoy doing in our spare time, above almost all other things.

And yet ‘hobby’ makes me think of things like sport, reading, drawing…or bingo…or knitting.

Can we really put travel- something that is so fundamentally profound and life-changing- in the same category as knitting?

Isn’t it far more than that?

I’d say yes. It is indeed more than that.

But if it isn’t a hobby, what else is it?

If travelling is my hobby, then is it any different to reading, playing sport, or knitting?

“Who cares if travelling is my hobby?”

First off, there’s nothing wrong with considering travel to be a hobby.

I mean, I always maintain that travel, in every respect, is an individual thing and so we have the right to define it however we like.

I’m not here to tell you that seeing travel as a hobby is wrong.

Indeed, like I said, there’s a large part of me that would define it in this way too. At the same time though, I just don’t think the word does it justice.

Here’s why…

A travelling hobby is more like a travelling lifestyle.

Travelling hobby or travelling lifestyle?

For me, hobbies are generally activities that I fit around my other, primary pursuits. I make time for them, sure, but generally they’re the luxury that rewards the work I’ve put in elsewhere.

For instance, I might draw in the evenings, after a busy day, or play sport at the weekends to socialise and get some exercise, or take a lunch break to read my book.

I don’t knit.

But the hobby is always secondary- fitted in around other parts of my schedule. Simply, these hobbies are side-lined to my ‘free-time’.   

Travel, by comparison, is almost the opposite.

Travel, the way I see it, is the primary thing. I wish to mould my schedule around travel- not the other way around. Travel becomes the ultimate focus- the priority that I fit everything else around.

Travelling is a hobby, but it also isn't. It goes far beyond that for me.

In this way travelling is a fundamental component of my life (or at least I want it to be), as opposed to something I restrict to my spare time.

And, equally, I can continue with my other hobbies while I travel. I’ll read, exercise, write, draw…all while on the road. Is it really possible to practice a hobby within a hobby!?

And, at the end of the day, I get so much more from travel than I do most other things in my life.

I mean, who I am has literally changed and adapted in line with the experiences I’ve had while travelling. Travel is a powerful tool, a momentous life choice, a way to live life to its absolute fullest.

Dive headfirst into travel and, as clichéd as it sounds, it sort of becomes…life.

Or, less dramatically (if equally clichéd), travel becomes a lifestyle. It’s what I mean when I talk about the travel feeling. And it is this that gets at the crux of why I don’t see travel as a hobby.

“Simply, travel becomes more than just a thing to do: no longer just some thing, or activity.”

It becomes a way of interacting with the world: a way of being that impacts all aspects of life.

That all sounds a little grandiose, new-agey and woo-woo, I know. But I don’t know how else to put it! And there’s truth there, I promise!

So, to sum up, for me, at least, travel isn’t a hobby.

Maybe it starts off as one. Maybe at one point in time, as you begin to delve into the wonderful world of travel, it becomes a hobby. And maybe for some people it remains that way; like I said at the start, that’s 100% fine.

I just see it as so much more.

What do you think? Am I talking rubbish!? Do you see travel as a hobby or something more? Let me know in the comments!

And click below to join the Coddiwomp Community! You'll receive all sorts of exclusive travel inspiration and advice!

Photo credit: Unsplash

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The first time travelling alone is a daunting prospect, but ultimately a decision that will change your life.

Inspiration & Advice for Anyone Travelling Alone for the First Time

This piece is for anyone contemplating travelling alone for the first time. It can be a daunting prospect, venturing into the world, alone and unguided. It’s a big deal and a certain amount of trepidation and uncertainty at what to expect is only natural. To help, I wanted to put together some tips and inspiration that I hope will reassure any aspiring solo travellers out there.

Travel is no mean feat.

It may look and sound like fun and games, and, to be honest, it usually is, but in many ways it’s also a real challenge.

Travel is scary. It is lonely. It’s tiring. It’s full of uncertainty and it is disconcertingly prone to pushing the boundaries of what feels comfortable.

Indeed, a part of us knows this before we even go.

As aspiring travellers we look at the world. Then we look back at the comfort and security of home. Then back at the world. Then back to home. And once more back to the World.

And we think, “Hmmm. That looks scary- exciting, sure, but also scary”.

As excited as you may be at the prospect of living the dream and breaking the chains of a home life that’s come to feel unremittingly banal and claustrophobic, the thought of travel can still be a difficult one.

