Do Travels Change Us?

I just read Ruína y Leveza , from Rio Grande do Sul writer Julia Dantas. I had no expectations, but I loved it! The book is narrated by Sara, a young publicist who, in a moment of professional and loving uncertainty, decides to travel alone for the first time. She buys a ticket from Porto Alegre to the farthest destination that her money can afford and so ends up landing in Lima. At the stop in Buenos Aires she meets the Argentine Lucho, who becomes her traveling companion.

This is just the beginning, but my intention here is not to talk much about the book. I really wanted to record some thoughts that kept popping into my head during this reading. I think almost all readers of Viaggiando would like Ruína y Leveza , after all, it’s a travel book! Sara leaves without a very defined script but ends up making a backpack for Peru and Bolivia. Those who do not know these countries will be curious about the descriptions of the places. Those you know will love to revisit them. I myself missed Bolivia and Lake Titicaca myself and was dying to redo this trip.

More than knowing interesting places, this backpack Sara also makes a journey of self-knowledge. This theme is not new. It is almost unanimous the view that no one returns the same from a trip. This transformation is certainly stronger when traveling alone or over a longer period but is not unique to those who take a gap year.

I always travel with Eduardo and for no more than 30 days in a row, but I’m sure our travels change us a little at a time. My most iconic change for sure was becoming a vegetarian during a trip. Precisely on such a trip to Bolivia and Peru! But there are so many other habits that I know I acquired in my travels around the world!

This business of me just traveling without dispatch, for example, is not isolated. It was traveling that I realized I don’t need much to live with. If during travel I could be fine with a few items, why at home did I need to surround myself with excess clothes, shoes and accessories? Minimalism in travels eventually became ingrained at other times in my life.

Traveling I also got rid of many conventions. One thing I love about vacationing is spending days without looking in the mirror or even caring about it. We give a lot of value to looks, but in travel I realized how relative fashion and beauty are, and that has brought me enormous freedom. Today I don’t care about dressing like the others or having clean nails and hair. If on vacation I go to slipper restaurants, why here I worry about high heels?

I am also aware that travel has changed the way I see the world. It would be impossible to be immune to countries like Cambodia, Armenia and Cuba or to a place in Brazil so different from my reality as Mamirauá. These are just a few examples of places and peoples that have marked me, but I know that a little bit of me changes with every vacation I take.

Without the trips I have made in the last 10 years, would I eat meat today, be more consumeristic and vainer and have less empathy for others? Maybe yes. At the same time, I do not agree with that talk that “Life is a book and those who do not travel read only the first page” – is it from Saint Augustine? I do not think it is mandatory to buy international tickets to review concepts. As far as I know, passport stamps are not certified at all, but what I do know is my story, the path I am treading, and I know that much of what I believe today is the fruit of my travels. And also from the books I read, of course!

Books and travel are my great passions, so Project 198 Books, which somehow unites the two, is so special to me. Today I would be someone else if I had not fallen in love with the world, both what I know through the pages of books and what I can see with my own eyes. Without travel my priorities would be different and, consequently, my life too. Maybe it would take me longer to get to where I am. Maybe my way would be another. Who can say?