I’ve just touched back down in Brisbane after an overseas trip that was as restorative as it was exhausting. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent so much time on planes and trains, and awhile since I felt so disconnected from everyday life. It was freeing and difficult, all at the same time.
I’ve yet to experience a trip that didn’t test my patience, positivity, and ability to make dull moments sparkle. For me, the best part of travel has always been the discovery of new landscapes and seascapes. I fall in love with them quickly and completely, and tend to spend much of my time away daydreaming about how to avoid being permanently parted from their unique beauty. I'm the sort of homebody who never wants to choose just one home.
I see traveling as a kind of perceptual paradox. On the one hand jet setting is the stuff of dreams - it's a sort of a glamorous lifestyle (if you gloss over long hauls in economy). It's so easy to look back at instagram moments of sweeping vistas, pretty coastal towns, and fabulous meals in exotic cities and think, “yes, this is really living.”
On the other hand, a trip doesn’t mean much if I don’t come back feeling at least a little bit transformed. Removed from my usual habits I’m more searching, more vulnerable, more open to self-interrogation. It can be conformational, disruptive, even confusing. But no matter what comes up, it’s that inner journey I always remember best when through old albums of trips gone by.
Of course the changes wrought by getting away don’t have to be dramatic. A moment away from ordinary circumstances can surprise you by showing someone you know well in a slightly different light. A week spent in a tiny rural cottage with someone relatively unknown is a surefire way to get to know them intimately. And travelling on your own invariably opens you up to new people and experiences that stay with you.
Travel is also an opportunity to experience disconnection. Whether you’re lost in translation, cut off by distant time zones, or somewhere so remote you’ve lost your wifi signal, there’s something unsettling and so very precious about being unable to work. For me, being forced to trust that things will keep turning over at the shop is always the greatest mental and organisation challenge standing between me and the open road. Yet after the initial panic subsides it feels incredibly good to put away email, social media, and FaceTime.
While spending less time intensively working and more time exploring the wider world is still a life goal, the truth is that nothing can replace real human contact when it comes to working happily and productively as a team. I suppose ultimately that realization is what trips like this are for: to discovering the world and yourself… but most of all to reaffirm a desire to return.