Hey guys, I don’t know if you’ve read that article that’s making it’s rounds that says that people who travel are only doing it because they have nothing better to contribute to society? I’m not linking it because it’s absolute crap and the point of it seems to be that time spent travelling could be better spent on “making a contribution to society” and saving money which are pretty abstract and maybe questionable beliefs. That said, I think that underneath that ridiculous article was a good but very poorly made point. We’ve all read or seen those articles and heard from our friends about the importance of travel about how your education isn’t complete until you live abroad. About how you can’t be open minded and how living a boring life (ie: one where you work a 9-5 job and I guess do normal good things like I don’t know, supporting your family and friends) is the worst fate possible. I have a huge, HUGE, issue with these articles for a lot of reasons.
First of all because travelling does not ensure open mindedness. I’ve met quite a few ignorant people travel and met another few open minded ones at home. Being a compassionate, thoughtful person is not contingent on travel. Secondly because travel, too, becomes mundane. I’ve lived abroad and sure there are those thrilling moments and fun adventures but they are as few and far between as when you’re at home. The truth is that if you’re living in another country you’re probably working and if you’re not working you’re not going on mad adventures daily, you live the same life you had at home. You grocery shop, you go for coffee, you find a restaurant that you frequent. Life can’t be an adventure all the time. Even if you are on one of those trips where you sold your house and now visit a different country every week, you will get tired and burnt out, you will cry, you will sit in a Starbucks and read all day because you can’t stand the thought of doing anything else. Thirdly because the most important thing in life is family and friends. Staying home and working and investing in these relationships is the most valuable thing you can do, travelling puts a massive strain on friendships and for some those are too important to lose. Plus living a “mundane” life is fun. If I look back at my life over the last decade, the happiest moments have been working and spending time with friends at after work drinks, silly runs to the shop, dinners with my family and so on. Lastly, and this comes back to the aforementioned article, when you travel you put your life on hold, it’s impossible not to, unless you already have a transportable career and for some this isn’t worth it. Having a career is something incredibly valuable and changing or starting a career later is not an easy feat despite what a lot of pinterest posts say. That said, if you are considering travel I would suggest asking yourselves these questions.
1.) Can I afford this? I mean, really afford it.
2.) Am I willing to put my career/education/friendships on hold for this trip?
3.) Will I be willing to go home if things don’t work out?
4.) Do I feel obligated by friends or society to take this trip?
5.)Is there secretly something I’d rather spend my money on?
What do you ask yourself before travel?