Travel Far, Return Free

Photographer Freya Dowson’s musings of a life enriched with travel.

A guest post by Freya Dowson 

I’ve spent half my life on the road. Moving countries, cities, houses, never staying anywhere longer than two or three years. Travel is in my bones, it’s my heart’s compulsion and it’s what I was born to do. The thrill of exploring or adventure is part of it, sure, but mostly it’s blending in, it’s watching another way of life, and it’s freeing my heart from its everyday troubles to allow it to reach out and touch another kind of life, another place and time.

Back in my everyday London life I have a commute just like everyone else, I have responsibilities and burnout is just the way of things here. You don’t mention it because it’s nothing new. I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones though, my job as a photographer takes me around the world and so while I have to do my time in the office and on the bus like everyone else, I also get to escape a lot.

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Looking back, even though it hasn’t always felt like it, I think life truly does bring you what you need. Because I was born to it, life has always brought me the freedom of travel, but the more I have been sent to distant locations, the more I’ve noticed how they have changed me. Travel is teaching me ways of living and thinking I haven’t been able to learn on other paths in my life and it’s growing me up into a better person with each flight and each new discovery.

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Strappy Back Bra, FP One Water Color Sabine Romper

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But I sometimes feel life has taught me too many harsh lessons, and I’ve been hurt in ways I don’t understand how to recover from. I’ve developed a hatred of not knowing how things are going to end, of not being able to prepare myself for the outcome. A life on the road gently breaks that down though, and in the therapeutic day to day of the practicalities of travel I learn to let go of that kind of control. Being on a road trip far away from home and not having the comfort of knowing where I’m going to sleep that night or how long it will take to get to where I’m going, it takes introspection and general nameless fear out of the picture. Through travel your grip is gently loosened, and as the wind blows through the window and your mind is thinking ahead, you learn to leave a lot behind.

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And there are always things that we leave behind that later on we pick up again, when we’re ready to sort through them or when they need to be remembered. Sitting in a field somewhere warm with nothing but the sound of crickets and the occasional firefly floating past, I’m reminded of a long time ago when I was young and in a similar place and it brought such a wave of comfort and familiarity that I had forgotten. I’m often amazed by how familiar feelings of connection, love and empathy can be found in people and places so far removed from me, and yet when I arrive it all feels so familiar. I have found little pieces of what home means to me all around the world, in places I have never been before and people I have barely just met.

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Travel has also taught me how to feel comfortable in my own skin. Hot weather and the knowledge that I know nobody in a place helps me overcome my insecurities and reveal parts of myself I have always been reluctant to. The knowledge that no one is looking at me, and if they are it’s probably because I’m a stranger in their city, makes me more comfortable with not feeling like my body should look a certain way or else should be covered up. I can look like me, the person I was never brave enough to be, I can wear the clothes that used to embarrass me, all because the knowledge that no one is looking at me with a critical eye has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin. Back home that lesson lingers, and I worry less about how I look to others and more about how I need to look to make myself feel good.

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Life on the road teaches me how to take care of myself. It has taught me how to look back when memory calls me to, and move forward when I know it’s necessary that I leave things behind. It’s taught me how to find quiet in a crowd, and love in any culture that is so different from my own – and I have learned that each one is so much the same when it comes to love and caring.

Traveling to see the world has always been part of it, but more than that it feels like I am traveling for my own freedom. I need the unfamiliarity of places to catch me off guard, to pry me open and help me find what needs healing or bringing out. And each time I return home that freedom stays with me more and more, until it is etched in my bones with each moment I have captured along the way.

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Follow along with Freya on her Instagram  and check out more of her travel photography here 

Comments

  1. Beautifully put Freya. A lot of what you write really resonates with me, especially the part about blending in and quietly watching another way of life. Your photos are gorgeous too!

  2. This was an amazing read, thank you. Travel really can change and make you a stronger person. I love your photographs too, you’ve captured the light so beautifully in these! Can’t wait to see more on your Insta. X

  3. SO beautiful.. I love the colours, I love the way they transport me and I feel like I want to fly over right now and live in that gorgeous little cottage! If nothing else, I’m definitely making it my screensaver. The first pic with your strappy top is epic. Love it! Want it! And the words…wow, it’s like you looked into my soul! As someone with itchy feet, I’m also always on the move and feel least lonely in a foreign place surrounded by so-called strangers.

  4. Your story makes me want to travel, explore new cultures and learn new things. Really inspirational! Thank you for sharing.

  5. These photos are gorgeous! I totally agree; at home I am tired all the time and anxious and want to know how everything is going to turn out, but travel creates the same uncertainties, but with less control of the outcome and you just have to let go. Love this post!

  6. Wonderful post, the words and images go so beautifully together. I feel at my most peaceful when I’m travelling too, although I don’t get to do it very often and never to very far flung places. So interesting to read about how travel impacts you, and how your two lives mesh together. The London commute and the travelling photographer. Inspiring read!

  7. So dreamy, and so true. I’ve always known that travel makes me feel better about life overall, but you’ve managed to distil this in such a beautiful way. I wish I was sat next to the lake in that bottom picture right now!

  8. Very thoughtful, and those photos are beautiful. Would love to know more of the stories behind the photos and the countries you’ve been to. Thanks!

  9. Love the raw energy in this post – it’s beautifully written :). Would love to know more about your job as a photographer! How did you get into it? Are you a freelancer or do you work for a specific company? I’ve just had a look at your Instagram feed (which is amazing!!) but would to know more about how you promote your work online :)

  10. Beautiful, as Freya’s words and photography always are. I’ve been following her for a long time now and she’s continuously an inspiration.

  11. Seriously the most beautiful set of photos I’ve seen in a long time. Freya’s photos are always so dreamy on Instagram, and this story is so inspiring. Absolutely stunning!

  12. Absolutely beautiful post! Thank you for sharing some intimate details about why you travel, you are incredibly insightful. I this. Very inspiring!

  13. Beautiful pictures and words <3
    Someone told me today that the way to stop getting old is to make sure you don't get caught in a routine in your day to day to life. That the randomness and variability of each day is what keeps you young and happy. Hearing that and then reading this today; it's obviously a message I needed to hear!
    I often think that when I travel and reflect back on my "London bubble" is when I make the most proactive changes to my life.
    Thanks for sharing x

  14. Stunning photos Freya!! As to the words… Completely agree! I have moved over 20 times– including time in Toronto, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Tallahassee, Clearwater and Sarasota. Every move helps me learn more about myself. The uncomfortable and new have become my comfort zone.

    Maybe it is because i was born to a multicultural family, with roots in Guyana, and Americas Midwest, but having a more global view has always been important to me. I’m most looking forward to expanding my horizons with my upcoming trip to Peru!! Hoping to understand a culture different from my own and get a glimpse of another lifestyle.

    More of my musings: http://www.seaandink.com

    Warmth & light,
    Sabrina

  15. That’s awesome post, I could barely feel the nature by saw the picture and read the words.

    An honest beautiful written, it makes me want to set my foot into the far place and never been.
    So lovely Freya Dowson.

    I’m affectionately yours,

    Dini

  16. These words truly spoke to me. I left home to study abroad in London last fall. From there I traveled to countless countries. Now I am always on the look for cheap flight tickets, pinning future travels on pinterest, and dreaming about seeing a new place for the first time. I have realized that I was not meant to be in one place for a long period of time. Thank you for your lovely post <3

    Sincerely yours,
    Lucy
    http://www.kaliforniakissing.com

  17. So wise and true words, so wonderfully written, I wish I would have come up with them myself <3 Continue your impressive way of life, girl!

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