“Who can travel the world with me?”
My Facebook notification kindly reminded me that once upon a time, how eager I was to have someone to explore the world with me. That was eight years ago. A year after I got bit by the travel bugs in Spain and the Netherlands in 2008.
I try to remind myself how I felt when I updated the status. Most likely “the world” meant countries outside of Asia and North America, and most likely, I was hoping my boyfriend at the time would tell me he would join me on my adventures, which did not happen. (But we managed to make some road trips in the states together, which were awesome.)
I kept scrolling to see what else happened on the same day over the years. Then it was three years ago: I became Facebook friends with someone who later broke my heart. Who I no longer speak to anymore.
We met at one of the Couchsurfing Meetups in Taipei. He was one of the first people I met who had travelled for years. “How many countries have you been to?” I asked. Possibly a question every long-term traveller receives now and then. “Many. Thirtysomething? I didn’t keep track. I have been travelling for more than two years.”
That was a whole new concept to me. I didn’t know travelling for that long is possible. Not on a working holiday visa, and not an expat or student working or studying abroad. He travelled just for the sole purpose of travelling. It was fascinating, and that was the kind of lifestyle I yearned for.
As soon as he added me on Facebook, he invited me to travel with him for a few days in another city of Taiwan. I hesitated, then agreed. I helped us booked a hostel. It was also my first time travelling with a complete stranger. I thought to myself, if it didn’t feel right, I could always just leave. Well, you probably knew it already. I didn’t leave. This encounter soon sprinted into a romance which eventually led to an end. A bad one, too. For me at least.
“I don’t want to travel with another person. Travelling together for a week or two is okay, but I want to go by myself.” He said to me, only a few months after he told me he liked travelling with me.
For a long time, my deepest desire was to explore every corner of the world with someone I love. To me, that is the ultimate romantic relationship. (Of course, I completely ignored the fact that travelling with your romantic partner 24/7 won’t always be unicorns and butterflies.) In fact, when we met, I thought he could be that person. I thought I had found him. Clearly, I was wrong.
It’s funny how things work.
I’ve certainly changed a lot from eight years ago, or even from the moment I met him. I learned how to live in the present and simply just enjoy the moment. Travelling unplanned doesn’t scare me anymore. I no longer ask “who can travel the world with me?” Instead, I pack my bag and leave when I want to, and when I can. I realised life is too short to wait for someone else.
Every person you met in your life is here to teach you something, despite how disruptive was your meeting.
I began to travel alone. A lot, too. For a matter of a fact, solo travel became the kind of travel I thoroughly enjoyed. Now I understood why that guy would want to travel solo. Some friends wanted to come with me, but I always left before they were ready. It was almost like I was running away from travelling with the others. Planning was no longer necessary. Couchsurfing had my loyalty. If no one could host me, I would find whichever budget hostel that was available. Sometimes, I stayed with the locals I just met.
Solo travel had made me into someone I thought I would never become.
Hell, I even went to my childhood dream honeymoon destination Santorini all by myself.
And one year and 11 countries later, I met Jim. Or more precisely, we found each other at a small hostel near the city centre of Ohrid, Macedonia.
As of today, we’ve travelled in 9 countries together already. (The 10th country is coming soon!)
As our relationship keeps evolving, I realised I got the procedure of “looking for the one” all wrong before. The truth is, when you become who you wish to be, you’ll never have to search. That person will come to you. I know because that was exactly how it happened for me.
If you want to travel with the one you love, get on the road and be the person you’d love. If you want to have someone who goes on adventures with you, start taking risks. Fall in love, get lost and travel with people you just met. After all, knowing what kind of traveller you are is important for you to find your tribe.
Stop waiting and make that overdue solo trip. Before you know it, that person will be there. By then, it’s no longer a question about who can, but who will.