A travelers trade

June 20th, 2020

Fulfillment comes at a cost; good or bad, we’ll pay the price for every choice we make. A big turning point in my life was when I had to choose between home and stability or breaking away and risking the unknown. Life abroad has been an adventure, but not all days are good days.

I’ll never forget my first solo trip to New York City. I took the wrong train (or was it the subway?) three times and ended up miles away from where I was supposed to be. Eventually I found my way back to where I started, alone with a lot of luggage late at night. I ended up taking an overpriced taxi to my accommodation – utterly defeated.

The entire year I spent in Seattle I did not meet a single South African. No one there could speak my language or relate to my experience of culture shock.

Not long after moving to Seattle, one of my closest friends set a date for her wedding and asked me to be a brides maid. As an Aupair I didn’t earn enough money to book a 15 hour flight in the middle of my contract year, and I regret to this day that I could not attend. That wasn’t the only wedding I missed out on, along with birthdays, anniversaries, you name it.

In the last three years I only spent one Christmas at home with my family. I dealt with losing a grandmother and a dog without the comforting embrace of someone I’ve known all my life.

Last year, after having the best time with friends in Peru, I faced a 32 hour journey (three flights and nine hours at an airport) without company.

Earlier this year on a sunny Saturday in London I was making my commute from the airport to the city. I sat opposite a lady who seemed to have said goodbye to a loved one, sobbing shamelessly. The honest expression of a strangers pain had me catching my own tears in my scarf, for I was also nursing a broken heart. Crying with a stranger on a train in a foreign country is a different type of loneliness.

Physical factors like getting sick or constantly having to deal with jet lag doesn’t make the emotional struggle any easier. But ask me anytime if I am happy with the way I chose to live my life, the answer will always be YES.

As much as this journey can sometimes be a lonely one, every step of the way is liberating. Every road has its obstacles and we’ll always have to make sacrifices along the way, but in the end it’s the rewards that make it worth it.

Let me know what you had to give up to live the life you always dreamed of and if it was worth it in the end.

This is a follow-up on my previous post A travelers pursuit. In this ‘Traveler’ series (which happened unintentionally) I touch on what it means to be a traveler. The next post will be about the rewards of a life outside of ones comfort zone, which will be my first guest feature by Hello City Girl. πŸ˜€

Please let me know If you have any suggestions for more topics related to this subject or if you’d like to share your story on my blog. We may not be able to travel at the moment, but we can still connect and share experiences whilst looking forward to brighter days!

46 thoughts on “A travelers trade

  1. Sounds familiar, everything you write about. A long list of missed weddings and of holidays away from family and friends. Being sick on an island with nothing but a small pharmacy, getting on wrong trains in Japan… Deaths of family members while you are on the other side of the world. It’s tough. But, it’s the life we choose over and over again, each day anew. Thanks for writing the post. It made me think of so many moments from the past five years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know exactly what I’m talking about πŸ™‚ I’m glad the post made you reminisce a little, it’s nice to see how things fall into place eventually, and how the unpleasant moments along the road helped you grow in your journey. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts, I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post. I remember my first solo trip to New York and I couldn’t help but share a smile when reading this, as I also got lost more than a few times myself. But it was the best thing that I ever did and it opened my eyes up to a whole new world of possibilities πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who got lost in NYC! Like you, it also turned out to be one of my absolute favorite cities and I’m now more prepared for the unforeseen whenever I visit new places. Sometimes getting lost leads to unplanned adventures πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I first travelled alone to a foreign country when I was about 20. I went to Belgium – Brussels to a summer course, and I remember how lost I felt in the airport, looking for the train station … Overcoming that moment by myself increased my self-confidence a lot!
    Travelling and living abroad have their low points, but I think they expand one’s horizon so much! Definitely worth it!

