Travel, Failure, And The Lessons They Teach Us

You know, travel is kind of awful. Everyone telling you the opposite is certainly paid by some secret service. These endless lines at the airport, annoying security, constant delays! Heavy luggage and packing headache! Lost baggage, found baggage, damaged baggage!

Sleepless nights and early wakeups! Thieves and scammers, plus these merchants that want a double price for their lousy goods! Bad traffic, problems at hotels, expensive taxis, expensive and/or bad food, creepy people that stare at you as if you were from another galaxy, boring tours, crowded streets and beaches, mosquitoes, snakes, monkeys that steal your stuff, bad weather, bad roads… The list, if fully unrolled, could take up half of the globe. All that stress! Remember that time when you missed your flight because your alarm didn’t go off? Or your mother-in-law took her time applying makeup? Or the security decided to triple-check you? Or you just confused your gates? Oh the amount of nerve cells that die during travel!
But thunder or lightning, we still do it. Thousands of people pack their bags every day and set out into the unknown. They don’t want to stay at their comfortable homes, these crazyheads, no – for some reason, they hit the road in pursuit of adventures. It can be getting to a quiet (or not-so-quiet) beach or a loud foreign megapolis, a wild jungle or an urban village, but the travel bug has them all.
There are so many things that can discourage you from traveling, from news reports to bad weather forecasts to some neighbor’s negative remark. There are many chances that your trip won’t go as smoothly as planned at some point. And hey, folks live their lives happily without ever leaving their home countries. So why bother?
Yesterday, after missing my flight from San Francisco to Missoula by seconds (because my brain just refused to work) and going back to my friend’s place, angry, sad, and embarrassed, I caught myself thinking that I would’ve rather preferred a pleasant morning at home with a book and a cup of tea. After all, none of the kind happens to you at home… right?
Except that you have to deal with all the traffic, an annoying boss, demanding relatives, an over-energetic cat, and what not. Each time I face a travel challenge I have to remind myself why I am on the road. Things get difficult everywhere, and I am on the road only because after a few weeks at home I go crazy, craving for some new experiences, new places, new people, and new discoveries. I have to constantly move forward, challenging myself and overcoming my fear of failure. And that’s the only way to travel: each failure is in fact your victory, that gives you a hands-on experience and lets you find yourself in different circumstances with different opportunities.
We humans are afraid of many things. It can be public speaking or little children, darkness or birds, heights or closed spaces. But we all are subconsciously afraid of failing. The fear of failure stops us from booking these flights and finding these couches and reaching out for people we thought we lost contact with. But the truth is, whatever you do in life, sometimes you will fail. Learning to have a good laugh out of it and find positive sides is important to not get discouraged to try new things and go new places.
Travel is a part of our personal experience, something unique, individual and very private, something that forms our personalities and makes us grow and develop. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the way to self-exploration. You never know who you’re going to meet on your journey, or what you’re going to see, and how it will influence you. By refusing to travel we refuse ourselves the right for knowledge that can be never acquired at school.
Yes, you may get robbed and mobbed, you may miss your connection or lose your favorite token, you may find yourself stuck in a place and not knowing what to do; let it be. In the end, it will all work out, and you will be rewarded with new experience, new friends, and new perspective. Most importantly, in times of trouble don’t be shy to reach out for people. Random strangers helped me quite a few times on the road. After all, travel is about positive thinking – no prejudice, no complaining, no negativity. As long as you let yourself think that in the end everything’s going to be all right, you’ll be fine. Just get out of your cave and let the world in!

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