Especially if you’re going to travel solo.

I'd love you to join this community! Click below to keep up to speed on all my exclusive travel news, inspiration and advice :)

Indeed, travelling solo for the first time is a particularly difficult prospect. Looking ahead, you know that all the uncertainty and challenge to come will be confronted and navigated alone.

There is no one else to rely on. No shoulder to lean on, no hand to hold, no reassuring voice to tell you what to do or how to do it.

It’s just you.

And of course, this is exactly why solo travel is so powerful and life-altering: the increase in self-knowledge, esteem and confidence that comes from navigating and overcoming adversity, alone, while travelling, is incredible.

You come away a significantly different person to the one who first gets on the plane.    

But you don’t know that before you go. No, prior to departure everything feels a little up in the air.

So I was reflecting on this and remembering the mixture of feelings I experienced before travelling. The memory prompted me to put together a post with all the inspiration, advice and reassurance that I would have found helpful to read/hear at the time.

If you’re contemplating travelling alone for the first time, I hope it’ll be useful in overcoming any concerns, settling any nerves, setting expectations and generally inspiring you to go do it!

Inspiration for Travelling Solo

Let’s begin by going through some of the reasons solo travel is so awesome.

Advantages of Travelling Alone

There are many great things about being on the road by yourself. Here are a few:

Total freedom and control

When you’re travelling by yourself you can literally do anything you want.

There is no-one else to take into consideration, and it’s amazing. Go where you want, stay where you want, eat when you want, move whenever you want...just generally experience a country on your terms.

Just don’t let this be to the detriment of your trip.

For instance, the people you’ve just met in your hostel invite you out with them to a nearby bar. You’re feeling sad and lonely and just want to stay indoors and think about home. That’s totally fine- this is, of course, your trip!

However, forcing yourself to do the thing you don’t want to do might actually be the best thing to do...if that makes sense. Accept the invite, make friends, create a memory and cheer yourself up in the process.

Simplified Decisions

Sometimes having someone to make a decision for you is very helpful. Other times, having someone else around when a decision needs making just complicates things- especially if you disagree.

Being alone when you travel means this isn’t an issue.

As I said above, you get to do when you want, when you want, with no-one else getting in the way. This speeds up the decision making process and liberates you from spending your time away doing things you wouldn’t otherwise be doing.

Travelling solo is like an incredible tool for self-development.

Personal development

Travel is an amazing tool for self-development.

And, like I mentioned in the intro, doing it solo only serves to magnify the effect.

Travelling alone confronts you with all the personal neuroses and issues that you can tend to overlook at home. With no one to help you out in a tricky spot, you’re reliant on your own decision making and problem solving ability.

Navigating and overcoming issues by yourself on the road increases your self-confidence and self-esteem like nothing else: you develop a self belief that carries through into all areas of life.

Space

This can be a bit of a mixed blessing, as too much of your own space can quickly lead to feeling lonely and isolated. However, having the space and time to be alone while travelling can also be amazingly helpful.

Depending on where you are, it’s actually rare to have no-body at all around when you’re travelling- even if you set off solo.

In hostels, hikes, city tours and the like, there are almost always new people to meet and spend time with. But, with no obligations to anyone other than yourself, if things are getting a bit much (which they easily can) you have every option to step away and be alone.

It’s far harder to make your excuses when you’re travelling with other people.

Quotes to inspire Solo Travel

I love a good travel quote! Here are a few of my favourites that help inspire me to travel:

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.”
— Hannah Arendt
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure”
— Freya Stark, Passionate Nomad
“A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is a deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that it was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle and get out”
— Isabelle Eberhardt
“The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready”
— Henry David Thoreau
“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
— Roman Payne, The Wanderess
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”
— Mark Twain Tips for Travelling for the First Time

Moving on from inspiration to advice then. What tips would I give myself if I were to have a conversation with my younger self?

First, check out this hilarious video from Hey Nadine with her advice about solo travel.

what you NEED TO KNOW about SOLO TRAVEL - YouTube
Tips:Say ‘yes’ a lot

By this I mean seizing opportunity when it arises.

Remember, you’re going to be out of your comfort zone a lot when travelling, and when an opportunity seems particularly beyond what you’re happy with (eg sky diving, eating insects, skinny dipping...) it is all too easy to turn things down.

