Date a girl (or boy) who travels…

Firstly, THANK YOU to all who read my last blog responding to an absurd assumption that I mustn’t have a life or personality since I got married before the age of 23. I really appreciated the conversations that were generated about this, and want to point out that yes, I do get irony and I am a very sarcastic person so I did resonate with some of the article, but wanted to make a few things clear about the points I completely disagreed with. This is how I feel about another article doing the rounds at the moment.

I’m excited by the many blogs, news articles and photo essays continually popping up on my newsfeed. There seems to be a lot out there hitting a nerve or striking a chord with my network of friends and family, and this blog was no different. You might’ve seen it, read it or skimmed it, but incase you haven’t, read it here before I begin: “Don’t date a girl who travels”. (And boys, bear with me… there’s three reasons to date a boy who travels at the end of my blog!)

There was a lot I resonated with in this article – it painted a beautiful picture of a careless wanderer skipping around the world and experiencing the best life has to offer.   

Teaching at a school in Vanuatu, November 2008

Teaching at a school in Vanuatu, November 2008

So let me be clear; I am all for travel.

I suffer from a severe case of wanderlust (n. a very irresistible impulse to travel) and have sourced numerous creative ways to fund my addiction (thank you university!) But I hate when being carefree becomes the epitome of recklessness and selfishness. When a girl who travels mustn’t be able to hold down a job, finish a university degree or a long-term relationship. Traveling is a luxury and a  privilege  that brings both joy and challenge. I have learnt some of my hardest lessons being away from home, but also had the most deeply moving and inspiring experiences. Travelling has made me largely who I am. It’s given me a greater perspective on the size of our world and a deeper understanding of the connections that bond us together as humanity. It’s created a fire in my belly as I’ve witnessed injustice and inequality, it’s brought out my weaknesses and shortcomings.  Travelling has given me an insatiable desire to explore the planet till I’m not longer physically able. And this is exactly why you should date a girl who travels.

Date a girl who travels because she works hard so she can enjoy the world that much more.

“But she doesn’t work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer and challenges you to do the same.”

It frustrates me when work is made out to be a brain-draining, soul-sucking chunk of your life that limits your opportunity and doesn’t challenge you! If you’re in a job that isn’t challenging you, please start job hunting now. Sure, you may not be roaming the streets of Italy or eating your way through America, but the challenge of work prepares you for the challenge of travel. Work has taught me to be flexible yet prepared and determined yet accommodating. Travel never goes the way you’ve planned, requires dealing with a myriad of human personalities and demands a few street smarts. The workplace is where you’ll learn all of this first.  By spending my year working hard and allowing myself to grow through the challenges my work presents, I am able to enjoy my travel experiences that much more.

Secondly, study a degree that allows you to travel, or better still, find a university that values travel!  I squeezed as much travel into my uni degree as a I could, and with the help of scholarships and grants (which, shock horror, required some effort to apply for), I was able to see so much of the world whilst excelling at my course. My travel made for excellent assignment topics and even sometimes gave way to extensions on deadlines because my lecturers believed in the world being my classroom (thank you!) Don’t throw away your degree to travel. Use your travel to fully appreciate your degree and the world it’s about to open up to you.

With my friend Nehemiah in Nepal, November 2011

“Don’t date a girl who travels as she tends to speak her mind. She knows respect, but isn’t afraid to hold a debate about global issues or social responsibility.”

I totally agree with this idea, and this is exactly why you should date a girl who learns to speak her mind from travelling. Encourage her passion, ask questions and debate her philosophies. Don’t be afraid to debate her about global issues or social responsibility, your mind will be richer for doing so.

Don’t discourage her pursuit of learning or tell her to man-up when she is saddened by the inequalities of our world. Join her in her travels and become a voice for the voiceless too.

Date a girl who travels because she thrives on company and shared experiences.

“She will never need you… She is too independent and won’t care whether you travel with her or not.”

