For a long time, one of my favourite parts of travelling was being cut off from the world back home, allowing me to be immersed in my travel bubble. Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures and adventures, seemed way more important than staying in touch with those I’d left behind in a different life. Wifi wasn’t even a priority for me, if it wasn’t working I didn’t mind and even if it was I wouldn’t always bother to connect. However, the longer I lived away from “home”, the older I’ve become and the more experiences I’ve gained – this has all changed.
This is no secret to anyone that knew me as a child, but when I was younger I was unbelievably clingy – my poor mother had to drag me around as I clung to her leg before work. This went on for longer than I’d like to admit – the clinginess not hanging onto my mum’s leg… My older sister could even make me cry just by making a show of hugging my mum. Thankfully, by my teens I’d more than grown out of this behaviour, but was still very much a home bird and shy until I really got to know you (I can hear the gasps of disbelief from people that know me now, but it’s all true!!) This genuinely didn’t change until I made it to university, and even then there were bumps in the road (or tearful phone calls home). The longer I was away the more I learnt that people enjoy my company and for some reason find me entertaining. I began to realise I didn’t need to wait to be myself and I could be independent, which is where the lapse in contact began…
I started to solo travel at 20, with my first trip being to Ethiopia – leaps and bounds from not being able to leave my mum’s leg! People would ask my parents if they were worried about me and whether I’d been in touch with them and how frequently, to which my parents answered no she’ll only get in touch if something is wrong – people honestly couldn’t and still can’t believe it’s the same person. I proved them right by only getting in touch when a delay made me miss my connecting flight or on another trip where my luggage was lost. By the time I was 21 and moved to India, I really didn’t feel the need to talk my family all that much. Looking back at it now, I realise this was my way of proving my independence, moving away from what I saw as my weakness and forgetting the person I was before my world opened up. But like I said, this changed over time.
I’d like to say I got better at being in touch because I missed them so much, but in reality it was a family emergency that shocked me into it. Sometimes, it takes almost losing something to make you realise how important it is. Since then, I regularly call my family – at least 3 times a week, mainly to talk to my niece (if you knew her you’d do the same). I’m beyond grateful for technology enabling me to live in both my ‘”home” world and my traveller world, I honestly don’t know how people managed before social media and video calls!? I haven’t seen my niece in over a year – just before her 1st birthday, and yet she knows who I am and even asks to talk to me!! When I left I was terrified she wouldn’t know or remember me, but like I’ve said in this day and age I can have the best of both worlds. Not only that, I’m also able to stay in regular contact with people I’ve met along the way – whether it’s childhood friends, people from university, my adoptive Indian family, travellers or colleagues from numerous jobs abroad.
By the time I reached Kampong Cham, Cambodia, I’ve become more reliable with staying in touch – and in a twist of events, even get moody when I’m not responded to. Working for GVI has made technology play an even more important role in my life, now I have the opportunity to have a positive and direct impact on people that need it most, without feeling like I’m neglecting the important people in my life. My short time working for the Cambodian GVI Hub has taught me a lot, everyday I’m excited to work (even though I don’t look it in the morning…), I love the feeling of knowing I’m working towards making a positive difference and love how I get to develop those that help us with our mission. I guess what I’m trying to say is, without having both worlds I might not have been able to grab this incredible experience with both hands! Technology can be a curse and overused, but if you use it correctly it’s a blessing and can even heighten your experiences – sharing your everyday adventures makes you realise how lucky (and more often than not, how ridiculous) you are. If in doubt, everyone is only a phone call away!
Even now, I openly admit I don’t miss my family. Sounds harsh but I don’t have any reminders of them in this world of mine, plus I get to see a lot of bickering over video call anyway – just like home!! I am able to see the world, embrace adventure and make a difference with my job at GVI, all whilst having the comforts of my childhood in my pocket. Technology allows me to; see people’s faces, hear their voices, communicate through memes, tag people at all times of the day or night, send ridiculous selfies to show people what they’re missing out on and get woken up by people forgetting the time difference! It may not be the perfect balance, as I still miss out on things that feel like a big deal, but I’m pretty close to having my cake and eating it too!!