Force yourself into the habit of saying ‘yes’ as a routine response.

This way, you’ll find yourself in memorable, amazing situations that you’ll look back on thinking, ‘wow, I can’t believe I did that’.

Be brave

Travelling and solo travelling require bravery anyway, so you’ve already ticked this box by deciding to do it.

But keep it up when you’re on the road. Push yourself whenever you can- when meeting people, when exploring a new place, when deciding an activity; be courageous and tenacious.

Be sensible and safe

A lot gets said about safety while travelling. It’s important, of course, but don’t let it get you paranoid about the dangers involved in travel.

Take the same precautions you would in any new place, look after your valuables, get travel insurance, don’t be overly conspicuous and you should be totally fine.

Be comfortable being alone

This one takes some getting used to and I’m still pretty rubbish at it. But travelling solo understandably requires a level of comfort being alone in your own space.

It’ll feel funny to begin, going out for meals by yourself, taking selfies and cooking for one. However, it gets easier. Know that far fewer people are probably looking at you than you might think.

See it as a learning opportunity: how does it feel to be alone at the bar/restaurant/cafe/museum etc? What’s going on inside? How is the emotion manifesting itself physically?

By acknowledging these things you’ll come to understand more about who you are.

Getting comfortable in your own company is important for enjoying solo travel.

Pack light

This one’s a pretty basic part of travel but super important! By yourself there’s no sharing of kit between backpacks, so it’s literally all on your shoulders.

Take the absolute bare minimum of stuff. You’ll be thankful for it later and anything you happen to miss can almost always be acquired on the road.

Here are some more tips on how and what to pack.

Be the first to say hello

It can get lonely travelling solo on the road.

So, if you’re looking for company, be the first to say hello to people you meet. At hostels, out and about, on a night out- wherever you are, get comfortable being the first to introduce yourself to those around you.

You’ll have the same conversation a million times, but that’s fine- it’s a necessary part of meeting someone on the road and you might find a bunch of new friends to share the adventure with.

The beauty of being alone is that if you don’t get on, then you can simply carry on your way.

Travel slowly

In a desperate attempt to see everything and miss out on nothing, it’s easy to rush around when you’re travelling.

This approach is tiring and prevents you really experiencing the place you’re in. Instead, slow down, take your time, move slowly and immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing.

Take time out

Travel can be intense. Constantly on the move, one place to another, meeting new person after new person; it’s important to take some time every now and again just to chill.

Take a mini holiday from travelling.

Set up shop in a hostel somewhere, wash your clothes, eat good food, read, relax, rejuvenate. Don’t feel any pressure to keep on moving. If you’re tired, take a break.

Take the path less trodden

There’s value in getting off the main tourist track while travelling. It’s totally up to how you want to spend your time, but heading to lesser known places in lesser known towns down lesser known paths can be remarkably rewarding.

Nothing is insurmountable

There will be difficult times when you travel. It’s almost inevitable. Accept this from the outset.

But know that whatever it is, you can and will get through it. It might not be pretty, but you will come through the other side and it will have been a valuable part of the trip.

Through adversity comes growth.

Check out my ABROAD principles for travel, a little acronym that describes my method for travelling well.

Solo Travel Resources from the Web

Here are a few blog posts that do a great job of detailing the ins and outs of solo travel. For a full list, check out my resources page.

  • This article from Smartertravel.com provides a list of 15 mistakes to avoid that will help you stay safe and make the most of your trip.

https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/15-mistakes-avoid-traveling-solo/

  • This is a lovely and eclectic mix of suggested destinations from Roughguides.com that will take you all around the world.

https://www.roughguides.com/gallery/the-best-places-to-travel-alone/

  • If you’re concerned about going it alone for whatever reason, read this piece from the Planet D and you’ll go a long way to moving closer to your trip.

https://theplanetd.com/8-myths-of-solo-travel-and-what-really-happened-to-me/

  • Here’s a great little list from medium.com detailing the good and the bad parts of solo travel.

https://medium.com/digital-nomad-stories/10-best-and-worst-things-about-traveling-alone-a8f59f3f6413

  • 16 top benefits of solo travel from Insightguides.com.

https://www.insightguides.com/inspire-me/blog/benefits-of-solo-travel

So there you have it, a brief guide with inspiration and advice for a first time solo traveller. Did it help? Let me know if there were particular points that stood out, or even if there are particular concerns you have that I didn’t address!

