Recently I read the following on a travel forum:
trees are made with roots, people with legs.
we are meant to wander!
and wonder, with both senses of the word!
Immediately, I was inspired to write a post about this coupled with the daily prompt from a couple of days ago: The happy wanderer.
What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?
This is strange to write about, because I feel like my style is always changing…I seem to have two different kinds of travel.
- Work and travel
What I have done all my summers since 10th grade is work and travel. I would pick a country/region I wanted to see and then figure out what I was going to do there. It was important for my mum, and for me, that I didn’t just do ‘nothing’, that I was gaining work experience. I made sure to do jobs that I enjoyed (I am very proud to say that I have never had a job that I have not enjoyed doing!) Since this time I knew I wanted to help countries develop, and I thought that education would be the best way to do this. So I made sure to find programmes that would get me into this field of work.
So far, I’ve done the following:
- I lived in a rural Romanian village for two months planning and running a summer school for the children. I was able to do this through the Austrian Embassy in Bucharest who run several programmes in this village.
- Some kids and I worked together to create a play (pretty much from scratch) within the SOS-Childrens Village of Bucharest, Romania
- I worked in a public school and a learning centre in Rural Nepal
- I went to Oslo, Norway as part of the Summer University to take a course in Development and Globalization
- I worked in an orphanage in a small town in Moldova for two months the summer after I graduated high school and was able to travel to areas of the Ukraine I hadn’t seen before either.
- As part of my research for University, I was able to come back to Romania to get to know Bucharest from a very different angle.
What I have to say about the work I have done is that I was very, very lucky to have the opportunities I had. Many of them were due to the contacts my parents had with the embassy and certain people in high positions in certain companies…but also, I didn’t earn any money for any of these jobs. Mostly I was paid in smiles, food and lodging, and work experience.
Something I would never do is pay those $2000 prices to work in an NGO in Nepal for 2 weeks. There really is no need to pay that much. Life in Nepal is incredibly cheap. When I was looking for a place to work in Nepal that was EXACTLY what I wanted to avoid. I had been looking at places to work at for years in Nepal. Only when I found FACE Nepal did I feel like the price I paid was appropriate for what I was getting. And it really was. Nobody’s really making a profit there, except the people who benefit from the NGO. The programmes are incredibly volunteer driven, and I would recommend it to anyone.
- Going back to the same places
Some people might not understand why I like to do this, but I tend to go back to the places I have visited (several times). From what I have experienced, it is different every single time. The place changes, but I also change a lot. Over the last couple of years I have changed so much; my world views, my education, my political standpoint, my clothing style and the number of piercings I have. All of these things shape me as the person I am becoming. And I hope I will never stop changing. It is incredibly interesting to go back to the same place for different reasons. You get to know so many different faces of the same place; you get to see new things that you didn’t know existed. Because of this, I am very glad I went back to Romania for my research. The week before I left I had quite a negative episode, because I felt so silly for going back to Romania. My university colleagues were going off to India or Ghana, places they’d never been to before, and I went back to Bucharest…bleh. But boy am I happy I did. I got to know this place in SUCH a different light. It was truly an enriching experience. And it is not an experience I could have had in a place I had not seen from the point of view of someone who knows the beautiful side of the place. Had I gone to a city I had never been to, to do my research I would probably have a very different image of the place than I have of Bucharest.
- Long haul bus journeys-local style
It is only recently that I started visiting places without a real purpose other than seeing the place. I used to always have a purpose in the places I visited. A reason to be there other than the city itself. Yes, I would go sight-seeing, but the purpose of my visit would be a sports tournament, my job, visiting friends, etc.
I am still not sure how much I like going to places simply for the sake of going to them. It’s what I have ahead of me now though. 4 weeks of travel, for the purpose of travel. I hope I meet lots of interesting people, and that I get to live somewhat like a local. It’s what I love about the type of travelling I have done so far…living with locals, being able to truly feel what the culture felt like. I don’t know how much I’ll like jetting (in slow buses…) across city and country borders to see as much as I can in as little time as possible. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a place I like and I’ll stay there for 3 weeks working with an NGO or something. Probably not, but we’ll see what the next month brings for me.
I love to hear about the way different people travel. What’s your style?