I pass by the statue of the famous Danish author H.C. Andersen a couple of times a week when I go into the centre of Málaga. And he was so right! – “To travel is to live”. That’s why my very first backer trip, at the age of 23, changed the things I wanted in life and that’s why I live in Spain today.
I’ve stopped counting the number of times relatives have asked me: “When are you moving back to Denmark?” or “Aren’t you going to settle down soon?” or “What about children?”. I have settled down as much as I want but it’s of course not the way my grandmother, or even my parents, imagined it because it’s so different from their life and the possibilities they have/had.
It all comes down to, as mentioned in an earlier post, where you feel your home is. Nowadays, fewer people have a strong feeling of belonging to their homeland (the German word”heimat” is a good word to describe this feeling) or a physical land because so many of us have travelled and lived in different places.
I’m a product of my time and all the possibilities that many northern Europeans of my generation have. I love travelling and the more I do it the more I want to continue and see new places (or go back to old ones).
I remember my first backpacking trip outside Europe very well. I went to South East Asia and the colours, smells, and sounds struck me right away. I loved the beaches, temples and the food in Thailand, the impressive Angkor Wat and the bumpy bus rides in Cambodia, the Little India area and celebrating Chinese New Year’s in Singapore and walking around in busy Kuala Lumpur and learning about Islam in Malaysia. And all the friendly people I met on the way, all the customs and traditions I was introduced to, the music and dancing, the fun nights out meeting new people etc.
But what also contributed to fulfilling the trip were all the annoying and frustrating situations I ended up in. It wouldn’t have been the same without those moments. All the times when it was difficult to communicate with people because of a language barrier and I had to rely on body language, the annoying salesmen who wanted me to buy things I dind't need or wanted me to come with them to their “cousin´s” hostel, when I got lost and couldn’t find a map (this was, thank God, before the Smartphone era!) and had to ask for help but ended up being guided in the wrong direction, when I had to learn to bargain because I realised that I’d been paying too much and been taken advantage of as a tourist, or when people touched my blond hair without asking for permission or just handed me their baby and took a picture of me! :P
It’s all a part of the journey and you learn so much from it :) I love all the things you see when travelling but what I love the most is what it does to you. it really changes you and you grew a little bit as a person every time.
It has been countless trips since my first one and I can’t wait for my next one! I’m sure I’ll never stop loving that feeling :)