I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.

Join the Coddiwomp community for more exclusive travel inspiration and advice! Simply click below :)
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Lets take a look at why people choose to travel.

The Reasons People Travel and Why You Should Too

Why do people decide to travel? What is it that drives our wanderlust and attracts us to the idea of stepping out into the wider World, to have an adventure? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people travel, and why you should definitely do it too.

 

Why do people travel?

I think this a big question. And not an easy one to answer.

Indeed, I’ve often thought that, in some ways, it makes far more sense not to- travel, I mean.

After all, home is comfortable, predictable…safe; the World outside is generally unknown and altogether more dangerous, unpredictable and uncertain.

If then, as humans, we have evolved to prioritise our survival over almost everything else, why does travel remain so appealing?

I mean, our brains are specifically oriented around protecting us from threat.

Yet there seems to be something about travel that supersedes this intrinsic focus on survival: travel is a daunting prospect, but we still do it.

There’s even an added irony that the safety and security of home is one huge reason why I find travel so appealing!

Simply, home isn’t big enough.

In fact, it’s stifling and restrictive and sometimes almost claustrophobic. The possibility of pushing beyond it has always been overwhelmingly attractive.

But this can’t be everything.

What other reasons do we have for taking the (arguably counterintuitive) decision to travel?

I didn’t want to just pull reasons from thin air.

So, for the purposes of this post I’ve drawn heavily from my experts’ piece about first time travel, where expert travel bloggers from around the World explained what it was that made them go travelling for the first time.

I hope this gives the following reasons a little more substance and authenticity.

But first, check out this awesome video about why you should travel, which will hopefully get you inspired from the outset!

Why You Should Travel | TruTravels - YouTube

(If you’re at all interested, you can also read about why I first went travelling.)

Reasons People Travel1)      To test themselves

Like I mentioned, travel goes against a lot of what we, as humans, are built to want. Stepping into the World is often scary; the road ahead paved with difficulty and hardship, as well as all the positives.

For some people, this is reason enough to want to go. Simply, they see the challenges that lie ahead and lean into it, determined to overcome them.

I imagine the people who do extreme tests of physical endurance, such as ultra-marathons.

You might ask: “why on earth would anyone do that?” But it’s exactly the challenge, the hardship, the pursuit of excellence and the desire to surpass the limits we set for ourselves, which makes it appealing. 

2)      To rebel from the norm and take the path less travelled

This is a big one for me. I look at the traditional trajectory through life that many of us take and think,

“Jeeze, that looks miserable.”

From school, to uni, to career, to retirement etc…It all just feels too normal, too ordinary…and I want my life to be amazing and full (see ‘Live fully’, below). I don’t feel ready to accept this path and sideline true living until I’m in my 60s.

Travel is a fantastic way to break away from this typical route.

One of the reasons people travel is to avoid a typical route through life and to make the absolute most of your time.

3)      To scratch an itch

Some people simply talk about an irrepressible urge to get out and travel; the travel bug just seems to be inherently there, often from a very early age.

Equally, some people have particular experiences they want to have in life: akin to a bucket list, where travel is the only way to make them happen.

Think riding a camel along a desert, scuba diving in Sri Lanka, or placing a prayer note in the Western Wall, Jerusalem.

4)      To follow in family footsteps

Some people come from a long line of travellers in their family.

Having been surrounded by travellers and raised in a family there travel was part of normal life, it was only natural to want to go out and have an adventure of their own one day.

5)      To explore the World

This one seems like a fundamental reason why people travel. The World is big and there’s a lot to see out there.

For some, the allure of experiencing and exploring different countries and cultures; witnessing novel customs and social practices and meeting all manner of different people from all around the planet, is the biggest motivation to have an adventure.

Go travelling, live fully!

6)      To live fully

This is the ultimate reason for why I travel, which was echoed in the expert’s answers.

For me it comes down to this: life is short and you never know when it is going to end. Keeping this in mind, the thought of living anything other than a full life, packed to the seams with experience and joy, is not worth thinking about.

To paraphrase a travel quote I came across a while ago:

“It is not the years in the life, but the life in the years that counts.”

Travel is an ultimate way to pack life into your years.

