What calls us to explore the places outside our window? Why do we travel to open spaces in search of something beyond the everyday? We caught up with nomad and friend of Passenger Sarah-Jean about the importance of community, hazy coastal days and embracing places closer to home.
Words & Photos by Sarah-Jean
Both my parents travelled for work, so I think their stories instilled a lust for adventure within me from a young age. But really what spurred me to travel initially was the need for escape from my hometown. There is no better feeling than driving down open roads towards seemingly endless horizons, your home on wheels behind you, with the backseat full of stories of all the places and hearts you’ve touched along the way.
For a long time, I considered myself to be something of a nomad. It was this identity I’d adopted, and a running joke with people that knew me from home. You know, always coming and going, never staying in one place for long. And that’s true, in a way. But it doesn’t seem to fit anymore. What I’ve realised is community is a huge thing for me - feeling connected; a sense of belonging.
We’re all seeking that similar feeling, the one that isn’t well explained by words but if you know what I’m talking about, then you know. That unshakeable need to follow the voice saying “go”; the excited, glowing, expansive sensation deep within your stomach that flares up when you follow the call.
I think something that inspires the wanderers among us to roam to new places is in fact the longing to find somewhere we belong, and funnily enough I find a sense of belonging in knowing I’m not alone in that.
I definitely leave pieces of my heart in the places and people I meet along the road, and in a way that means I have ‘family’ outside of the blood I was born into dotted all over the planet. And that’s a beautiful feeling, really. One I consider myself so fortunate to know.
I’m unashamedly a sucker for that nostalgic yet hopeful kind of music, haha. And in a way, I feel like that’s what the essence of travelling is: the bittersweet nostalgia for all the adventures before, and the glowing hope for those to come. There’s a couple songs in particular that take me away to distant places, here’s a playlist of some of them:
I remember the day the Cribbar was breaking. I climbed down the rocks and spent the whole afternoon watching people drop in on waves I’d never seen on British coastlines. But one moment that stays with me is the night we found a secret cove somewhere near Bude completely by accident and spent the night parked up there.
Everything was engulfed in that late-autumn, amber glow that sunsets in Cornwall are famous for in October. We were sleepy from a day of sea air, driving aimlessly when we came across a narrow road that seemed to lead to nowhere... so we followed it.
Barely big enough for the van to fit along, we crept up the winding hill until it opened onto a clifftop, framed by heather hedgerow dropping off into the luminescent Atlantic that was glass-like, illuminated pink by the sinking sun. It felt like we’d reached the end of the earth. No cars, houses, or other life around us; just us, the van, and the ocean.
As the sun set before us, a half-moon rose behind the van against the lavender sky and I remember staring slack-jawed, in awe of the fact that this was, in fact, my life. And I’ll never forget that moment of realising I was living the very moments I’d been dreaming of for as long as I could remember.
The only photos I have of that night are blurry phone shots, and that’s something else I’ve learned. That even as a photographer, some moments don’t need to be captured; the ones that got away tend to make the best stories anyway, in my experience.
For the first time ever I’m drawn to embrace adventure closer to home. There’s talk of a trip to Slovenia with a friend of mine for some van life wandering once we’re able to get there. But for now, I’m excited by the thought of exploring my own territory with this new set of eyes. Scotland’s coast is calling... that’s for sure. But who knows... we’ll see where the road takes me.