How do I know that all travelers are secret adrenaline junkies? Because I’m one too.
Most mornings I get up, get on my bike and ride to Language school. Pretty normal right? Well I’d like to tell you that I’ve never really done road biking before. And no one wears helmets in Berlin. The first time I had to bike to school by myself I was so nervous that I couldn’t tell if the sweat was the exercise or because I was totally sh*tting myself the whole time.
You think the cars are scary? You should try being yelled at by other cyclists in German.
I walked into my language class, the majority of whom seemed to be already friends (I was joining at level A2.2). I’d barely spoken German since my last language class 3 months ago. I had to introduce myself in German. I felt like I was back in high school again… and I was the new kid in class. After a week of doing this (and homework!) I was thinking to myself on my bike ride home, “Why do I do this to myself?”. I could get the train to class. Or I could do an online course. Then I realised, while sometimes it can be horrifying, challenging yourself and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is both incredibly rewarding and a total adrenaline injection. And I’m totally addicted.
I guess my addiction started when…
I watched my first horror movie and realised that I enjoyed the feeling of getting scared, in the same way someone would enjoy going upside down on a roller coaster. Or that I never grew out of my obsession with dressing up or my love for Halloween over any other holiday. When I used to feel stuck or bored with my life, I’d often feel the urge to do something “crazy”. At the time I was so young that I thought running through a graveyard was enough. As I got older, that itch got harder and harder to scratch (I also blame the rubbish quality of scary movies these days). I wanted something to change, so I tried dying my hair, getting more piercings, even skydiving…
Then I discovered travel.
If you’ve read my other blog posts, you know that I often get insane amounts of butterflies in the lead up to taking a trip somewhere. It is a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement that you may get in a line to your favourite ride. The feeling of a plane taking off and the pit of your stomach lifting as the plane rises gives me a natural high. But the real adrenaline comes in when you’re out the other side of the airport. You’re in a completely new place, you don’t know the area, the people or maybe even the language.
It’s an incredible challenge for the brain and the most alive I’ve ever felt in my life.
I purposefully lose myself in new cities, following my nose around interesting corners and discovering things off the beaten track. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a phone that works overseas, you have to trust your intuition to find your way back to your accommodation… or (god forbid) try to use a paper map or ask an actual person (not Siri) for help.
Back in 2014, I lost my phone in the first week of a 5 week trip.
It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Instead of constantly trawling the streets for a cafe with free WiFi like most of my other TopDeck tour buddies, I explored the city, took photos on a (shock horror) digital camera and met new people. Back then Snapchat didn’t even exist. Crazy right? I encourage everyone to put their phones down when they are on holiday. If you find this hard, try a sailing tour like Medsailors, there’s no reception when you’re out in the middle of the ocean! Scientists have even started doing studies into “Social Media breaks” and it is good for your brain!
They say familiarity breeds contempt – and they are certainly right in my case.
Eventually doing short trips once a year was not enough for me. Moving overseas was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Then I decided to challenge myself even more. I moved to a country where I could barely speak the local language. When simple things like ordering lunch, my daily commute and homework turned into a heart racing activity, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. Of course, the more you practice doing new things the better you get – and my morning bike ride isn’t (so) terrifying anymore. I even managed to pick up my package from the post office last week using only German. I wonder if it’s time for another hair colour, piercing or tattoo? Alternatively – book a flight. It’s much more parent-friendly.
Confess – are you an adrenaline junkie too? What gets your heart pumping? Let us know in the comments!