On Travel and Matters of the Heart

Let’s get a little personal today.

Let's be adventurers

I spent the past week in Toronto to attend the Navigate Media BlogHouse and my first-ever TBEX conference. I’ll definitely be writing about these more in depth, but for now, I’ll just say that I learned a ton and it’s going to take me a while to process everything.

What I really want to talk about is what being there to attend these things meant to me–personally. For a long time I’ve struggled with my desire to travel. I’ve tried to reconcile a life in which I work full-time, have relationships, have a home base (AKA, be “normal”) and a life in which I want nothing more than to go go go and see everything in the whole world. I have often felt misunderstood and have hated trying to explain my desire to travel. It’s strange to me that some people just don’t get it, when travel feels so innate to me.

Travel is such a visceral and emotional thing to me, and while most people assume that I’m running away from something, I feel like I’m running to something. I am happiest when I am traveling. Even with all the bullshit things that happen while you’re traveling–having things stolen, being sexually harassed, feeling confused, lost, lonely, whatever–it’s still when I’m happiest.

this heart of mine was meant to travel this world

In September of last year, I ended a four-year relationship with somebody that I once thought I’d marry. Part of the reason was because things just weren’t great. But an even bigger part was because my desire to move out of the US and to travel was stronger than my love (and I realize how horrible that sounds now that it’s written down). I continued to live with him as his roommate until the beginning of May (as in last month), and while we weren’t together, I still relied heavily on him for a lot of things. For the four years that I was with him, I became pretty codependent–something that I recognized and hated, but couldn’t change. I’m telling you this because over the past few months, I’ve struggled to regain some semblance of the independence that I once held so dear.

When you travel with a partner for a few years, it’s easy to let them take the reigns. Toronto was my first real solo trip since that breakup. (I say real because I’ve traveled alone to other locations, but always with the intention of meeting up with friends or family–and while I knew I’d meet people on this trip, they were people I didn’t have established friendships with.) So in Toronto, I learned to find my footing again–How do I get around? How do I eat alone in a restaurant without feeling weird? How do I step out of my comfort zone to not only talk to, but relate to others? What I found was that it was much easier and a lot less scary than I’d expected.

sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith

Not only did I learn to feel comfortable with my independence again, but I got to meet so many amazing people. I can’t even describe how incredible it was to meet bloggers that I’ve admired and followed for years; to meet in person the people I’ve corresponded with on Twitter and Facebook for a year or so; and generally, to meet like-minded people. I didn’t once have to tell someone why I wanted to travel. Or why a particular place was appealing to me–because they already got it.

There were 1300 people at TBEX this year. That’s huge–1300 people who love travel as much as (or more than) I do! And it’s such an awesome community of people.

All of this is to basically say that I feel great. I feel re-energized and got the affirmation that I needed to feel like I am “normal”. I don’t need to fit someone else’s prescribed role of what my life should be. I feel like I’ve made the right decisions to set me on the path in life that I’m going to be happiest with, and that’s what matters to me most.

All images found on Pinterest.

51 thoughts on “On Travel and Matters of the Heart

  1. Great post, Megan.

    It’s a big deal to come to such important decisions and change isn’t without it’s difficulties but I’m happy that you are finding your footing once again.
    Jay recently posted..Santorini SunsetsMy Profile

  2. I’m so glad your experience at TBEX was meaningful and that you are finding your footing as a independent person again. Life and travel and all that goes with it is a mixed ball of wax sometimes. At least we learn about ourselves as we go.

  3. Megan,
    I don’t think it’s selfish or horrible at all to say your love of travel was stronger than your love of the guy. To me, it’s about a basic lifestyle and value. Just like money, religion, children, etc…these are all big parts of life, and for any couple those values and philosophies need to match up at least somewhat, I feel personally, in order to make a successful long-term partnership. A strong personal need and desire to see the world is like that. I don’t think it’s trivial or selfish at all to not be able to sustain a relationship with someone who doesn’t share that value. Doesn’t make either of you right or wrong, just maybe not altogether right for each other. And it just means you know yourself well and value your own needs too. I can relate. Kudos for sharing.
    Shelley Seale recently posted..Getting Stoned with SavagesMy Profile

    • Thanks, Shelley! It took me a long time to come to that realization, I think, because in the beginning he seemed as eager about travel as I did, and as time went on, his desire to go diminished and mine grew. Doesn’t make for a successful relationship! But I’m happy to have grown from all of it. :)

      Again, thank you for your kind words!

