Why travel taught us to live a big life

how travel taught us to live a big life

A long time ago, someone gave me a piece of advice that I now hold close to my heart.

“Live a big life”.

I know it’s something I’ll one day whisper into the ears of my sleeping children, it’s the words I’ll get tattooed onto my body, so they can sink into my skin and slowly work there way into my bloodstream, like a drug.  Infiltrating my veins and my arteries, so those words become the life and oxygen that pumps my heart. I hope it’s the words they’ll say at my funeral.

“Live a big life.”

Although this was advice given to me and I took it on board, it wasn’t until I travelled that I really knew what it meant. Travel taught us how to live a big life and here’s why…

  1. Life is bigger than your home town. In a literal sense, travel taught us to live a big life because the world is such a huge place, (but it’s getting smaller). Travel teaches us to move beyond the realms of our comfort zone, travelling to places that don’t seem easy to get to or seem to be off the beaten track. Travel takes away from the small confines of our home town and walks us through new horizons and time zones.  Like a book, travel starts to open new pages and chapters, showing us new stories and bigger adventures.  Once you’ve opened that book, once you’ve seen just how many pages there are, it’s impossible to forget the words you’ve read.
  2. There is enough room for you to take up all the space you need. Travel provides us with perspective.  Whether it was the space you needed for introspection or the distance and panoramic zoom needed to see just how small you’d made yourself.  There is enough room in this world for you to take up all the space you need. For you to live the way you want to live. You can always live bigger. Dream bigger. Don’t settle.

3. The secret of living a big life is loving big.  Travel left me open. So when a stranger once offered to drive me and my stranded dog home from a service station south of Manchester, I said yes and got in the car.  Once you’ve seen the kindness of strangers on the other side of the world, strangers who have so much less than even what you’re carrying on your back, how can you not love more? Trust more?  Offer more kindness? The ripples of living big should build waves of love.  Travel teaches us that living big only matters if we take others with us.

4. Travel teaches us to live a big life because it shows us, it’s the small things that make life big. Like drinking a cold drink at a dusty bus station waiting for your next long journey to start, sat in the humid midday sun,  the condensation drips from the glass bottle, gravity pulling it to the table, pooling and melting, but keeping you cool.  Or that one sunset you know you’ll never forget. Even though the sunsets every day and millions of people around the world see the same sunset, it’s the realisation that you will never be in that place on that day ever again, and the fact that you noticed that sunset, that it’s a part of your travel memories, that’s huge. It’s a small event. But it’s huge.  The world is so big, we are such a small part but when you start to notice and be present, we can live bigger because everything becomes a gift.

Advice, like criticism, is a gift. You can keep it and treasure it, you can regift it, learn from it or throw it in the bin. I choose to learn from the advice given to me. What does it mean to live a big life? and how do you start? Where do you start? What if you can’t live big every day? What if living a big life is scary? Or what if it feels impossible where you are right now?

Well, the best bit about living a big life is that it starts small. Small steps in the direction you want to go. Like arriving a new travel destination, hesitant and excited – you just start where you are, with an open heart. Ready to love big and live big.


I love writing about all the different things travel has taught us. Here are some of the other posts I’ve written in this series:

Why travel teaches us how to say goodbye

Why travel teach us to keep our promises 

Why travel teach is to be afraid 

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