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  4. Traveling solo and living abroad are incredibly rewarding, but they also come with a price of loneliness and isolation at times. Even the most-independent voyager will feel these sentiments. I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m trying to strike a balance between my independence and company, and I’m open to trying new things while on the road, whether alone or with others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Balance is very important! I know myself better now to be able to find that balance, thanks to all these solo adventures πŸ™‚ I am at the point where I prefer traveling with company, but I’m more confident in my independence should the opportunity arise for another solo adventure. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never say that I “gave up” something. It was never a sacrifice, but always a conscious choice. Once my daughter, then sixteen or seventeen, said: Mom, you sacrificed so much for us! And I told here – I NEVER sacrificed anything. I always did what I wanted. I did not regret not being able to travel or simply go out when I had small kids and no help. because having these kids was completely-entirely my choice. Going to another country with three small kids and three hundred dollars was my choice :). Being single for a big stretch of my life was my choice. Being in the most unconventional marriage is my choice. Spending insane money to maintain our distributed arrangements is my choice (altered by the travel bans at the moment:))

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love your mindset! And I absolutely agree, it is a conscious decision and as long as you stay true to yourself you won’t regret the choices you made. Thank you for reading and for sharing your experience, Hettie! I admire people who live unconventional lives, it’s brave and very inspiring ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The tiring nature of the commute doesn’t help for sure, carrying luggage late at night too… literally the worst! But I guess it is like exercise for the mind, it’s tough at first but ultimately makes it worthwhile for those that want to put in the work.

    For me, it is missing family and friends. Sometimes the homesickness hits me unexpectedly, but we are very fortunate to communicate in so many ways now. Instantly too. This helps make it a lot easier for me to be far from home.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. An exercise for the mind – yes absolutely! It’s easier to get over the bumps in the road if your mind is strong and if you’re focused on what you want to achieve.
      I’m also thankful for technology which makes it easier to stay in touch with whoever we carry in our hearts! My mom received multiple calls from me whining and crying in some strange lonely place, and then she’d tell me to pull myself towards myself because at least I get to be miserable somewhere across the world haha – wise words πŸ˜‰
      But homesickness does have a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.. At least “home” isn’t going anywhere, we can always go back πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve not been brave enough to travel alone but have had to make sacrifices for my adventures. Mainly financial – we are not rich so travelling takes all a lot of extra money that could be used for a cool new kitchen or snazzy clothes. It’s all in your perspective.

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    1. Traveling is expensive! This is one of the reasons why I could only travel abroad by working abroad, as the currency of my home country is so weak that I’d have to save up for years to do one trip! You’re right, it is all about perspective. I can see myself also leaning more towards a cool kitchen and snazzy clothes one day πŸ˜‰ I’m glad I get to work abroad and travel now – get it out of my system ..


  8. Wow, such a lovely post! It filled me with nostalgia of things I’ve never experienced! I can totally understand that you felt this was, even if I have no idea what it actually feels like! It’s amazing that you don’t mention those things with regret but accept them because they’re part of your way of living!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the beauty of it – no matter how tough the journey may be at times, as long as you have no regrets in the end you know you chose the right path πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading! I hope you get to experience traveling solo at least once in your life, for the sake of future nostalgia πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally relate. Traveling abroad, and even living there, is such an amazing experience and it changes your perspective big time! I am learning so much and I think this is part of the reason why I am slowly thinking maturely. But just like you said, as much as it’s fun and rewarding, it also comes with sacrifices. Yes, it’s super hard, but it’s super worth it. You are so brave and strong! Thank you for sharing this! This post comforted me. I feel not alone in this *virtual huggg*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is what I love most about my journey abroad – it gave me experiences that so many people can relate to and I can also better relate to people from different ways of life. It connects us and makes the world a smaller, less scary place πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope it brought back some good memories of your own journey. Virtual hugs right back at ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve definitely taken the wrong train and ended up getting lost before! I can also understand how you feel not being able to see your friends and family back home very often. Living abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life, but it comes with some costs.

    Liked by 1 person

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