I was sitting in a bar in Daman, India, when it hit me: I’ve become completely accustomed to traveling.
The first few months were something of an initiation process. I’d never really been away from home before, and had never truly been on my own. Regardless of whether you work full time and have an apartment, the fact remains: When you are in your home city, you usually have a steady group of friends and/or family to fall back on. Whether it’s your relatives, your roommates, or even your co-workers, somebody is always there to bail you out.
There I was in some obscure Indian city, likely the only non-Indian person for miles (seriously, nobody spoke English, and everybody stared at me), and enjoying a drink with the local people. It was a stark contrast from Mumbai, a city full of tourists, modernity, and Western amenities. Although I love Mumbai, this bird had decided to fly. I was now off the tourist path, and back on the road.
I think that getting off the beaten track is an extremely important thing to do. The whole “backpacker” route is fun, but it doesn’t quite teach you independence. You usually stay at hostels full of other foreigners, have easy access to wi-fi, and can call on anybody for help. When you travel off the beaten path, it’s different. Sometimes, you will be the only foreigner in a city. Sometimes, you will not be able to talk with anyone, outside of non-verbal communication. Sometimes, you have to stay at the most shady-ass hotel on the face of the Earth. Sometimes, it can get lonely. But most of the time, it is an incredible, rewarding experience.
By getting off the tourist path, I had created my own path. Nobody could stop me, and nobody could help me. Whether I had dug my own grave, or jumped through the gates of Eden, this was the road I had chosen.
New situations take time to adjust to. I think until I had this realization, I had subconsciously relied upon returning home to a comfy bed, warm shower, and personal safety. Sure, it probably won’t be long until I see my family and friends again. However, I will never think about home the same way again. Even when I must take on a steady job, steady friends, and a steady living environment, I’ll always feel somewhat removed from the situation. True independence is doing exactly what it is that you want to do. No more will I live for other people; this is my life to with as I see fit. Deciding to travel was step in the right direction. Actually traveling and being on my own, has solidified the theory.
The motto of this website is “Home is Everywhere.” I have never believed that more than I do now. “Home” is all in my head. If I can be confident and happy in any environment, the world is my stomping grounds. When you learn to take your own path in life (not one that others put before you), everywhere becomes home. You become king or queen of your castle, and nothing can stand in your way.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write music and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.