I was a traveler long before I was a surfer. I can still recall the exact feeling I had boarding an international flight on my own for the very first time. There was a nervous anticipation making my palms sweat and my stomach lurch. And then there was the rush of adrenaline that hit once the plane touched down and suddenly I’d found myself an ocean away from everything I had ever known. I wasn’t aware at that time I’d spend the rest of my life chasing that sensation. An addiction just as visceral as any other, travel didn’t only become a part of my life, it became an integral piece of my very core.
Travel, just like anything else, has its pros and cons. When you’re high, you’re on top of the world. You’re conquering the unknown, thriving outside of your comfort zone, and stretching your horizons and boundaries further than you ever thought possible. But when you’re down, it’s a dark low. Isolated from everything familiar and secure, a foreigner amidst a population who belong, like a fish out of water, gasping for air, flopping helplessly on land. If you’ve traveled without the highs, you’ve not pushed yourself far enough, and the same can be said about the lows. You can’t go to a foreign place and not fully engage—that’s not travel. You have to open your mind and let go of every expectation in order to truly experience a place. If you insist on clinging to that which is similar or safe while abroad, you might as well stay home. If you choose comfort over authenticity the entire concept of travel loses its validity. You go all in, or you forfeit the true possibilities of the journey.