This post comes to you courtesy of Claire Lovesti from www.traveltio.com. She’s on a path we can all recognize: searching for purpose and falling in love with the world in the meantime. It’s all very familiar to me, and I’m still falling in love with the world every day. Happy travels, Claire!
I took a step outside my comfort zone and it rewarded me with relationships beyond my imagination.
A lot of people think that love and travel don’t go well together; risk, time constraints, language barriers, all pop up into their heads and stop them from going too far. I know these kind of restraints, and understand the validity of being cautious. But when I left home for lands unknown, I threw caution to the wind in so many ways. Love may have been the last way, but eventually, like all the other barriers, I let go.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning.
I graduated high school in Perth a few years ago, destined to make my way outside of the normal path of uni-goers—the world was my way of continuing my education, and it didn’t require that I spend all of my time in a classroom.
I had spent my last summer in Perth managing social media for a couple of hotels on a Perth tourist website (nice ones that I suggest you check out if you’re in the area) and decided that being a member of the hospitality club wasn’t the worst thing I could pursue and it gave me the opportunity to travel. I ended up landing an internship in Budapest working in a hostel at the reception. It was my first real adventure away from my world alone.
Budapest is a majestic city, very different from my own, and steeped in incredible history. Even knowing those things, when I landed there, I barely went more than a block around the corner alone. I wondered what I was doing in this foreign city, I wondered whether I had made a big mistake not continuing school, I wondered if I should go home. And in the first two weeks, I hardly left the hostel, except to go to the grocery store for food and to the river on a short walk. I was terrified of being lost, horrified of being alone.
The thing no one tells you about travelling alone is that you’re going to want good relationships—that the independence you are seeking by marching away from home is easier found with friends than alone, even though it seems counterproductive. I learned this the hard way.
Through luck, I found my people.
Two weeks into my stay, a new girl from France showed up at reception; a six-week internship student from Nice. We didn’t get along right away (we had different ideas of how to get things done) but after spending time together, we became what was indescribably inseparable; we were with each other everywhere. Travel does that to you—it makes your relationship stronger, brings out secrets you’ve never told your childhood best friends.
Our relationship was formed through long discovery walks through City Park, enjoying ballet performances, eating our way through langos after langos, strudel after strudel, and sharing a hostel dorm bunk bed. With her, I learned to find confidence in my sense of direction, my sense of humor, and my aimless attempts to see the world. I finally got out of the hostel, and out of my own box.
She was the perfect antidote to my cautious personality, the one that had me very experienced backpacking in Southeast Asia with my best friends from home, but not out on my own in the world. Finding friends who bring out the best in you is not a thing that comes by everyday, and I couldn’t have imagined someone more suited to me than if I had asked for her myself. We were a pair, a laughing, girl pop duo making mischief from the hostel bar to our favorite club terrace, Corvin Club. It was exactly what I needed to show me that the world outside my own ideas wasn’t scary but one full of opportunity—and getting to share this with someone was the greatest gift of all.
At our favorite park, we ran into a pair of tour guides, one Romanian and one Czech, on a regular basis. One day, we introduced ourselves. The next day, we went on a double date through the old parts of the city. The following days, we spent them all together, just the four of us and this brand new world.
The thing you learn about romantic relationships when you travel is to have no expectations, and to not make them if you are sacrificing your friends, or an adventure. If you go in with the mindset that things be fluid, that they not disrupt the plans you already have, then you will not be disappointed by any of your experiences.
I found this out by falling pretty hard for my Czech boy, only to find myself at the end of my internship and lusting after a new experience in Africa more than staying for him. These things are hard for travellers, to willingly leave the relationships they’ve built in a place; it’s a learned skill to be able to let go. And winding down roads hand in hand with Tomas, kissing him in the rain on age old bridges, and meeting for coffee every morning before work, those are the things that stick with you. They are things you want to hold onto.
But harder even than that was saying goodbye to my French friend—the one who had opened me up to all of these new experiences. I had been ready to branch out, to get on a tram in a foreign city, not knowing where to go, but finding my way anyway, to take a chance on a one day trip to the Czech Republic, to adventure places where I didn’t speak the language. I just need the final push out of the door, and she was that answer. She was the hard shove that I need to break my own barriers.
If I only give people one piece of advice about travelling, it’s to remember that keeping your personal belongings close to you keeps them from being stolen, but keeping your heart and personality on lock down with them isn’t any way to experience the world. Being in a different place isn’t the answer to opening yourself up—that has to come within.
Everyday I tell people who are stagnant, in a rough patch, or just looking for something new, to pack their bags and go after a new place in the world. But not because the new place will change you, but because it has so many opportunities to allow yourself the opportunity to open up. After all, the world is really very all the same, and it’s people that make all of the difference. Go after them, put them in your travel diaries, and revisit those tales every now and again. It’s how you create a life worth living.
Author Bio: I’m Claire – a self-confessed travel nut. I’ve been travelling around the world since my mum farewelled me in a teary goodbye and I haven’t looked back since. You can read all about my adventures through 48 cities in 26 countries on 4 continents on my blog Traveltio.com.
Thank you, Claire, for sharing your story. I’ve loved reading your travel tales and look forward to many more! Don’t forget to check out Claire’s blog at www.traveltio.com.