As a traveller I have questioned what it means to belong somewhere and whether travelling inhibits our ability to belong. Psychotraveller recently made a video (here) on the subject and was very negative about it, so I wanted to share my take on it. She titled it “I don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore” and spoke about how travelling has distanced her from having a home and she doesn’t feel she can make one anywhere because of language and culture barriers.
My old dreams
At just 13 years old, I dreamed of travelling. I would order brochures, buy books, search the internet, and plan out potential trips to the greatest detail (actually far more detail than I would ever plan a trip that I was actually going on now). My dream was to take a gap year and travel to Australia. I wanted to see everything and do everything. I was fascinated with Australia and even dreamed of one day relocating there.
Then my dreams changed. I didn’t want to ‘live’ anywhere. I just wanted to travel all the time, go everywhere and never stop. I had the biggest ambitions and was so confident that as soon as I got the chance, I would leave with no return in sight. Now, at almost 21 years old, and a few trips wiser, I have totally different dreams.
I have a home
As a child we moved quite a lot, not loads, but enough that I never felt I had a true ‘home’. I had no strong ties to any particular place because I was either too young to fully remember it or I hadn’t been there long enough. Coming to university completely changed my whole idea of ‘home’, and breaking all of the rules in my head, I found a home within a couple of months. Obviously, my 13 year old travel dreams changed and I decided to get myself a degree. I had always wanted to be an architect and I, and everyone who knew me, knew that if I took a gap year I would never come back. So I decided to do the degree first and travel later.
It was the best thing for me. Whilst the course is not what I expected and the past few years have been the toughest of my life, it has also showed me that I have a home. I have a home in the city I’ve fallen in love with, I have a home in the amazing friends I’ve made, and I have a home in my boyfriend who I met on my first day at university and has been my best friend ever since. I’ve realised that a home is not somewhere you’re born, or where your family live, it’s something you make for yourself.
I belong in Edinburgh, at home with my amazing friends and in my favourite city in the world.
I discovered my travel style
Long gone is my mind set that I want to book a flight out and leave with no return in sight. Plans change and being at university has shaped the way I travel and how I wish to continue travelling. Over the last 3 summers I’ve squeezed in some incredible experiences that have shaped me and taught me more than I could ever learn in university. From volunteering in Greece to staying in my first hostel alone. Flying to the states to discovering a love for working with children with special needs. Learning a language to hiking up to 2,500m. I’m so proud of what I have achieved between university years in what I used to view as an annoyingly restrictive amount of time.
I don’t feel that anymore. I’ve realised that 2-3 months is an ideal trip length for me and it’s how I continue to plan trips and travel. I like to travel slowly and really get to know countries or regions and am not about the whistle-stop-tour life. Now that I’ve found a home where I belong, I have no intention of giving it up.
After 3 years of university, where I’ve worked harder than I ever knew possible, I want to travel. Whilst I know I belong in Edinburgh with the people I love, I also belong out in the world travelling. I am happiest with my backpack in places I’ve never been before talking to people I don’t know. I cannot wait to have the freedom to travel whenever I want to. However, I plan to firmly keep my base in Edinburgh and alternate home with small trips that will allow me to slowly travel around the world.
A Question of Belonging
I feel that over the last few years I’ve discovered so much about myself (in the non classic-spiritual-backpacker kind of way). I’ve found my home and friends where I belong and I’ve also confirmed what I always knew about myself – that I belong out in the world travelling. Who says I have to choose? I’m determined to have both and will work hard to achieve it. I’m a firm believer in choosing happiness over everything else and now I’ve found the life that makes me happy, I will ensure it sticks.
This is a bit of a babble letter but I hope it’s proves interesting. Who knows?
Lots of love,
PS. What do you think about travelling and belonging?