Originally published by Anurag Verma, Co-founder of Trotter on Medium.
Growing up in Sydney in a loving, happy and an objectively normal family meant that I thought I had it all figured out by the time I hit high school.
Ace high school, ace university, and get a successful job.
So, after doing just that, and landing a successful job, I got an opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world.
Off I went to the UK.
I wanted to return in 12 months. To pick up where I left off. To get my new degree and return to what I thought I had all figured out.
But then, it all changed.
I left home and met people that were different from me. That didn’t grow up with me. That came from countries I didn’t know existed beyond their names I read on the world globe in my room.
And who had travelled.
Through their experiences I learned about things I had no idea about.
And then I travelled.
And I learnt about the world, its many wonders, its many flaws. I came to realise I grew up in an echo chamber — my views and experiences were those of my friends, and our combined echoes served only to strengthen what I thought I already knew. And the advent of social media only served to strengthen that echo chamber.
I wanted to break out of the chamber.
My first steps were tentative, safe — London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Barcelona, Prague. Then, I was in Moravia with friends from all around the world.
It was 2 April, my Dad’s birthday, and India had just won the cricket world cup (I’m obsessed with cricket, so of course I remember that date!). I was swilling Slivovitz. Yelling prost! Practicing my Czech. Trying new cuisines.
Then suddenly I was at a public house, drinking with locals, speaking the only mutual travel language — beer.
I was miles from any major town, and lightyears from the harbour view office I sat in 6 months ago.
I still remember walking back that night, my senses heightened by the Slivovitz, looking up at the clear night sky sprinkled with stars that I couldn’t have ever seen from my office, breathing in the crisp air, in a town whose name I still didn’t know.
It was my first travel moment.
I was hooked. I needed more.
So off I went.
Ionian Islands. Athens. Mykonos. Santorini. Lisbon. Cascais. Douro. Porto. Sintra. Florence. Rome. Milan. Bologna. Berlin. Munich. Paris. Champagne. Innsbruck. Split. Dubrovnik. Hvar. Mallorca. Menorca. Nice. Ibiza. Istanbul. Delhi. Rajasthan. Scottish Highlands. Isle of Skye. Marrakech. Reykjavik. New York. St Lucia. DC. Charleston. Georgia. Miami. Rio. Buzios. Iguazu. Buenos Aires. El Calafate. El Chalten. Mendoza. Santiago…
I met people. Shared experiences. Learnt about their lives, their journeys, their world.
I saw sunrises and sunsets.
Stood on shores lapped by every ocean.
Ate, drank, partied, laughed, danced, loved, lived, marvelled, wondered, learnt.
Grew. Changed. Travelled.
For me, travel is not just something you do when you have annual leave. When you need a break.
To travel is to live.
To appreciate the world around us, to meet people, to experience the thousands of cultures that make up humanity.
To go from one travel moment to the next.
Travel is to learn tolerance, to learn perspective, to appreciate that many moons have risen and fallen long before you came, and millions will rise after you’re gone.
Travel is to understand the world’s flaws, its complexities, and in that journey learn about your own.
Travel is about transformation.
It has changed my life. I hope it changes yours too.