Why I Said Yes To Travel

Photo Credit: John Morin aka  The Wanderlust Pilgrim  | On location in Mt Maunganui

Photo Credit: John Morin aka The Wanderlust Pilgrim | On location in Mt Maunganui

I have left and moved back home
a total of four times in my adult life.

The first time I was 18 and moved to Wellington to study, and this latest stint I’m now in my mid-thirties. My parents’ home has always been a place where I reset, and each time I leave I’ve been in a good headspace.

I have a great sense of wanderlust in my blood, which luckily for me, my parents have always supported. Although they probably prefer that I didn’t do most of my travel alone. Not that I see myself as particularly anti-social, because travelling solo in my experience actually makes you more open to meeting new people.

Some people like two week vacations, in a warm, tropical location. Me? I travel because people and cultures fascinate me, and two weeks isn't enough to know what the locals know. I want to live there, not just visit. When I immerse myself in a different culture and language, the more connected I feel with my humanity. I see more of what makes us the same, instead of our differences. I also think it's a more fulfilling way to learn about the world around us.

...doing hard things doesn’t break us, it makes us better.

Solo travel, especially for a woman can seem daunting. I know it certainly was when I set out for my first adventure overseas in 2007. While many wanted to do their OE (overseas experience) in the UK, I wanted to reconnect with my Asian roots. Having lived in New Zealand since I was eight, it felt a part of my identity was missing and I needed to understand the culture from which I came. Also at 23 years old, I needed to re-learn my native tongue of Tagalog, which meant spending time in the Philippines with my family. Now that both my grandparents have passed away, I have a greater appreciation of that time with them.

Holidays are like a temporary escape, but travel for me has always been soul-enriching. I once read that conviction and comfort don’t live on the same block - meaning that if you want to make positive changes in your life, you’re going to have get uncomfortable. Travel does that for me. It makes me look at my life, the decisions I’ve made and the direction I’m heading away from where I’m most comfortable...my hometown.

I’m not saying all life changing experiences need to be in a foreign country, or be some grand spiritual experience. This is true for me, but it isn’t for everyone. When I travel it’s when I’m seeking answers to pieces of me.

There’s a lot I’m giving up to travel to South America next year - the studio family, friends and family, my dog, my job. If I listed all that I do right now, yeah I could scare myself into staying. Then again I don’t plan on leaving this town forever, something about Whakatane that always brings me back. Plus, I’ve registered for my old high school’s reunion in 2020. I just need to see the world and break out of my comfort zone for awhile. After all, I always tell my students that doing hard things doesn’t break us, it makes us better.

Ronna Grace Funtelar

A thirtyish storyteller, hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.