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3 Things I Learned While Backpacking the World

There I was: I’d just finished my Bachelor’s degree, I’d worked 4 jobs to pay for my tuition, and I took my remaining money to fund my dream trip through South Africa and Europe. I spent two months away from my little Hobbit hole in southern Ontario, visited 10 countries, and took more trains and planes than I can even fathom (though, I now have an aversion to ticket machines. Stress level through the roof).

Sounds amazing, right? Well, it was. But it wasn’t just because I got to see all the places I’d only ever read about on Wikipedia. I happened to learn a few life lessons along the way.

1. Travelling is Fantastic Inspiration

It’s no surprise that I’m a writer. I live, eat, and breathe writing. I talk so much about it now, I make myself nauseous – and everyone else, I’m sure. Shameless self-promotion has become my best friend (check out my page for the latest release details for my first novel).

However, before leaving on this trip, I’d hit a wall. I felt drained, uninspired, and not enthusiastic about my work. But that all changed. Travelling was like breathing fresh air. I’d seen so many places and met so many people of differing life stories that I found inspiration from things I would never have encountered within my everyday 50-kilometer radius. It gave me new experience to draw from. It gave me a new sense of purpose and motivation. I came back ready to pursue my dreams.

2. The World Isn’t Such a Bad Place

Grab a pillow: it’s story time. I was still in undergrad. I had this dream of uprooting myself for a bit and going away. So I did. South Africa was the first stop. I went with a fantastic group of people, and our flight actually started us off in Johannesburg.

You should have seen the reactions I got when I told people.

“Johannesburg?” Someone said. “Be careful! It’s a dangerous place! You could get killed.”

Real talk for a second: Johannesburg can be dangerous… but so can everywhere else. All it takes is the wrong place and the wrong situation and bad things can happen. Hell, I got mugged in my own neighbourhood – and it’s a pretty safe neighbourhood!

The point is, there’s a lot of good too. Most everyone I met while travelling was awesome. I never found myself in a situation where I felt unsafe. If anything, people were eager to meet me and to help. Not everyone was an axe-murderer who wanted to steal my money.

Look! I didn't die!

Look! I didn’t die!

3. There’s No Place Like Home

But you already knew that, right? I mean Judy Garland said it like 8,000 times during the Wizard of Oz, and I adored that movie as a kid.

But I guess I never really internalized it. It’s one of those situations where you never really realize what you have until it’s gone. Halfway across the world, I missed my family and friends and my partner of two years. Even when I returned, it was like I saw things in a new light. I appreciated all the people who supported and loved me. I even appreciated all the things I had found draining or mundane.

And I appreciated my car. God, did I miss my car. (Cue ticket machine-induced stress).

Gondola, you say? Where's my car?

Gondola, you say? No, no. Car, please.


Where have you travelled? What did you learn?