7)      To have an adventure

Call it being a romantic or a fantasist, but there’s often an allure to the basic idea of exploration, discovery and adventure!

I have always loved the stories of intrepid pursuits and amazing endeavours of people throughout history, who have travelled far and wide in search adventure.

There’s something special about it.

8)      To escape from something

Travel can be an easy way to run away from things that are difficult to deal with at home.

I’m also guilty of this: my desire to travel is often at its highest when I feel particularly challenged by a situation at home; if I’m having a melancholy moment, my immediate instinct is to whisk myself away to some lost corner of the globe.

I caution against using travel as an escape though. It might be a temporary distraction, but constantly running from adversity is to our detriment in the long run. Sooner or later that from which we’re trying to escape will catch up with us.

I think (though there are surely exceptions) that it is far better to confront whatever it is in the moment, instead of running. This way, the issue resolved far more readily and travel is kept as a purely positive pursuit.

Go travelling to develop yourself as a person. This is an amazing reason to travel.

9)      To develop as a person

Travel is an amazing tool for self-development.

The adversity that you face on the road, coupled with the sheer depth and variety of experience, all come together to grow your personality, strengthen resilience and generally bolster and build who you are.

10)   To make themselves more employable

Among all the many benefits of travel, its impact on your employability can be another key reason that some people take to the road.

Contrary to the beliefs of many, travel is said to enhance your chance of employment rather than limiting it. Go travelling, and your chances of employment should not be negatively impacted.

Indeed, your maturity, experience in new cultures and dazzling tales of foreign exploits will only help your bid to secure your next job.

For more on how travel enhances your employability, read this great piece from Save The Student.

11)   To gain life skills

Similarly to how travel helps you develop as a person, the skills you can develop overseas are often another key reason people choose to travel.

Think about volunteering with disadvantaged communities overseas, doing an internship/placement that interests you with an organisation abroad, spending time on a farm while working for free accommodation…the list goes on.

The number of life skills you can develop through travelling beggars belief.

Read more about the life skills you develop while travelling from A Wandering Broad Abroad.

So, there you have it: 11 reasons why people travel. And that is by no means an exhaustive list!

In fact, though hopefully I’ve covered many of them, I’m sure there are tonnes of other reasons I could add to the pile!

What makes you want to travel? Do any of the reasons above strike a particular chord? Or are there any more you can think of? Let me know in the comments below.

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Xuanzang is a perfect place to start in this traveller profile series [Image: public domain]

Traveller Profile: Xuanzang Travel Inspiration

In this traveller profile series I take a look back through history at some of the World’s greatest travellers. What travel lessons can be learned from the adventures and exploits of these remarkable, intrepid individuals? By looking backwards in this way, I hope to inspire anyone looking forward to their own future travels.

The first traveller of my Traveller Profile series is Xuanzang, a remarkable 7th Century Chinese Buddhist scholar.

Xuanzang’s exploits took him on land from China to India and back again over a 16 year period, forging in the process his legacy as a famed Buddhist leader, translator and traveller.

His story and travels are unique and outrageous in their scope and impact on the World.

I’ll begin with a little background info, before detailing his travels and finally considering the travel lessons we can take from his incredible story.

Xuanzang as depicted in 'Journey to the West'

Xuanzang’s Traveller ProfileName:

Xuanzang

Lifespan:

Circa 602 – 664 CE

Context:

Born in China in modern day Henan province, Xuanzang impressed from an early age with his intellect and interest in Chinese scripture. He became a Buddhist monk at 13 years old.

Over time, Xuanzang became frustrated by Buddhist texts of the time, which were often incomplete and/or contained discrepancies that led to misinterpretation of and disagreement about the teachings of Buddha.

Believing that one complete version of a text relevant to his Buddhist practice (Discourse on the Stages of Yogic Practice) would solve these issues he devised a plan to travel to India:

“To learn the true teachings of Buddhism, collect Buddhist manuscripts to carry back to China and pay homage to the sacred places associated with Buddha”. (Travels of Xuanzang, Google Arts and Culture)  

Travels:

Xuanzang’s travels were in-depth and far reaching.

Beginning in 629 CE, Xuanzang disobeyed the orders of the Emperor, who’d forbade foreign travel due to an ongoing war, and began his long and influential journey to India. 