    • Yeah, I’m with you, CeCe–something great happens when you travel solo. It’s strange but empowering to only rely on yourself.

    • Thanks, JR! I haven’t done many of them because they make me a bit nervous! But I’ve gotten a great response, so it seems that people like it!

      And you should check out TBEX if you get a chance!

  4. Wow! You managed to still be roommates? That’s impressive! I’m glad you took the incredibly difficult step to create a life that you truly want. I once had a boyfriend whom I asked early on, “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?!” He had never really thought about it before… should have been a red flag. ;)
    Jill recently posted..Underwater Wild WadiMy Profile

    • Impressive isn’t the right word. ;) Stupid is closer to what it really was.

      It’s funny how we don’t allow ourselves to see those red flags sometimes, even when we know that it means compromise for us later on down the road.

  5. I hope you realise just how brave you are!

    My husband and I are constantly trying to reach compromises, so that I can explore new places and he can have the security he needs of a home and a job.

    Reading your post has just confirmed my thoughts that I have become far too dependent on him for my travels and it is time to get out there and explore some things on my own.

    Thank you for writing this post and sharing your thoughts – you are an inspiration xx
    Michelle recently posted..Church of St Nicholas, PragueMy Profile

  6. Megan it was so great to meet and spend time with you at Bloghouse and TBEX. For me the best part of the whole experience was meeting people who shared the same passion for travel that I do. Getting support online for travel is great (and it’s definitely helped me), but it’s nice meeting people in person who won’t see the idea of travel as completely insane or unachievable. I found going to local couchsurfing meetups was a great way to learn about and feel supported in the travel community as well.
    Alouise recently posted..Wolseley, Saskatchewan – A Reason To Get Off The HighwayMy Profile

    • It was great hanging out with you, too, Alouise! It’s always so wonderful to hang out with like-minded people. :) And thanks for the tip about couchsurfing meetups!

  7. I’m glad you had fun at #TBEX. Love the way you described travel as “I feel like I’m running to something” – it’s true, we’re not running away “from” something but rather “to” something wonderful. The world is ready for you to explore it :)
    Aggy recently posted..Planning an Awesome SummerMy Profile

  8. I can’t imagine trying to be roommates after your relationship ended. I’m glad you were able to move out for your own sake. As far as TBEX goes, the ability to talk about travel with other people who really ‘get it’ was a big theme throughout the weekend. So nice not to have people look at you like you’ve lost your mind because you like to go places other than the Jersey shore! Congrats on a successful first solo trip. Onward and upward!
    Laura recently posted..Friday Postcard: The Stupas of Kathmandu, NepalMy Profile

    • Thanks! It strangely didn’t feel weird at the beginning, but when he decided to start dating again, it was time to go.

      And yeah, I know what you mean! As if the Jersey shore is an exotic locale. ;)

  9. Yes! While I don’t have a boy holding me back, I completely agree with everything you said. I, too, am at my happiest when I’m traveling. I don’t want to have a “stable” lifestyle with a full-time job and marriage, I want to run towards everything in the world.
    Sky recently posted..Sky is (still) a Big Scaredy CatMy Profile

  10. Megan! What a heartwarming post. SO glad to hear what a great experience you had with us at Bloghouse and in Toronto. Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts here. Sounds like you are on the right track! It’s so true….when I travel solo and meet other travelers, it’s easy. We already have that foundation, that basis in common of being open and loving travel…so friendships form easy and get deep quick! Hope to see you soon!

    • Thank you, Lisa! Talking to you at the opening party helped a lot too, just hearing how your friends/family dealt with all of it.

      Hope I’ll be seeing you soon, too! :)

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  12. It’s great that you made the right decision. Conferences like TBEX and TBU are so inspiring. I love meeting other travellers with the same passion for travel.

    • Thank you! And you’re right–they are a great source of inspiration. It’s wonderful to surround yourself with like-minded people. :)

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