Understanding traveling

It was almost a year ago that we left the nest to fly away. Although I had always said that I wanted to dedicate my life to travel, life and courage gave me a kick only a year ago.

Recently I have met people and shared thoughts that got me thinking: this is what people need to know if they want to understand traveling. If you are still wondering why would someone let everything go just to wander around the world. Because when you think about it that way there are more reasons to stay than to go.



This post today is not about all travelers. It’s about me.

I, me, my.

My experience as a backpacker, my feelings and my thoughts. The ones that keep me living and going, the ones that I know will hold me together. Because this is what it is. Traveling. It’s personal, inexplicable, unpredictable. Traveling can be broken into a thousand parts and a thousand ways to do it. This is mine.




Traveling doesn’t define my life, it is my life. It is who I am.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard



That, but with less philosophy



Moving around, getting up with the sunrise, exposing myself to danger, hiking, getting lost, walking, shouting, crying. Hunger, happiness, worries, laughs, talks and music. Surprises, ambition, energy. That’s me. And that’s exactly how I travel, or how the travel leads me. I always knew I wasn’t built to stay in France and have a peaceful life, a long-term job and start a family. I don’t look at traveling as a way to take holidays instead of working, I don’t look at traveling as a peaceful lazy life  under the sunshine. Adventure hits me hard, in good and bad ways. Feeling my heart pounding when its time to go again, feeling the adrenaline when I think someone is following me as I hold on to my pocket knife. Traveling is not a holiday, but a way of life. A different life, but a way to lead mine anyway. I have long-term projects, the sames as you, but different.  Adopting kids, build a wooden house, open my own school.


Be happy. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving” Lao Zu

Cutting off on the cheap psychology. This not a pursuit of happiness, this is not a spiritual travel, it is not my personal legend. Because all these imply that there is a goal in traveling but there isn’t. I lead the life I like and it makes me happy.


Where the heck are we?



Understanding.  ″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

Keeping an open mind on everything is surely the hardest thing to do for me. I think of myself as a tolerant person but can’t help to frown upon some attitudes, some customs like watching the 8 year-old kid work in his parents restaurant until 2A.M on a school day or making promises for the sake of it. But everyday I work on it, and I take a deep plunge into the culture to understand why people behave like they do. And when I get it, my heart feels lighter, at peace, and it says :”of course, how could it be otherwise”.

Traveling is learning. Learning simple things, like cooking entire dishes with a microwave, eating with chopsticks, fighting shame to use the doorless public toilets. Little things that make me independent and that make part of the living traveling journal I have become.


a museum in Qatar


And then, there’s learning about people. It’s more than learning, it’s welcoming their idea of life, it’s embracing their differences and taking from them. Smiling when thinking about how people reacted when I went through the men restaurant entrance in Qatar, how I enjoyed wearing an abaya or being followed and shouted at by Chinese who found it crazy not to take a taxi to the top of the mountain.

We always talk about aggressions, rapes, scams, killings. But we never talk about the wonderful people that make our world an incredible place. We never talk about all the generous, loving persons that are out there, waiting for a smile, waiting for a sign to help you, to share with you.


A happy family


Travel, and the negativity goes away. Travel, and the fears go away.

Yes, there are dangerous countries, dangerous people. Yes, your plane can crash at any moment for any reason. But what about the nice fellows out there? What about all those planes that haven’t crashed?

Observing, understanding and learning. You would be surprised to see how much you can have with a smile and an open mind. You would be surprised to see how much you can share with a simple drink or a cigarette, a book or a song.


Traveling is becoming the kid you once were and using all the words you cross off when you turn into a grown-up person: Getting excited, life is wonderful, these people were so nice, Waaaaa, I want more. The optimism that children naturally have in themselves traveling gives it back to you. Looking at your life with excitement and a smile, even when you are dealing with budget or responsibilities or unpleasant situations.



the biggest kid I’ve ever seen





October 21, 2013

Leave a Reply