Facing the constant danger of bandits, hardships related to the landscapes he traversed as well as the physical challenges of his endeavour, Xuanzang travelled thousands of miles over land along the Silk Road and through the Indian subcontinent.

His trip took him Westwards across Northern China, into modern day Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and eventually India, where he travelled all over the country, from West to East, visiting as many places of Buddhist significance as possible.

Xuanzang's route through India was nothing short of extraordinary in its depth. [Image: public domain]

Over time Xuanzang met Kings and noblemen who he impressed with his knowledge of scripture; he dazzled local audiences with his elocution and wisdom.

Ultimately, Xuanzang established himself as a go-to authority on Buddhist matters.   

Along the way he chronicled his adventure, detailing everything from the places he visited, the things he saw, the conversations he overheard, the distances between locations, as well as details about their landscapes, rulers and customs.

He turned his notes into a book entitled ‘Records of the Western Regions of the Great T’ang Dynasty’.

His return journey was just as epic, ending finally in 645 CE where it all started: China. Upon his return, he dedicated the remainder of his life to the translation of the hundreds of scriptures he’d brought home and died a national hero.

Xuanzang’s travels and detailed account have had a huge impact on multiple fields over time.

For instance, his trip inspired a 16th Century Chinese novel called ‘Journey to the West’ and in more recent times historians and archaeologists have utilised his work to learn more about this era and, thanks to the accuracy of his descriptions, even uncover ancient 7th Century cities.  

For anyone interested, here’s an awesome little video explaining the storyline of ‘Journey to the West’ in comparison to the real life story of Xuanzang:

The Real Story of Journey to the West | WooKong - YouTube
Key Travel lessons from XuanzangTalk to and learn from the locals

Xuanzang would never have attained such influence had he not actively sought out and made the effort to befriend and learn from the people he met along the way.

Seeing a country takes time

It’s impossible to really see and experience a country without spending a significant amount of time there. Xuanzang travelled over 16 years, predominantly off the beaten track, in order to accrue his knowledge and understanding of Buddhism.

Slow travel is good travel

It’s all too easy to rush through a country. However, as Xuanzang’s example demonstrates, there is real value in doing things slowly. Travelling for 16 years, he clearly wasn’t in a rush.

Follow your dreams

Xuanzang’s motivation to travel was apparently helped by a dream that convinced him to journey to India. If travel is one of your dreams, then you owe it to yourself to go.

Travel even if you're told you shouldn't

It’s easy to feel pressure from others not to travel, in favour of a safer and more typical route through life (here's what I have to say about 'shoulds' and a typical path through life).

Sometimes there is value in sticking to your guns, ignoring what you ‘should’ do in favour of pursuing your goal to travel. In Xuanzang’s case, he literally defied a law set by his Emperor in order to travel and ended up a national hero!

Travel with Purpose

Travelling with a purpose is a sure-fire way to maintain your passion for it. Xuanzang’s travels were entirely fuelled by his desire to enhance his knowledge of Buddhism and put together a complete document that lacked the flaws of those already in existence.

Find a purpose and your travels will be imbued with a far greater meaning, which will help sustain your love for the road.

Record your exploits

As we’ve seen, Xuanzang recorded his travels and wrote a book of huge subsequent significance.

Keeping a journal of your travels is a fantastic way to keep hold of the memories you’re creating. Write about your experience and it’s far harder to lose to time all those little details that carry such value.

To conclude, Xuanzang was a life long traveller whose passion and ultimate purpose helped facilitate a momentous journey spread over 16 years, the legacy of which impacts the world to this day.

For any aspiring travellers, I hope his traveller profile will serve as inspiration for your own upcoming journeys!

Sources & further reading if you're interested:

Article on Xuanzang’s travels and significance in relation to Indo-Chinese history

http://madrascourier.com/biography/xuanzangs-journey-to-the-west/

Great summary of Xuanzang’s travels and purpose

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/nQJS3GyICUOmKg

Useful summary of Xuanzang’s route and further general information

http://www.drben.net/ChinaReport/Sources/China_Maps/China_Empire_History/Tang_Dynasty/Map-Asia-Xuanzhang_Travel_Route-629-645AD-1A.html

And another summary of Xuanzang’s life, travels and significance

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Xuanzang

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It is easy for fear to get in the way our travel plans, sometimes without us even realising.

