Leaving Pieces of Yourself Behind When Traveling

Somewhere, at sometime, someone once said something around the lines of, “When you travel, you leave bits and pieces of yourself behind.

This saying rings true with most travelers, and it has for me especially.

When I first began traveling less than 2 years ago, I had no clue what to expect. The world was my oyster now it seemed, but for my entire life it had been closed off. I had no clue if it would bear treasure, or leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Then, something spectacular happened. I took my first step. Just as magical as it is to see a baby make its first attempts at walking upright, so too it felt the same for me as I attempted to walk out into the world.

Even if traveling meant stumbling and falling on my face.

Leaving pieces of yourself behind when traveling- Ryan falling.
I held the key to the world, the first passport in my family, my passport.

Suddenly I was on a train across the United States, then I was on a plane to New Zealand. Like a babe taking its first steps, my hands were up in the air and forward momentum carried me along.

I didn’t want the adventure to stop.

Now it’s been a little under two years, and I am 3 countries in so far. Yeah, not a great amount right? Well, anything above one is a big deal for me.

First was New Zealand; that ravishing adventure land full of heart-pounding experiences. Then came Haiti; a mis-represented country hidden below a surface of disaster, and full of heart-wrenching discovery. And now
— now I am in Canada on a road trip, a country so close to “home” yet so different than I ever imagined.

Leaving pieces of yourself behind when traveling- Ryan photographing.
And in each of these countries I left a bit of myself behind. Where I leave these pieces behind, they may live in that area, or be carried away by someone which that memory was with. Attached to an experience, or a smile, or a feat, or a moment where time felt as if it was standing still.

Standing still just so I could know it was something to cherish.

After the turmoils of my childhood; my mother’s suicide and father’s passing, I felt for years that I didn’t have any more pieces to give. My life had been a pretty picture which had fallen off the wall and shattered into little bits.

Leaving pieces of yourself behind when traveling- Child crying as a child.

But travel is continuing to repair that picture. I don’t think it’ll ever be whole again, but at the same time it’ll never be as empty as those dark days not too long ago.

Sometimes, leaving pieces of yourself behind with the places you go and people you meet can be an emotional thing. A feeling like a potential love, friendship, or opportunity is being left behind. But I think of it as bread crumbs, a trail that can lead me back to that moment or place again.

Leaving pieces of yourself behind when traveling- Ryan as a child.

Even though every place I will go I will leave pieces of myself there, traveling always gives me something much more in return.


// Have you experienced this when traveling?



  1. Katie May 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Beautiful post. I think it’s not just about leaving pieces of yourself behind, but the lure of the idea of taking a piece of every place with you. Especially for those of us who don’t feel like we have a “home” – you’re collecting parts of homes along your way to create one unique for yourself. It’s not about a country count. It’s about exploration, discovery, and finding joy and meaning – not just in the world, but with yourself. It looks like you have a pretty great grasp of that concept.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Hey Katie, you are absolutely right. It becomes an addiction to travel, and to keep grabbing up pieces of every place you visit. I’ve learned that “home” now doesn’t mean a stationary place for me anymore, but more of the memories from everywhere I collect. Home is where I currently am, and I’m beginning to accept that even though it means never having a place of my own. And that has been the biggest thing for me, the self discovery and finding joy in a world that was so wrought with agony.

  2. Britany May 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Touching piece, Ryan. That feeling of leaving pieces of yourself behind sometimes strikes me as disjointing and a little heartbreaking. Especially when traveling alone, when there’s no one there to witness the bits and pieces you experience and can’t take with you. But that’s our legacy as travelers. The fleeting experiences and relationships we leave all over the world are our lasting footprints, and even though we can take them with us, its reassuring to think that we’re spreading them all over the place, the further we go!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Yes, I totally agree. Sometime it’s hard to see those pieces and memories drift away, but knowing that there is so much more to come makes it worth it.

  3. Keith May 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Very inspiring. I will be leaving myself behind in less than a month, I have no idea what to expect! I’m road tripping across the USA this summer toward the north west. I can’t wait to get started. Keep on chuckin man

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 1, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Thank you Keith, and congratulations on the trip! So stoked for you to start your own journey mate.

  4. Kristin Addis June 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I feel that way all the time. It’s more the people I have to say goodbye to that hurts more than anything else. I still haven’t figured out how to completely move on. It’s very hard to leave a piece behind and just leave it, not want to revisit, and appreciate it for what it was, when it was.

    A similar quote I posted on my fb a few months ago: she left pieces of her behind everywhere she went. It’s easier to feel the sunlight without them, she said.

    Sometimes it’s hard to move on and let the past be the part when it was such a sweet moment in time with the perfect person or people.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      I don’t know if we’ll ever figure out a way to cope easily with leaving things behind, especially the people and potential relationships. I really love that quote as well, and I think it’s so hard because travel makes us open and vulnerable, and makes connections with places and people amplified.

  5. RTWgirl June 5, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I do feel as though I leave bits of myself in some places. But sometimes it’s more of a shell of myself….like a layer of skin that has been pushed off by a new layer that’s ready to live.

    I hope that we can cross paths again…Every situation is so different but I find that when you have experienced loss, you somewhat get other people who have too. I lost 2 of the most important people in my life within the last 3.5 yrs (what prompted me to travel). My father is quite ill now and I have to head back home to Vancouver soon to see him.

    Kudos to you for taking those first steps. Take care Ryan….xoxo Arnette

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      That is so true, and A great way to look at it. A shell…never thought of it in that way. I hope to cross paths again as well Arnette, Tbex was a wild time. I really hope you father’s illness get better, and it is good you are headed back to spend some time with him.

      Thanks Arnette!

  6. TomarHawk Tom June 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Interesting post Ryan! I have felt like that before!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Good to know I’m not the only one, thanks Tom!

  7. Anita Mac June 17, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Wow – touching writing! Although, I have to say, I think it is as much about leaving pieces of yourself behind as it is about discovering pieces of you along the way! Your courage is inspiring – love that you are getting out and experiencing life, creating memories and friendships that will be held dear to your heart, no matter where in the world you end up!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author June 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you Anita, I think all travelers who whip up the courage are amazing. It is totally as much about discovering pieces of yourself along the way as well!


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