How Making a Trip Around The World Will Change You
Though maybe not in the way you might expect
When we were kids, we never travelled much. My parents worked hard to provide for us kids — and there were 5 of us! Money was tight, travelling as a family was an unknown concept for my parents. During our summer holidays, our parents would take us to stay at my grandparents’ farm. I hated it. There was always plenty of work, for both young and for old. The days were hot and every hand was needed on a big farm. I believe, I must’ve been around eight years old when I swore to myself that I’d be travelling the world someday.
My hunger for travelling and even moving to a faraway country became almost unbearable.
I spent my teenage years dreaming about travelling. My friends seemed to travel so much. My hunger for travelling and even moving to a faraway country became almost unbearable. I couldn’t wait to grow up and get started! And, you guessed right, that’s exactly what I did.
Barely 19 years old, I got my driving license. At the end of the 90s air travel was very expensive, so my best friend and I took my Toyota Camry and travelled half of Europe. Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Hungary, Slovenia and Germany. The neighbouring countries were beautiful and budget-friendly. Life was great. My old Toyota, the wind in our hair, Jon Bon Jovi on the radio and a big appetite for adventure! We truly felt like we were conquering the world!
At the age of 23 I decided to jump into the cold water and discover another continent! Europe was not enough anymore and like an addict I needed more. So I booked a flight to New York City! Imagine this, 2 weeks alone in New York and all this in a time where there were no smartphones, no WiFi on all corners, no Google Maps etc. I booked my hotel room via landline and, boom, I was in New York! A heavenly experience! Everything looked like in the movies and NYC quickly became my most favourite city in the world.
By the time I finished university, I began to wonder what could be next on my bucket list of travel adventures? My boyfriend Mike and I have always wanted to live abroad, so we figured that making a trip around the world might help us in finding a new home. We saved up and left Vienna in April 2015. We set course to the east and planned on travelling for 12 months.
I guess we felt so much stuck in life, we really expected this trip to turn everything, and I mean everything, around.
When I think back, it’s hard to say what we were really expecting from this trip. It took almost 2 years to save money and prepare for such a huge project. After all, we were planning to be on the road for a year. But to sum it up, I guess we felt so much stuck in life, we really expected this trip to turn everything, and I mean everything, around. Of course, the aspect of travelling was our focus while we were planning and getting ready. We wanted to travel, see different cultures, taste different food — travelling was simply our passion. But nonetheless, this trip seemed to be the ultimate chance to see and feel new environments, to explore new possibilities — and find new happiness. We were so excited to finally leave Vienna, meet new people and get away from our boring jobs and boring lives.
Before the trip we read a lot about the countries we were going to visit. There were so many fascinating things in every single one of them! We couldn’t wait to see Russia, India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Hawaii and California and the west coast of Canada. Everything was going to be stunning, breathtaking, just sensational. And it definetely was!
But when dreams come true, they make room for new thoughts.
But when dreams come true, they make room for new thoughts. And so the sobriety of the world caught up with us. Distance is a great thing, faraway countries even greater, but through the veil of adventure and hope for a brighter future, we could not deny that we had left some serious bagagge back at home. I started asking myself why I kept running away from home? Why did we have to live on another continent? What career path should I take, should we take? Which jobs would guarantee enough income and the freedom to travel once we moved abroad? Which careers would work out best abroad? Would the authorites accept our Austrian degrees? Where should we move? Should we stay in our little apartment in Vienna or rent another space once we came back? How should Mike and I handle his parents in the future (they didn’t like me at all)? Questions were piling up. The desperation was real for both of us. We were both at a point in our lives where we wanted answers. And the uncertainty was eating away at us. We had expected this trip to deliver final answers but travelling can only open up your mind to possibilities. It can never solve a problem for you nor can it form your future or make decisions for you. And that was maybe my most painful lesson:
I had focussed so much on working hard and saving money for this trip, that I had completely forgotten to take my time, sit down and think about what was going to happen AFTER that trip.
My desperation culminated with me standing in New York crying and telling Mike that I didn’t want to go back home at all. Because at home you had to make the right decisions and I felt completely paralized, unable to think about decisions, let alone make them.
By the end of our trip, I pressured myself really hard into thinking that I had to have all answers by the time we would return home. I was 34 and I felt like time was running out. I had to have answers and our damn journey didn’t give me any! I was supposed to go on that trip, see the world and come back home, fully transformed! But I wasn’t feeling transformed. I felt desperate and a little depressed. It felt like I was waiting for some kind of Heureka moment. But it never came. My desperation culminated with me standing in New York crying and telling Mike that I didn’t want to go back home (NYC was our last station before heading back to Vienna). Because at home you had to make the right decisions and I felt completely paralized, unable to think about decisions, let alone make them. And for the first time ever, he didn’t have an answer either.
A couple of days later we flew home. I was very sad about the fact that we still hadn’t figured out where we wanted to live and how to achieve that mission. We liked Australia very much but the visa regulations there are insane. We also liked Canada, particulary Montreal, but again the visa regulations were very strict. We both wanted to settle properly in a country, conforming to all visa and entry regulations. I refused to move somewhere and then get kicked out of the country because of the paperwork. So moving abroad seemed impossible at the time. I swallowed my pride and went back to my old job and Mike kept running his little business. We were both clueless about our future. We felt like losers, somehow.
Without us even realizing it, our journey had not ended yet. Instead it continued on the inside. The thoughts were travelling now.
However, something had changed. We had changed. Our attitudes had changed. Without us even realizing it, our journey had not ended yet. Instead it continued on the inside. The thoughts were travelling now. Millions of possibilities opened up before us.
The trip that we had expected to change our lives so much definitely changed our lives. But not in the way expected. We haven’t settled in another country yet but we’re in no hurry anymore. We have made immense professional and personal progress in the past 4 years.
We were both able to leave our boring and draining jobs and make new careers. Today Mike works as a programmer and continues to pursue his entrepreneurial ideas. I left my old job in April 2017 and spent 3 months alone in New York. I’ve always wanted to live in NYC and Mike totally encouraged me in going after my dreams. I experimented with becoming a singer in NYC, then moved to Canada for a month and finally came back to Vienna. I became part of a Blues-formation and sang mini-concerts in Vienna. Also, I worked with a local theater in Vienna and became its music director. Great experiences that I would not want to miss.
For 1.5 years I lived as a singer/photographer/youtuber/amateur actress/music director for a local theater production/sales assistant and part-time teacher before I finally decided to turn my passion into a profession. So since May 2019 I’ve been working as a language trainer for German and English and I couldn’t be happier. I also do photography jobs every now and then and I help Mike with his projects.
But when you take a chance and finally end up sitting in the jungle of Samoa, more than 16000 km away from home, only then you start realizing that it is you that has to change. Not your environment.
Looking back, I can’t help but notice that it was travelling around the world that confronted me with my real problems — impatience, uncertainty and crisis. I knew that something had to change, but I didn’t know how, when, where, …. There were too many questions and perhaps too little courage to take a new perspective. I felt trapped in my own life. But when you take a chance and finally end up sitting in the jungle of Samoa, more than 16000 km away from home, only then you start realizing that it is you that has to change. Not your environment. Not the city you live in. Not the people around you. But you yourself have to change. You yourself have to make that journey! And that’s where we are, still on our journey.
Mike and I still dream about living in a foreign country. But if we leave Austria, we’ll do so for the right reasons. For adventure. But not in expectance for it to change our lives completely. Because that we can only do ourselves. I believe we are on the right path now.
PS Mike’s parents and I have made some progress. We have lunch occasionally and that’s a wonderful development for all of us.