Travel

#30by30: Making Space For The Traveler Within Me

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There were good signs right from the start. First of all, I slept on the plane. Oh my god, I know. It’s true. I slept! For like… Probably 6 hours. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Or at least it’s very rare. But it happened on this flight. I’m not even in first class, and I don’t have anyone next to me to lay on or a whole row to stretch out in. I slept upright, with just a measly blue blanket for comfort.

Also, my computer died while I was plugging away at dinner before the flight… And there was no plug in at my seat for it. So all the work I had intended to go through on this 9 hours in the sky was left untouched.

More time for sleeping I guess? I didn’t even make it through one movie in fact. Clearly, I am tired. And my body is letting me rest. If that’s not a sign…

For the last 2 years, life has been particularly busy. Entrepreneurship is so… all-consuming; it’s really taken over for me. I’m getting better with balance I think, and just all of it in general, learning lesson after lesson as I navigate this bumpy road unsure and in charge, but nevertheless–busy. I am an entrepreneur, every moment of every day. It’s magnificent. And it’s exhausting. But it’s a big part of me. The only part of me these days.

There is this other big part of me, however, that is a traveler. A me that would get highs from packing up a backpack, turning in my cell phone for a notebook and some local currency and hitting the road to find new adventures in new places. That part of me doesn’t have much space right now, or it hasn’t anyway. Not in the last 2 years. That’s not to say I haven’t traveled. Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve probably traveled more in the last 2 years than ever in my life. But it’s not the same kind of travel. I’m usually there for work, or I’m working while I’m there. (Because taking a vacation when you’re trying to run a successful start up is hard to do.) The care-free (ish), try-(almost)-anything girl who wasn’t afraid of a hostel bed and wrote blogs by hand first before transcribing them online in sweaty Internet cafes hasn’t had much room to exist lately. The girl who took time to sit and marvel and get lost in moments and stay up all night sipping wine with strangers/new friends is still in there, I think. It’s still a part of me.

And this month, I’m making some space for her.

Years ago, when I fell head over heels for traveling, I set a goal for myself. (An incredibly “Tessa” thing to do, for those that know me well.) I decided I wanted to visit 30 countries by my 30th birthday. There was a point in my life, when what I cared about most was getting married and starting a family… if you can believe it. But when Plan A fell to shit, I decided to ask myself some hard questions. Was this really what I wanted? Or was I just going through the motions? What was success, to me? I also decided I needed to get away and reset (calling off an engagement can really shake a girl up, you know) and so, I negotiated a month off work, found a companion (at a baby shower oddly enough) and set off for South America with only a backpack of essentials and a notebook in hand. And you know what? That trip transformed me. It opened my eyes. It pushed me far out of my comfort zone. It disconnected me, and in turn, really connected me to myself. My fresh-off-a-breakup self was re-energized and in love once again, but this time, with travel.

And so over the proceeding years, I traveled the crap out of this world. I hit world wonders like Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Sahara Desert in Morocco. I visited wineries and drank up every drop of the good stuff in Australia and Argentina. I learned the transit systems of big, busy London and hot, sweaty Puerto Vallarta. I hitchhiked around the island of Maui. I met friends on trips, and then made another trip out of visiting them. I was addicted to the high that was traveling. I remember that feeling, although it’s a little distant now.

I kept ticking country after country off my list, always determined to succeed (again… So “Tessa” of me) and about a year ago, I realized I was in the home stretch and mapped out my last few trips to take me to 30.

Now here I am, on Day 1 of my 30 days of my #30by30 trip. And I decided I didn’t just want to take this trip, I wanted to travel. Now, that looks a little different than it did for me when I was first setting out for Peru in 2009, and I have to be realistic about that. I do have responsibilities that I didn’t have back then. I have my business. I have my partner. His kids are also in the picture. It’s just different. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be the same in all the best ways–the ways I need it to be. I can still disconnect and reconnect. I can still let myself fall in love with all the new places. I can still marvel. I just have to give myself space to do that. Now, more than ever, I think I need this. Or I risk losing this part of me altogether. I love “entrepreneur” me, but that’s not all of me. Time to give another me some love.

I will spend the next 30 days traveling–in England, Greece and then last, but I’m quite sure not least… Italy. I will work for parts of it, because I have to, but “turn off” for most. And I will honour that part of me–the traveler in me. Because she made me who I am today.

And you know what else? I will also honour my success! 30 countries by my 30th birthday. I did it (or am about to) and I’m gonna celebrate that. This is a milestone. No, maybe it’s not a wedding or a baby, but it’s a milestone for me. And that counts.

But that’s still a few weeks away; I’m getting ahead of myself.

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