The travel contrasts we experience
This month’s linkup is focused around the contrasts in travel that we experience. For me, I’ve certainly had my fair share in the last few years, it’s hard to know where to begin?
From the quaint historical towns of Europe to the dusty red sand dunes of Namibia or the wilderness of Rwanda with Mountain Gorillas.
Then there’s the contrasts of New York City’s hustle and bustle to the vast white salt flats of Bolivia. The colourful vibrance of Bangkok to the pure green of Amazon rainforests. The contrasts are endless.
Contrasts of happiness
Some people have such little, yet they are bursting with happiness. Children in Africa wearing one of their few outfits, laughing and playing, running along the roadside waving at the cars that pass. You can’t help but smile at such incredible joy they release and realise that it’s not our possessions, clothing or housing that makes us happy. It is what’s inside, the happiness of being alive and well and having lovely people around us.
Whereas, in many western countries I’ve faced so many unhappy and grumpy people (I’ve even been one of them at times in London). These people may have a wardrobe fill of clothes, the latest gadgets, any medicine or vitamin they could need, yet they don’t seem happy.
This contrast made me really start to see what happiness really is. I travelled out of a backpack for almost 8 months, wearing the same clothes every few days. Now that I’m back in New Zealand, I’ve thrown away and donated a lot of clothing and items because I just don’t need them to be happy. I am travelling around with a decent suitcase and bag now as I find my feet in NZ, I have the luxury of more clothing, but now the focus is more on happiness rather than having.
Contrasts of travel styles
I’m a typical hostel-goer. Cheap, cleanish bed, breakfast and I’m content. I’m out to seek cultural experiences, not to be pampered. Yet, I will admit to having splashed out once and also reached the other end of the spectrum in camping in Africa.
Camping in Africa
The first time I did this was on a group tour, I was nervous, but it was absolutely fine. I actually enjoyed it so much that I’ve done it a few times since. Bit of dirt never hurt anyone. Using a dirt hole for a toilet is good practice for your squatting muscles. Realising your best friend is a head torch is a lifeline (particularly when the power goes out of a campsite in Botswana during a thunder and lightning storm).
Being so close to nature is awe-inspiring to say the least.
4 Star Resort in Egypt
I planned Egypt for Christmas after an upcoming camping trip in East Africa. I figured I’d treat myself because I thought camping would be really rough going. As I was alone, I’d been hoping to avoid Christmas celebrations in Egypt. I would plan some day tours and keep busy while having a treat. That was the plan.
First mistake was to think that all the resorts don’t cater for the Western world and wouldn’t celebrate Christmas. Next mistake was that very few solo travellers go resorts, particularly at Christmas time. I was stared at. I had luxury I felt I didn’t deserve. It was only me and I didn’t need the gigantic bed, towels and fancy room with a view. It was wasted on just me. The meals were the worst part. Breakfast I could get away with, but dinner was where the resort would have celebrations and vast families piling around tables.
Contrasts in travel purpose
Why do you travel? I can bet that it’s a slightly different reason to the 60 year old you meet in the hostel dorm or the 18 year old partying it up in the hostel bar.
I travel to experience another way of life, to see and understand other cultures and places. To discover the world and its history. To see amazing wildlife in their natural habitats, happy, healthy and free. To understand what others around the world have experienced themselves, how it has changed their lives and what I should learn from that.
That is vastly different from the 15 18 year-olds from Europe and the States that I volunteered with in a wildlife sanctuary in Ecuador. They were there to have fun and not to worry about others. Most were on parents money, so they didn’t understand the value in saving up and sacrificing for these life experiences to happen.
However, there are times when you meet people that have similar thoughts. This is when the discussions of travel and life lessons really blossom. Usually these people are a bit more mature in age, but still a lot of fun. From the Flight of the Conchords loving couple from Atlanta that I met in San Francisco, to the German couple that kept me company while I waited for a transfer in Costa Rica, or the pal that carried my backpack to the bus stop for me in Bariloche. There was the Dutch girl I met on a whale watching trip who was on my flight a few days later, both of us had injuries so we hiked at a good pace in Patagonia together.
All these people (and many more) I connected with really well because our travel purposes were somewhat similar somewhere along the way. I wish I could thank you all for sharing in my experiences.
So there are a few of my travel contrasts. I’m looking forward to many more in the years to come!
You’ve seen some real contrasts for sure, particularly good point about how grumpy people can be when they have so much, and those with a lot less are happier
Yep that’s a big takeaway from travelling in Africa!
Such an important point to remember – though sometimes very easy to forget…
Sounds like you’ve had some amazing experiences! I like your comparison for reason for travels especially, I think people have such different reasons but I hope most people get something great out of it. I’m like you – I just want to see different aspects and different ways of life! x
The contrasts in what makes different people happy can be a pretty big eye-opener. I like this part of travel, makes you reassess things and be more appreciative. Great post!
Definitely makes you look at life differently, but I think any decent travel experience changes you in some way, shape or form doesn’t it?
Such huge travelling contrasts. What an amazing travel experience in life you have had so far.
Thanks Zoe, it’s definitely a mix!
Wow mountain gorillas! Anyway. I definitely agree with you that reasons for travel often dictate how well you will get on with people you meet. I’ve had some great conversations with like minded people, and similarly felt like I couldn’t be any more different than others. And consequently wanted to get away as quickly as possible! Sounds like you learned a lot, and I’ve learned not to go to an Egyptian resort for a quiet, escapist Christmas!
Thanks Rachel, yes sounds like you can relate! Egypt is still awesome, but I’d be wary of expectations if you’d not used to resorts on your own!
I honestly think your travels are some of the most fun to follow along on. You’ve experienced it all I’m fairly sure!
Haha thanks for following along Dannielle! I think there’s always more to experience though!
What you mentioned about the kids in Africa and their smiles, I totally understand what you mean. Travelling through the deepest darkest places in Africa changes you; I always tell people that they need to do an overland tour in Africa before doing luxury safari parks so you can see and let Africa change you.
Yes! Africa totally changes you if you have an open mind. I don’t think anywhere else can quite compare!