The Fear of Travelling Alone as An Obstacle to Travel

The fear of travelling alone can stop us going.

It is an entirely natural reaction to a daunting prospect. However, how do we stop it interfering with our plans for future travel? How can we overcome the fear that's there in order to travel anyway? 

Travel is scary for many of the same reasons that it is exciting: complete freedom, independence, new experiences and cultures, stepping outside of your comfort zone into uncertainty, leaving behind loved ones, being unable to communicate with others etc etc.

All of these prospects breach a deep seated, inherent, evolutionary instinct to stay within the relative safety of what is known and predictable.

In an effort to promote our well being, and essentially just to stay alive, our brain is constantly on the alert, scanning our environment for danger.

Consequently, alarm bells sound at the thought of walking away from what is known and safe, into the relative uncertainties of travel.

In this way, it is absolutely natural to feel some fear at the prospect of heading out on an adventure- especially if it is for the first time.

Is it your fear, or someone else's, that's getting in the way?

Essentially, it is not necessarily your fear that is getting in the way of you and your trip.

Rather, it is a human fear shared by everyone- you are not alone in how you feel.

For me, something about recognising the fact that my brain is simply doing what it is meant to and that my fear at travel is really only a natural, biological reaction to a potential threat, makes it easier to overcome the psychological discomfort that the thought can sometimes evoke.

It allows me to rationalise and think,

“Okay, wait a minute. My brain is telling me there’s potential threat here, so it is natural I’d want to avoid it. However, just because my brain says so doesn’t mean there’s any inherent thing of which to be afraid”

Remember, all this happens in your head and thoughts are not facts; thinking something does not make it so.

At a natural, biological level fear is going to be there within you because at a basic level you’re an animal that wants to stay alive.

Once we acknowledge this we have a foundation from which to rationalise.

But what can we actually do to prevent our fears from stopping us doing what we want to, such as travelling?

I think a good place to start from is always awareness.

Stop and ask yourself, 

“What is it that scares me about going travelling?”

Perhaps it is saying goodbye to friends and family, or stepping into the unknown.

Maybe it is fear of being alone.

Or fear of feeling lonely and isolated.

Whatever it is, as tough as it might be, acknowledge and pay attention to it, then stop and don’t do anything else.

It can be hard to acknowledge our fears and so there’s power in simply recognising what’s happening and gently accepting it. All too often we can mentally punish ourselves for feeling the way we do.

Instead, try simply allowing it to be- knowledge and acceptance provide solid foundations from which to move forwards.

Sometimes we need to challenge the fears that get in the way.

Challenge the fears you recognise

As humans we’re also adept at imagining negative repercussions of a confrontation with the object of our fear.

Consequently, we try to wrap ourselves in cotton wool to avoid it happening.

However, we can't sacrifice the present purely to protect ourselves from some imagined negative future event. With your travels, you might be tempted to put off our plans in the interest of safeguarding against discomfort.

Where it feels comfortable to do so, I’d encourage anyone to challenge their fears by embracing opportunities in the present moment.

I remember swimming in the sea in the pouring rain when I first got to New Zealand, having just been told by a friend that it was perfect weather for sharks.

I considered not going in and it took an effort to force myself to swim the 30 metres or so to a pontoon where I stood in the pouring rain, surrounded by ocean and mountains, laughing in awe at the experience.

“The fear at being eaten even added something to it! The alternative was not to do something awesome, not to make a memory- not to challenge my fear.”

For me, this is what travel is all about: challenging yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do and growing as a result.

A sure fire way to really develop while you're away is to be willing to confront your fears as often as possible.

Of course, to get to this stage though you have to take the initial plunge into the unknown by jumping into your first trip.

Fear is a natural part of human experience and there are aspects of travel that trigger deep, evolutionary mechanisms in our brain designed to keep us safe. For anyone fearful of future travel, I hope this is a helpful realisation.

For fear that goes further than this, at a more individual level, try and be aware of what it is exactly that you’re afraid of and treat yourself with compassion when you realise what it is.

From a state of awareness, in the interest of seizing opportunity and living in the present, where possible take action to challenge the natural tendency to avoid that which we’re scared of.

By considering how short life really is and facing up to the fact no one knows what’s around the corner, we might get that final push we need to face up to our fears.

In this way, I hope your motivation to travel will become a reality. You won’t regret it.

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