I do care whether you travel with me or not. And I need you. I need you to see what I’ve seen so we can discuss the ways we can right the wrongs we’ve seen. I want your eyes to be opened as mine have been opened, your mind to be richer as mine has been made richer, and your passions to flourish as mine have exploded. I travelled to Nepal two years ago without my husband and as soon as I returned all I could talk about was how much I wanted to experience it all over again with him. I can be independent, but I want to process my thoughts, and be affirmed in the lessons I learn by you. We returned home from Nepal three weeks ago. It brings me such joy that he gets my crazy love for Nepali people, my desire to serve this country and my addiction to Nepalese food, and it’s allowed us to process our thoughts together.

Date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of certainty.

Look Mum, no hands! In Ghana, July 2010

Look Mum, no hands! In Ghana, July 2010

“Don’t date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of uncertainty.”

With every certainty I can say I will continue to travel, to learn languages and be amazed by the beauty of our world until I am no longer physically able. And still then I will read books, absorb knowledge and continue learning everything I can about our world from the armchair of a nursing home. Our lives may take us through highs and lows, different jobs and various life achievements but I hope that travel will feature throughout this. I have a mortgage that comes with a very permanent address… but I’ll take responsibility to pay for this whilst I adventure around the world.

Girls, don’t be afraid to hold down a job, to finish that degree and to invest in a long-term relationship, but find creative ways to weave travel throughout the rest of your life. Whether you find a job that allows you to explore the world, take six months to go on exchange or date a boy who travels. I’ve gone so far to even marry a boy who travels and here’s three reasons I’m so glad I did:

Date a boy who travels because they grow a heart for the poor in our world and become relentless advocates for your rights as a woman.

Perhaps this isn’t every boy, but you’ll be surprised at how even the least sensitive boy will be broken and moved by the things he witnesses when he travels. I’ve been all over the developing world with my husband… to Ghana, to East Timor and to Nepal to name a few countries and it has been the biggest privilege to be there beside him as he’s felt burdened by the need and spurred into action once returning home. Most of all, I’ve been proud and encouraged as I’ve watched him engage in the rights of women in these countries, and observed him understand just how important the role of girls and women are in reversing the cycle of poverty. It’s made him an advocate for my pursuit of further education and learning, and a wonderful sidekick as we explore ways we can make poverty history for good, together.

Navin teaching Pi in Ghana, July 2010

Navin teaching Pi in Ghana, July 2010

Date a boy who travels because he will be a life-long learner.

Something about travel summons a burning desire to learn more and understand deeply. Whether through reading, watching films or just talking together, travel has made my husband into a life-long learner. Even at home, he’s always looking at ways to further his current skills and passions so one day we can live overseas and use these talents. Even after finishing his post-graduate accounting degree last December (after 19 straight years of study from Kindergarten) he said to me, “You know, I think I’ll look for my next thing to study now!” (Whilst I’m just here needing a break from the stress of watching him study for such gruelling exams!!!) It’s something I never want to discourage and something I hope to do with him, whether learning a language, or understanding a foreign culture more deeply, I am so grateful for his limitless desire to learn.

Date a boy who travels because you’ll never have an argument about where your hard-earned savings should go.

Being married to an accountant means there are a lot of conversations about our finances. And ladies, I’m afraid to say I don’t think men will ever understand our need to continually buy new clothes (hey, if I could wear the same suit every day at work, I would!) Yet the best thing about dating a boy who travels is he’ll understand your need to travel and will prioritise budgeting for it too. Yes, it may mean less new dresses and a car that seems to be falling apart as you drive it, but it does mean a travel allocation will feature in every annual budget and one way or another you’ll find yourselves together exploring a new part of the world again.

Local home-stay in Cambodia, January 2013

Local home-stay in Cambodia, January 2013

A quote that rings so true to me is from the great J.R.R Tolkien “Not all who wander are lost.” Don’t let travel make you careless, reckless or selfish. You aren’t lost, you’re learning.

Are you dating a boy or girl who travels? Has travelling imparted something within them that you are grateful for? What is it? 

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