I had been thinking of what I wanted to share with you in this week’s personal post and was having a hard time deciding until something lovely popped into my mind and made me smile. Lately, I’ve been going through a lot of old photos of my family and my childhood, as well as lots of travel photos and memories from the last 8 years. Seeing all these things has been a great way to reflect on everything that has happened and the huge changes from where I was and the path I was on to where I am now and where I’m headed.
The motivator for all the changes I’ve made is travel, the ability to go somewhere new and experience a new place and culture. It’s strange to think one thing can be so defining, but it’s also really cool to know what the one thing you really enjoy is and be able to put so much time and energy into it. All the changes and adjustments made to my life have been to make it easier to travel.
But why is travel important? Why does it matter so much and what does it mean to me? I have friends who are really happy having not travelled, they take holidays within the country at Christmas time or weekend getaways nearby and they have a great time. They’re really happy with their lives and tend to give Matt and I weird looks when we tell them about our travel plans and think we’re a little bit odd for wanting to spend all our money on it. That’s cool though, everybody is different and likes different things. I give them weird looks when they tell me about the upgrades their doing to their house or the new car they’re buying, so we’re kinda even.
Some of my favourite travel photos are images of people taken from behind them, where they’re hanging off the front of a boat and there’s a beautiful stretch of ocean in front of them. I love photos of people standing on the edge of a mountain or in the middle of a big field, with nothing but space ahead of them. Whenever I see those photos I feel something in my body and my heart start to stir and I really want to be standing in the same spot as that person or sitting on that boat with them.
I love the feeling of moving forward and having nothing in front of you to stop you. It’s a feeling of total freedom, where you can close your eyes and enjoy the way the breeze feels on your face, knowing you can keep moving forward and nothing will get in your way. Where you can take a deep breath in and enjoy that moment with nowhere to be and nothing to do, just to be totally free and completely present to that moment. To stand there and think, “This is why I’m alive, this why I’m here.” In those moments I feel like my true self, with no distractions around me I can really feel my own heart and soul.
It makes me feel ill to think of being tied down to one spot or unable to leave whenever I want to. I don’t like to be restrained or held back, confined or unable to go where I want to go, when I want to go there. Travel is the ultimate freedom, it gives you a feeling like the whole world is there for you to access and there are all these wonderful people, beautiful places and incredible experiences just waiting for you. It’s never-ending too, there’s never a point where you’ll be sitting in your house thinking, “Well, I’ve seen absolutely everywhere on this planet… what now?”
The other day I found my first ever real travel photo. I was about 14 and was in Cambodia with my parents, who had given me a disposable camera to use. Walking through Phnom Penh my mum and I saw this beautiful little girl, around the same age as I was, sitting in the shade of a small statue. She had her hands clasp together and was looking down at them lovingly. We stopped and I motioned to her, asking her what she had in her hands. She looked up and smiled proudly, opening her hands to show us a tiny bird cheeping away happy and healthy.
I asked her if I could take her photo and she said yes, smiling comfortably and easily. She wasn’t using the bird to make money or trying to scam anyone, she was just a girl sitting in the grass enjoying a really happy moment with this little bird she loved so much and in that moment I knew exactly how she felt. I don’t know how, but the photo turned out really well and the mental image of it has stuck with me forever. Seeing it again made me remember why I travel and the beautiful moments you experience when you connect with someone else, even if you can’t speak the same language you can always communicate with them and share something with them.
When Matt and I talk about memories they’re usually to do with travel. It’s rare we would bring up a memory to do with something we bought or something we owned, it’s usually always to do with a time and a place, somewhere we loved or someone we met. When we talk about our plans for the future they’re usually always about travel and where we want to go, what we want to see and experience next. How can we capture it and share it best? What can we do to bring other people with us and inspire them to have an adventure too? That’s the part where Little Grey Box comes into it, which is why we love working on it so much.
If you haven’t read it, I’ve written before about how our gap year changed our lives. It didn’t just change our lives, it defined us too and made it really clear that we needed to be doing more of the one thing we loved most; travelling.
We used to be the people who were on the path to being settled. We talked about the house, the furniture, the comforts, the cars and the kids. We spoke at length about all of that and that’s the life we were building until we realised we weren’t being honest with ourselves and we changed all of it. As I’ve said before in these posts, it’s never too late to make a change and you’ve never missed your opportunity. Just be honest with yourself and listen to the answer your heart gives you.
Looking back at the path we were on it’s like looking back at strangers. How did we get to that point? What were we doing? Why did that happen? I guess we were doing what we thought we were supposed to be doing and what seemed to be right, based on what everyone else usually does. It’s easy to fall into that rhythm and that cycle and for some people, that really is what they want and it makes them happy. But for others, it doesn’t
This intuitive living journey has been about overcoming what my head told me I should be doing. I was letting my head drown out what my heart was telling me I really wanted to do which is stand in open fields and on the edge of cliffs and feel endless.
No matter what happens with our future I know there will never be a point where Matt and I will look back and regret not having taken a chance to follow our hearts and live a life that is our own. We started this journey together a long time ago and we’re in the middle of the biggest part of it right now. People may look at us and say, “they’re giving up everything for travel! That’s crazy!” But, really, ‘everything’ doesn’t matter if you’re not happy, so we aren’t sacrificing anything at all…
I have the photo of the beautiful Cambodian girl stuck up right in front of my desk now and I look at it every day. Every time I see her I remember how important it is to find simple, pure love and happiness in this world. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how many things you own, all that matters is you can smile from within your heart, knowing you have experienced something you love.
Watch: our ’48 Hours in Bundaberg, Australia’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.