There will never be a right time to travel… but you should do it anyway

2017-08-07 06:39 - Nadia krige
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to travel.

Perhaps this desire for mobility started during baby days, when my mom would ever so often hop onto a Flossie in Windhoek – where we lived for three years while my dad served as an officer in the army – and head to Pretoria for family occasions, of which there were always many. She’d bundle my older brother and I onto the large-bellied plane and there the three of us would sit among the young troops. A homely picture amid the austerity of military life.

Then, of course, there were the myriad family holidays – winters in the bush and summers by the sea – destinations we would always reach via multi-stop road trips.

But I think the big kindling came in April of 1995 when I was nine-years-old and my parents took us on a full-blown, hard-earned European adventure.

Over two weeks we visited Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Portugal.

We saw Lake Geneva and the Eiffel Tower, explored the canals of Venice and played in knee-deep snow on an Alpine mountain pass. We ate a rotisserie chicken on a sidewalk bench in Paris and a passerby said “bon appetit.”

I remember sharing a train compartment with a sad-looking old man in Italy and wanting to cry every time I looked at him.

In Austria, we slept at the Hotel Bären and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the cloudy levels of comfort offered by a goose-down duvet.  On another train we met a young mother and her sweet baby daughter, whom she called by her full name: Maria-Elizabeth. The toddler was so cute, I couldn’t help but give her the bouncy ball I had just exchanged a precious foreign coin for.

There was a lot of running for far-off stations, terminals and platforms. Also a slightly terrifying lost passport episode. A street artist drew a picture of me in Montmatre and, for some reason, I was NOT impressed. But in the end, these less happy moments soon became jokes and the others distilled into pure gold magic.

SEE: My grandfather's passport

I talked about travelling a lot as I grew older and wished for it desperately in my late teens and early twenties. I just wanted to go. Anywhere.

But, strangely, I never did. When I had the chance, I didn’t take a gap year and never studied abroad. I thought about exchanging a summer holiday here for a working winter at a ski resort in the States, but also let that slip by.

There was always an excuse – most often money-related, but beneath that probably a plain old fear of the unknown. It’s just not the right time, I’d always say when yet another set of tentative travel plans fell through.

In retrospect, I want to shake my younger self and shout into her ears: don’t be stupid! Find a part-time job – two if you have to - and save. Drink less beer. Buy less food. Don’t be afraid of what you’re going to miss out on here, when there’s so much to gain.  

Then, by some crazy stroke of luck, I managed to find a job that handed travel to me on a silver platter (right here at Traveller24). I saw Vietnam, Dubai, Namibia, Mozambique and a whole lot of South Africa at someone else’s expense and, also, someone else’s precious hours spent on the admin that always goes into jetting off. (And because of that, it always felt a bit like cheating.)

SEE: Find Your Escape Namibia

Upon entering my 30s, I thought that maybe my longing for new places would eventually languish and I’d find solace in settling. And for a while there, it seemed that indeed I would.

But then, I received an invitation to visit a friend in Taipei and she simply wouldn’t accept “hmmm… I’d love to, but will have to see about *insert excuses here*” for an answer. Relentlessly, she’d message me at least once a week to ask whether I had set any dates.

I thought about my cousin in Bangkok and how nice it would be to have a little peak into her life too. I started searching for flights online that would combine these two major Asian cities into a single trip. Eventually – probably on the thousandth search, this time with the help of an agent – I found myself completing the transaction.

And soon thereafter – as though some floodgate had opened - completing another: this one to accompany my mother on a walk along the Camino Portuguese.

For many, many reasons it’s not a good time to go: my monthly income has shrunk (and almost overnight), my boyfriend - who shares my yearning for elsewhere - can’t join me due to financial constraints and family complications (which I also feel guilty about not being here 24/7 to support him through), possible adverse weather during the time I will be visiting Taipei, not being fit enough for a 260km walk, deadlines, houseplants, personal projects…

My knee-jerk reaction has been to postpone. Yet again. As always. But if not now, then when?

The point is – unless you’re filthy rich or divinely free-spirited, there will never be a good or simple time to travel.

Something that seems to be especially true for women – mothers whose hearts wring at the thought of leaving behind kids, wives and girlfriends with life partners they’re afraid of letting down, bosses and entrepreneurs who’ve broken so many glass ceilings, they feel they can’t afford to let the progress slide.

Or maybe this doesn’t resonate. Because, maybe for you, the big dream – the one you’ve been avoiding through misplaced fear - isn’t travel.

Maybe it’s starting your own business, nurturing your artistic talent, writing that novel, training for a marathon, signing up for a silent retreat, having a baby.

The right time to do whatever it is you have to do will never come knocking at your door.

In fact, chances are, you’re going to have to fight for it – mostly with yourself. You’re going to have to commit and, inevitably, there are going to be things you neglect and maybe even leave behind.

What I wish for you this Women’s Month, dear reader, is ever-growing courage to seek out that big thing you’ve been sweeping aside. To look yourself in the eye and ask why. And then, I hope you treat it so tenderly, that the moment it’s ready to be realised you’ll know exactly what to do. I hope you complete the transaction, whatever it may be, and that a floodgate of adventure, whatever form it may take, will open for you too.

In the meantime, bon voyage to all of us, as we set out on these journeys of discovery.  

Nadia Krige is a freelance journalist and travel writer, follow her journey on Twitter and Instagram.

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