Travelling to Find Yourself – Fully Feasible or Full of Shit?

Stoke’s two-cents on your journey of self-discovery…

Here at Stoke, we sometimes like to stroll down rain-wetted pavements, smelling the roses and twirling our thin moustaches, taking arty shots of garbage for our Instagram and philosophising over whether the world is a bountiful wonderland or the bleakest of the universe’s wastelands. We then like to go get cold-drips and sit pondering life’s big questions, one such question being Can you really “find yourself” travelling or is this concept a crock of shit?

You learn many things about yourself while travelling. You learn whether you’re the type of person who runs to catch the flight, sweating profusely underneath your 15kg backpack and fatty-middle-deposits, laugh-crying hysterically as the boarding gate staff smile knowingly at you, you lucky devil, or the kind of person who declares We’re going to miss it, throws their bag down on the airport tiles and sulks. You learn how good humoured you really are when the nine-hour bus you booked turns out to be a dilapidated mini-van full of chickens. You learn how much of a cunt you truly are based on how you speak to wait and hotel staff in foreign countries (particularly developing ones). You learn whether LSD agrees with you or sends you into an abyss of spider shadows and lion-headed men with long tongues. You learn whether you can out-run half-tonne, horned death-machines (v. handy). You learn whether you’re the kind of person who is one bad come-down/hangover/pick-pocketing experience away from booking a flight home. These self-discoveries are, for better or worse, illuminating, but would we say they are identity defining?

Many people espouse the cliché that travelling changes you, and admittedly people do tend to come home a little different from their first big jaunt abroad. Some come home less entitled. Some more globally minded. Some more tanned. Some more pretentious thanks to an imagined worldliness which sees them spew stories beginning with When I was in… at anyone who will listen for as long as they will listen. Some simply fatter. And we all know someone who left home clean-cut and relatively straighty-180 and returned with long hair, a backpack full of patterned tights and rainbow fanny-packs and a new found penchant for pingers and ketamine. Did these people discover their true identities, or simply discover drugs a little later than everyone else, and a little more enthusiastically thanks to the absence of societal ties (e.g. job, family members to disappoint, friends to embarrass) in foreign places? Are notches on the belt and brain-cells put to rest a reliable measure of self-satisfaction? The answer is no, you lost little lamb chop.

Travelling is certainly character building, and we recommend it to everyone (except people who are rude to staff in foreign countries, particularly developing ones). But if you leave home miserable and without a sense of self, don’t expect to find fulfilment in the bottom of a used condom or in the verbal and/or physical pecking-order pissing contests that sadly begin almost any time a group of strangers with backpacks are thrust together circumstantially. You might develop a greater appreciation for your hometown or clarify in your mind exactly why you left, you might find greater freedom of expression away from the expectations of your church group/mum/dad/employer/cunty-SO-who-you-have-realised-needs-dumping-asap, you might open your eyes to what the human condition looks like for the majority of the world’s population and stop harping on about your first-world problems quite so much, and this is all great. Just don’t pin all your hopes of self-salvation on that plane ticket, or you’ll be one bad come-down away from booking a flight home again, where all your old challenges await you.     

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