One Great Reason to Travel: People

reason to travel
A selfie – white water rafting through the Bolivian jungle with some random folk

“How do you do it? How do you just go?”

A friend asked me this after I returned from nearly 10 years of world travel. It was then I realised that travel was not an easy decision for everybody to make. Leaving friends, family and a good job with no fixed date of return can be more than a little daunting. Why would you want to do that? Of course there are many reasons, but I want to talk about one that struck me like a hammer on the head when I decided to take the big leap.

People.

Growing up in the ‘shire’ (colloquial for the Sutherland Shire, nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings), just outside of Sydney, I was a fairly well-liked person and I was relatively happy. But I felt there was always something missing. I felt a little odd, like I didn’t quite fit in. It wasn’t until I decided to jump in my van with two friends and a dog and drive across Australia that I discovered there were many ‘odd’ people, just like me. The world was a wonderful party – far beyond the boundaries of the ‘shire’ – that I was only just discovering.

Of course nothing was the same after I made that first leap. Life really began for me and I’ve since met so many people. Here’s just a few of the wonderful weirdos I’ve met on my travels, all who I’m still in touch with, bar the family below.

Ecuadorian family
Me with my wonderful Ecuadorian family – Henry, next to me and Carmen, far right – just outside of Quito, Ecuador

I met an Ecuadorian family when I was left penniless after my ATM card stopped working. The father, a taxi driver, took me into his home just outside of Quito, where I was looked after for two weeks. His family literally saved my life. You can read the story here. Amazing time. Amazing people.

reason to travel
Another selfie, with Paula – East London

Paula and I met on a tour of the salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, and we’ve been friends ever since.

reason to travel
Me, Raquel and Patrick – Barcelona

I met Patrick in Sydney and visited him in Barcelona (his home) for a few months. When my partner and her friend later visited Barcelona, I called him up and he looked after them for a week. A top fella and I’ll be visiting him when I hit Spain next year.

reason to travel
Carole and I – Paris

My good friend Carole and I met in London way back in 1999. I visited her in her home country, Paris, again in 2007 and we’re still in touch. I plan to pay her a visit next time I’m in Europe, hopefully next year.

reason to travel
Left to right: Me, Claudia, Udi and Tana – Switzerland

I travelled with Tana (far right) in Ecuador. I then went to Switzerland (read the story here) to visit her, met her friends pictured here and bumped into Claudia again in far northern Laos several years later! Tanya and I are still friends and I’m soon to visit her with my little family.

reason to travel
Left to right: Alejandra, her friend, me and my buddy Adrian – Alice Springs

Alejandra and I met in Alice Springs and I just missed catching up with her in her home country, Mexico. We are still in touch and plan to meet up again, one day….

reason to travel
Left to right: Liz, me and Drew – the rooftop of La Casa De Los Amigos, Mexico City

I met Drew (right) while I was living and studying in Mexico City. We’re still in touch and he’s a regular reader of Planet Andy T.

Madidi National Park
Left to right: Me, Katy, Hairo (our guide) and Waldo (our cook) – Madidi National Park, Bolivia

I went on a mission through Madidi National Park in Bolivia for a week with an American girl named Katy. It was a time I’ll never forget and you can read the full story here. I met up with Katy again three years later in Thailand and we’re still in touch.

reason to travel
Left to right: Me, some random guy and Anke – Quito, Ecuador

Anke (right) and I travelled together in Ecuador way back in 1999. We’ve recently reconnected on Facebook and have tentative plans to meet up in Barcelona next year.

Random meetings

reason to travel
Me and BJ – who allegedly micro-engraved the Ten Commandments on a grain of rice – Pushkar, India

I met this guy, BJ, in India, only for a day. We’re not in touch but I’ll mention him as an example of the many interesting characters you’re likely to meet on your travels. His alleged claim to fame is micro-engraving the Ten Commandments on a grain of rice.

So, if you’re stuck in your circle of friends, feeling a bit lonely or ‘weird’, be brave, take that big leap and travel with an open heart. Things will change.

The party is about to begin…

2 thoughts on “One Great Reason to Travel: People”

  1. Howdy Andy,

    This is great advice for me. I am a little weird, I am an ugly American who has always wanted to travel. However I have no friends and only a bit of cash. But you have inspired me….

    Thanks
    Hank Smothers

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