As a child I would always have this weird urge that wouldn't let me stay still. I daydreamed all the time and pretended I was somewhere distant, going through the most incredible adventures. Today, I know that that restlessness has a name; it's called wanderlust… And my wanderlust has taken me far. At 27, I visited over 90 cities in 27 countries, and have been to four of the seven continents. But how did this happen?
Growing up in Portugal in the '90s meant that most our holidays would take place in the sunny beaches of Algarve or exploring the villages of the southwestern coast. And don't get me wrong, Portugal is amazing! But the world is so diverse and has so much to show us and teach us that this little paradise of the Atlantic just wasn't enough for me.
The thing is, in the “real world” you are supposed to follow a specific path. You’re supposed to study hard, get good grades, go to university, and get a job and a career, for life! And along the way you need to find the perfect match to go along the path with you… Nowadays’ society looks at you differently when you say your dream is to explore the world! And they will destroy your dream if you let them… But even though I have grown up with this real world influence, the young child that dreamed about being an explorer was just half asleep inside me.
A few years ago, while going through a rough patch in my life, I realized that at 24, I hadn’t actually achieved anything special. I felt empty inside and was losing my love for life and all its wonders… I realized that my heart would get excited whilst planning a new trip, when arriving to new places, when meeting new people and hearing their stories. My heart's desire was to land in an unknown land, to hear different languages and accents, to absorb the different smells and to get soaked in the wonders of the world.
So I went. I started small with some European cities, then over to road trips around some countries and, without noticing, I ended up alone backpacking in Southeast Asia for six months. Through the years, I fed my heart and soul with the beauties of the world. I learned not only about the places I visited, but also about the countries of the people I met along the way but mostly, I learned about myself and how far I could push myself.
Whilst traveling, you don't really notice it but the person you were when you first left home is not the same that will return one day. I used to think I would go and change the world, but then I realized that travelling was not about you changing the world, but about letting the world change you. It's about getting to know other cultures, embracing them, and above all accepting them!
Now, tell me, is there anything more wonderful than the whirlpool of feelings you get when you're about to arrive to a new place? Or the astonishing smile you have when facing a bustling street on the other side of the world? Or, even better, how much your eyes shine whilst telling some of your stories to your friends and family?
I urge you to go. I urge you to pursuit your true dreams, the ones you locked away in a drawer and left for another time. Today is the day that you have been waiting for to start living the life you want!