I reached into my bag, diving armpit deep into the backpack I’d packed ten days earlier. My hand fished around the ratty clothes and half empty sunscreen bottles. I came out empty handed, realizing I must already be wearing my last clean shirt. I shrugged, tied my ocean-washed hair into a bun and headed upstairs for dinner.
There does come a point in travelling, or at least there should, that you free yourself from the mascara, high heels and pretty dresses of it all; or for you men, the shaving, shampooing and cologne of it all. I think it’s important if you love travelling enough to do it with a purpose beyond simply holidaying, that you let the focus fall solely onto your experiences.
I planned my trip to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador with the intention of avoiding glamour. I basically packed 2 or 3 of every essential items of clothing with the intention of either rinsing it quickly in the sink or living on the grungy side for a few days and the truth of the matter is; I felt so free. I’d wake up right before breakfast, grab the cleanest shirt in my backpack and hope for an ocean excursion to clean my hair. I stopped worrying about how pretty the photos of me would turn out and started concerning myself with actually experiencing the incredible place I was visiting.
But it wasn’t just good for my soul. It was a great break for my body! Travelling was easy with only the light backpack. I’ll never forget what it was like lugging a suitcase through the cobblestone streets of Italy. I can promise you that having a tire fall off your suitcase and having to lug it 15 blocks and up 4 flights of stairs in your hostel is just not worth it. It was at that point I would have been fine throwing my hair straightener out the window and continuing on only with the clothes on my back.
“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.”
This is one of my favourite travel quotes; a quote by Paul Theroux, world-renowned author and travel writer and I can promise you that the only way retrospect can make travel glamorous is if you actually experience travel. I can assure you, no matter how much “retrospect” you have; spending your afternoon searching Italy for a suitcase is never going to be glamorous. And the same goes for wasting hours doing your hair and makeup to look perfect, while missing out on valuable time in a country.
Like I said, I encourage you to travel without the restraints of glamour at least once in your life. I’m certainly not saying every trip you take should be like this. But I will tell you that the freedom from cosmetics and high fashion is becoming my new favourite way to explore.
Take my time in Australia. In one of my previous articles I spoke of my time in rural New South Wales, working on a farm. This experience also goes to prove Theroux’s quote as, at the time, I tried to quit every day for the first month. The bugs, the hard work, the sun burn and sweat – for a city girl like me it was a lot to handle.
With that being said, looking back on my experiences on the farm, I have only the fondest memories of overcoming obstacles and of vibrant sunrises. I think of the long dusty lanes and the immense freedom to let the mind wander and unwind. Thinking back now, it seems like the best detox for the soul even though I was completely out of my comfort zone. But it goes beyond just the challenge of travel that made it so important to me. It was the fact that we were completely free and natural. It wasn’t about makeup and of blow dryers and a new outfit for every day and that is the point I am trying to make. Sometimes it’s important to forget about Instagram worthy hats and let your soul wander a little because that is where the true glamour really will come from, rather than a photo of you sipping a cappuccino in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Again, there is nothing wrong with your hair straighteners, your fancy shoes and your makeup, but I can promise you that when you are travelling, you can be more than that. You may be amazed with what you can experience with all the free time, and what you can see when you stop worrying about your perfect selfie.
Travel is a powerful experience. It gives you the ability to step out of your box and witness a world that continues to turn in its own unique way, oblivious to your existence. Travel gives each adventurer their own unique story and if you take just one moment to focus your attention on travel, to forget about the societal constraints of vanity, it is then you will experience true glamour.
Emily Meyer is still relatively new to the wonderful city of Medicine Hat, having moved here in May 2016. She was born and raised in Ontario and lived in Australia for a year and a half. Emily has visited 33 countries and will share some of her experiences and advice for globetrotters of all ages.