Last night I caught up with a few of my college classmates that I haven’t seen for a few years (since college). It was a lot of fun. and several of them had pretty awesome travel stories.
One of them, in the span of four years, spent time teaching English in Cancun, worked with refugees on the border between Thailand and Burma, and then spent some time in Colombia before coming back to the US. She is now working at a non-profit in DC.
Another classmate spent 7 months in New Zealand with her new husband hiking and WWOOFing and working as a hotel maid before coming back to the states and getting a job as a nanny/private educator.
These stories were pretty awesome to listen to. It made me want to pack up my bags and take off somewhere, anywhere. I got the sense that they were struck with wanderlust and were itching to travel again as well.
The thing is, it’s not clear whether or not travel fundamentally improved other aspects of their life. The first friend found her current boyfriend while traveling (and they’re pretty serious). That’s pretty significant. And she mentioned that her views on the world changed quite a bit, which I’d expect.
The other friend who works as a nanny seemed like she was still working things out. She doesn’t want to be a nanny forever, and she worries about her career and how she feels like her friends are making much more progress than her.
With both cases though, it’s hard to say what role their travels will play in shaping the rest of their lives, and whether it will be for better or worse, and whether the impact will be expected or unexpected.
For example, I studied abroad in France and met my current girlfriend. We’ve been dating for five years. That was something I did not expect from my travels. It was random, and it was certainly life changing. I’ve made different life choices because of her.
When I taught English in Egypt, I expected that I’d want to travel indefinitely and set up one of those mythical passive-income lifestyle businesses (still do). Turns out that living in a developing country can be sucky at times and while I still want to travel, my expectations for it have definitely changed. Something I expected to happen did not actually happen.
I think it’s difficult to predict how travel will affect you. If you do try to predict something, you’ll probably be wrong.
Has travel impacted you in unexpected ways? Has it set you back or moved you forward?