On travel and the joy of new beginnings

in Australia / Overland Travel / Personal Musings
australia on travel and the joy of new beginnings

Ryan turns the key in the ignition of our “Adventure Camper” and pulls out onto the long, straight, dusty road that leads to National Highway 94, on to Coolgardie, down to Norseman and across the 1,100 kilometer (684 mile) stretch of Nullarbor Plain.

Every Australian we’ve met has told us this is the longest, dullest stretch of nothingness we will ever regret driving across, but these off-putting descriptions have done little to dampen Ryan’s enthusiasm as he turns up the radio, bounces in the driver’s seat and accelerates towards the desert. You can see from the smirk on his face that his imagination is not dulled, but rather stimulated by the emptiness on the horizon.

There is a distinct feeling like none other when you start a new journey and a world of possibilities is laid out before you like a breadcrumb trail to your future, better self. Whether you are stepping on to the deck of a sailboat, getting behind the wheel of a camper van or standing in front of the departures board at a train station with a backpack and no itinerary, in those still moments before your journey is set in motion, you can almost see your future travel-worn self relishing in the experience of new and strange foods, sharing a beer with a wise old storyteller or taking in the sunrise from a mountaintop. And the motivation to move forward is never stronger than in those moments before a journey begins.

I think back to the many great journeys of my life so far and I feel incredibly fortunate that, 15 years after I first left the U.S. to teach English in Russia, I am still in love with that exhilarating feeling of moving towards the delicious unknown.

That feeling has pushed me onto the platforms of the Trans-Siberian railway, onto a ferry to Finland, into a Jeep driving through the Caucasus Mountains, to the deserts of the Middle East, to the cobbled streets of Spain and onto the colorful buses of South America. And with my English teaching certification in hand, I could get work wherever I went, ensuring my travels would never have to end.

Along the way, that meandering path I forged as I taught English around the world inspired me and Ryan to build Teaching House, now the largest CELTA teacher training school in the world, which has sent thousands of teachers abroad to do just what we’ve done. And, in turn, this inspired us to build IH New York and IH Boston, two English language schools that bring students from all over the world to learn English in the U.S. and experience life in New York and Boston.

So, what may have looked at the time like aimless travels into an unstable future, in fact, formed the very livelihood that allows me to continue doing what I love after all these years – traveling, teaching, writing and discovering new passions, whether it be sailing, surfing, ski racing, roller derby or racing across oceans in the Clipper Round the World Race.

And here I am now, sitting in the passenger seat of a camper van as it rolls towards the Outback, oddly excited to see tumbleweed blowing across a barren landscape. Because against the backdrop of the Australian bush, I can see what lies ahead is another journey, a new experience and an opportunity to grow.

That is the beauty of new beginnings: roads, oceans and train tracks are blank slates on which you can scribble your own route leading to an endless network of beautiful, unimaginable possibilities. The only thing you need to be sure of is the desire to take those first few steps. Knowing where those steps lead is not important, and there’s no point worrying about where you’ll end up because worrying will only slow you down.

As a wild kangaroo bounces alongside us on the road, Ryan shifts into gear, kicking up a cloud of dust as we pull away from Perth. We have no idea how long we will spend in Australia, or even where we want to go next. But none of that matters. We have the open road, our wild imagination and the experience to know that opportunities are created by those who go looking for them.

on travel in australia post-line-divide

What part of a new adventure do you love most? What is it about a journey that speaks to you?

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  • Janice Stringer January 29, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Hi Tasha,
    I love what you said here, ‘I am still in love with that exhilarating feeling of moving towards the delicious unknown.’
    How do I grasp that and hold onto it with both hands never to let go of that kind of joy. Moving towards the unknown for me causes anxiety and doubt – questioning and at times psychological misery (I’m such a joy – I know. Who wouldn’t want to know me!! 🙂 )
    I understand myself – my first outing into the unknown ended up in an awful sexual assault, but can I shake the bloody thing and look forward to not knowing what will happen next, 32 years on, not easily. I have lived a scared life because of this and wish I could live so freely. Something to definitely cherish. I know I do NOT like living in fear 🙂
    Janice Stringer recently posted…I Remember When…My Profile

    • Tasha January 29, 2014, 8:43 pm

      Hey Janice,

      Thank you for sharing something so personal to you. I had lots of emotions when I read your story and I want to say, first of all, not to be so hard on yourself. You endured a trauma and your reactions to that are normal.

      I did some research into the kind of fear you describe and though I don’t know you, I can see from your blog that you love and enjoy scuba diving (which, ironically, is something I have fears about), which shows that you know very well the feeling of joy in exploring… especially when it comes to the underwater world.

      I don’t know if this will resonate with you at all, but this is a really interesting post about how to embrace what the writer refers to as “joyfear” and it offers steps on how to mentally coach yourself past debilitating fears so you can become freer and more open to “joyfear”. Read this, and let me know if anything in it speaks to you: http://zenhabits.net/fear-to-free

      You’re not alone in your experiences, that’s for sure 🙂

      Tasha recently posted…On travel and the joy of new beginningsMy Profile

  • Sheri January 29, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Love this post! You summed up perfectly how I feel when starting a new adventure. So many beautiful things have happened in our travels because we didn’t make plans and just let things unfold. I hope to always have this feeling as well.

    • Tasha January 29, 2014, 8:58 pm

      Thanks, Sheri. I love what you said about letting things unfold. And I truly believe that you can keep that feeling of joy… it’s all a matter of perspective. And seeing the beauty in everything… even the stuff that goes wrong can be fun – it often leads to another adventure!

  • Anwar Abdullah@ Kaio February 1, 2014, 5:03 am

    hi! interesting blog and i admire the nomad lifestyle u have! good luck and all the best for MSMW 2014.
    Anwar Abdullah@ Kaio recently posted…Malaysia Social Media Week 2014 dan Undilah iLuvTourMy Profile

    • Tasha February 6, 2014, 5:05 am

      Thanks, Anwar! Looking forward to seeing the results!

  • Michel Guay February 3, 2014, 8:31 am

    Wishing you all the best to you and Ryan in your adventures in Aussie land. I love to read what you post.
    Just finishing up a 3 week break sailing the French Antilles, sitting in an apartment and wondering if the gas station strike will ever finish.

    • Tasha February 6, 2014, 5:07 am

      Hey Michael!
      Thanks so much for the compliment! The French Antilles sounds heavenly even if you are “stuck” 🙂 Hoping to get down there on Hideaway once we get back to her! Xx

  • Cheryl @ Mid-Life Cruising! February 19, 2014, 10:23 am

    Caught up on all your posts, and for now … traveling through ya’ll. Love your blog and this particular post really grabbed my attention! Not having plans or commitments and having the option to do whatever you choose is true freedom .. and success! Great post!
    Cheryl @ Mid-Life Cruising! recently posted…Kickin’ Off Boating Season, Mardi Gras and A Wedding!My Profile

    • Tasha February 20, 2014, 8:36 am

      Hey Cheryl! Thanks so much for the compliment. I have a feeling you’re a really easy-going traveler 😉

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