Initially, when we travel, we have a desire to include as much as we can in our itineraries. We want to tick off all those amazing places that people rave about – Paris, Venice, London…
But then you arrive. And you wonder what you’re missing. You just don’t get the hype. Yes it was nice, and you had a good time, but you just don’t understand what is so incredible that others raved about it.
I know many people who love Paris. Rave about it, can’t wait to experience more. I hated it.
London for me was blah! But Venice, on the other hand, was like a wonderous, magical playground yet I know plenty of people who hate it.
After a while, you feel yourself being pulled back to countries and places, but you have a bucket list, and you are determined to tick off as much as you can, whenever you can.
But what if we are slowly travelling our way around this amazing planet of ours and not feeling the excitement everyone talks about? What if all the countries we have chosen are not what we hoped they would be?
What if we are travelling to the wrong places?
The same could be said for where we live.
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It was the Sea
For the majority of my life, I have lived within 10 minutes of the ocean in Wollongong, Australia.
But sometimes a summer would go by and I would realise that I yet again had not been to the beach. I mean the ocean was always there, whether I had breakfast at a favourite café on the beach, or walked along the harbour, the ocean was not very far away. And I loved watching a new day dawn with a beautiful sunrise over the ocean. (But then I love sunrise anywhere, it’s just the time of the day I love the most). But I hadn’t actually put on a pair of swimmers, taken a towel and gone to the beach.
Each time I moved away I always gravitated back, toward the ocean. Or so I thought. But I now realise that I was just coming back to the familiar. And those places I had moved to in inland Australia were just not for me.
Now it's the Mountains
Recently my partner and I moved to the Blue Mountains, Australia from the New South Wales South Coast. You might enjoy reading my post - We’re moving instead of Travelling.
I could see it in people’s faces, and hear it in their response when I told them we were moving to the Mountains. They were dumbfounded that we would move away from the sea.
It seems that everyone loves the ocean and would love to live close. It seems that most people have fond memories of holidays by the sea and feel a sense of freedom there and long to make it permanent.
It took me a long time to realise I didn’t feel the same. In times of turmoil, I would head to the beach. I guess because there didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go.
I would sit there for hours staring out to the horizon waiting for my feelings of turbulence to be washed away with the waves. I thought it would make me feel better, but it never did.
The ocean actually makes me feel lonely, with its vastness. I know the beauty it holds, I used to dive, and I like the sense of freedom that swimming in the ocean gives you, but it’s not something I crave.
It has taken me a long time to understand that.
And then I found the mountains. And then I understood what peace and freedom and belonging really meant. For me, the mountains called loudly. And I answered.
My Favourite Places
My partner, who is just as happy here in the mountains as I am, asked me the places that I have loved travelling to the most in the world – Cortona in Italy, Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland and Lake Bled in Slovenia.
I have enjoyed all my travel experiences but these places I would return to in a heartbeat, find myself a cottage and stay as long as I could.
My partner pointed out that they were all mountain regions. Who knew?! I thought I just loved Europe.
There are a number of reasons we choose the destinations we do.
Budget drives a lot of people, some destinations like Asia are more cost-effective than a lot of countries in Western Europe.
Maybe it's flight times. When you live in Australia it's a huge commitment to travel on average 24+ hours to Europe!
Some may have a particular interest or love of a country, lifestyle or people.
And others like to pursue activities like hiking or cycling or skiing.
And others like me don’t really know why we choose the destinations we do. Until now!
Personality versus Choices
And it seems that my personality now fits my home environment and my travelling choices.
A series of studies conducted by the University of Virginia found that although environment doesn’t change someone's personality, your personality can most certainly pull you towards the environment you feel most comfortable in.
Lead Researcher, Shige Oishi suggests, “That we should consider our personality when considering somewhere to live“.
And perhaps where we travel.
The studies show that the majority of participants felt that the ocean was a place for socialising and spending time with people which would seem more appealing to an extroverted personality, and the mountains a place of solitude, better for relaxation and thinking, therefore, you could correctly assume would be a drawcard for introverted personalities.
So according to the results of these studies, I am right where I should be! I am all about relaxation and solitude. I like to socialise but in small doses.
Not a surprise. I am a classic introvert!
Making Better Travelling Choices
By understanding who we are and what we are drawn to, may help to save ourselves time and money by choosing travel destinations that we are aligned with.
I have done the beach holidays in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Whitsundays. But for me, my time and money are better spent in the mountains or medieval hilltop towns in Italy!
Quite obviously we cannot change our personalities. But being aware means we can make better choices. And let’s face it, time is too precious to be wasted travelling to areas we think are OK, better to be wise and choose places that will make our hearts sing.
Ultimately to travel well, you should know yourself well. For me as an introvert, travelling with an organised group of people who I don’t know is not really my cup of tea, nor is a large group of extroverted friends. I’m not a fan of big cities (except New York), and I hate crowds.
I love the company of good friends, like-minded travellers who have the same interests and no problems with some downtime. I especially like traipsing around early morning, enjoying a coffee with the locals and enjoying the ambience of a village or town without the crush of tourists.
I love absorbing my surroundings gaining inspiration from amazing scenery. I never thought I was a nature girl, but turns out that I am.
Finally where I belong
I can’t believe the difference I feel living in the mountains.
I am happier, I am more relaxed, I get out into nature more, and I am more productive. Being near water is still important, I love the gurgling of mountain streams and could listen to them for hours. I love the freshness of the air and the clarity of the stars on nights that are darker than black. I thrive on watching the changing of seasons outside my window.
I am finally home.
It took me a very long time to work out which personality type I was and what that meant. I don’t know how many times I was called dull and boring, or that I was quiet (I’m not) and should speak up or why I hated going to those nightclubs in my youth. And why I found those “must see” destinations recommended by others far from inspiring.
Moving to the Mountains feels like the final piece of the puzzle to a perfect life. I ask myself all the time “Is it possible to feel this happy?”
Yes, my friends, it is. Now to go and book that trip to Scotland!!
Which destination are you drawn to the most? Maybe you have been travelling to the wrong places all along?
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.