Being a full-time runaway can be exhausting to say the least. We’re always hopping from town to town and from country to country. We’re always living life in different languages, currencies, cultures, and climates. Constantly connecting with people and places is an amazing way to live, but I can’t help but feel that every time I leave a place, I’m leaving behind a wake of long lost friends, short-term lovers, and often family. It’s enough to make even the most stoic of nomads think about hanging up their backpack for good and putting down roots.
So why do we do it?
well, we’ve all got our reasons. My personal reasons for traveling probably stem from my feeling have that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, somewhere in the world, I’m missing out on an awesome party. Of course there is the constant, narcissistic need for acceptance, but I’ll leave that diagnosis for my shrink.
Really, I travel because I hate missing a good party – and for now, that works for me.
But why do you travel? Where does your passion for travel and cultural exchange stem from? How do you justify a life on the road? I decided to put this question to some of my nomadic compatriots and fellow travel writers. Here’s what they had to say.
I travel because that old saying about needing a vacation after a vacation doesn’t pertain to me! Traveling energizes me and gives me back the spark that gets beaten down by “normal” life. I’ve been a writer and editor for as long as I can remember, and getting out there and learning new things gets my creativity going. I need a certain amount of excitement in my life, excitement that is reignited the second I get on a plane headed somewhere new. When I’m on the road, I have more energy than I can dream of at home. I want to do everything, see everything, meet everyone… It’s where I’m at my best.
When I lost my job in 2008, the world looked bleak. I had no idea how I was going to survive. The only thing that saved me was travel. I took short, month-long trips to Europe, Mexico and Borneo before finally being able to head to Central America for a year. I got back my self-confidence and zest for life. I finally felt that I could fight for my dream job again, and then it arrived in an almost cinematic way. Putting that faith and energy into the universe for me comes only by heading out into the world and seeing how huge this earth really is. When I get too emotional about something, I often tell myself, “Abby, it’s not all about you.” Really, take yourself out of it! Traveling is the embodiment of that. It makes you see and experience that obvious but hard-to-comprehend idea that no matter what is going on, it’s not all about you. There is always an answer to your problem, but sometimes you have to travel to find it. At least I do!
Abby Tegnelia is the proprietor of TheJunglePrincess.com, a blog that has detailed her journey from being an American expat in Costa Rica to becoming the editor in chief of Vegas Magazine.
The Man on the Lam
When Justin enlisted me to put together a few words about why I travel, I thought to myself, well this one’s a no-brainer — it’ll be a snap to come up with a reason or two. And that’s the thing — there are so many reasons that concentrating on just one or two is proving a wee bit more daunting than anticipated. But in order to promote the cause and garner new recruits, I pledge to give it that good old college try.
Reason one for me would be the sense of adventure. Into the unknown and out of your comfort zone all at the same time. We tend to lose a lot of our inhibitions while traveling, and engage in activities we would normally deem unthinkable or even unsavory back home. Like sharing rooms with strangers perhaps. Or let’s say, hitchhiking. The first time I hitchhiked was in Jordan. Most buses in Jordan take the Desert Highway, and not the more scenic and interesting King’s Highway. After finding a like-minded Dutchman, we decided to give it a go and take the scenic route. We ended up getting rides from (in no particular order): a Syrian Orthodox priest, a trucker with a 5-year old named Saddam Hussein, and a active member of the Jordanian Armed Forces who liked to wave his gun about. Each one had their own story and each one left a lasting impression. And we were able to see some spectacular scenery along the way. How often does that happen in your hometown?
Reason two would be the sense of belonging. I know what you’re thinking — why would you leave behind everything in order to fit in? The thing is, a lot of people do it. For folks afflicted with the travel bug, the road offers an extensive community of like-minded nomads. Talk to some of your friends or family back home about diving in South Africa, or hiking a volcano in Guatemala, and see how quickly the conversation turns to their new washer and dryer combo, or what the kids did in daycare this week. The concept of long-term travel is so foreign that it does not compute. They need to retreat to domains that they are more comfortable with. Like Costco. Or that strip mall around the corner. Travel affords you a ready-made network of people who are just like you. Instead of feeling like an imposter in your cubicle-shaped kennel, you can feel emancipated in the possibilities that lay ahead.
So there you have it. Travel for the senses. Sense of adventure and sense of belonging. Whatever your own reasons for travel, I wish you the best where ever your road takes you. And that you come to your senses.
Raymond is the Man on the Lam, a world traveler and blogger who serves up travel advice with plenty of wit, wordplay, and sarcastic humor at ManOnTheLam.blogspot.com
Like many, I began my traveling career after college where I found myself in Europe. I had gone with my sister and my best friend, and we had a fantastic time taking in the sights and partying. It was all well and good, but it wasn’t anything particularly life changing. A couple of years later, I embarked on my first solo trip around the world, the kind where you live out of a small bag for several months, planning where to go depending on who you met and how you were feeling that day. I fell utterly in love with the countries I visited, but moreso with the lifestyle of solo travel. Flying by the seat of your pants, spending your days as you wish, with your biggest worries being what to eat and when to take a nap in that hammock outside your bungalow. You are truly living life.
I don’t consider travel to be a luxury, nor do I look at it as vacation. Just like starting a new job, or moving to a new city is a life event, so is travel. It’s another step one takes in life, well, more like a left turn. You begin as yourself and come out the other end a bit scruffier but a better person, with new friends, ideas, opinions. And that’s the thing, travel changes you. Being taken out of the safe zone of routine and familiar faces gives you the power of objectivity. Its amazing how quickly one is get some perspective on your life. Problems that confused you suddenly become clear. In life sometimes you get stuck in certain ideas and ways of thinking that are put in place by the people you know and the life you live. But when that’s all stripped away and all that’s left is you and your bag, one is able to grow in ways you wouldn’t believe. There’s an identity that we all grow up building and perfecting, but when you go to a place where no one knows who you are or where you’re from, that rigid identity that you have spent so long molding, suddenly becomes incredibly malleable. You can change your opinions without a fear of losing that identity. There’s no one there to point their finger at you and say that that’s now who you are. You are who you want to be, which can change moment to moment. It’s a beautiful thing. That is what changes you – you. And that is why I travel.
Sheila Ahmadi is a designer and world traveler – you can check some of her work here BrickWithLight.com
I travel for a few reasons. I have this itch that I always have to be on the road. It doesn’t matter if it’s lugging thousands of pounds of magazines and sweating away at college campuses around the U.S. or just relaxing on a beach in Australia. It’s all about being on the road and the hidden adventures that happen when you are out of your element.
I also like travel because it helps me look at my life from the outside looking in. I was a shy, introvert when I took my first trip to Europe when I just turned 20. And not there is anything wrong with being a loner, but I learned quickly that sitting in a hotel room alone just wasn’t fun but being in a hostel and meeting new people and then doing that with locals was a lot more fun. So it helped me when I came home to the U.S. And each trip after that just taught me something new about myself. That’s why I travel.
Eric Tiettmeyer is the Publisher of Student Traveler Magazine. He has traveled around the world and his magazine is a major voice in the student and youth travel market.
My great-grandparents tended to be stingy on the gifts they gave. It was not unusual for someone to open a disposable camera with batteries and film or a manual pencil sharpener and a few pencils. It became a contest to see who got the “best” gift. My uncle took the prize one year with a glove full of popcorn. It’s not that money was an issue for them, it’s just the way things were done. Although we may have gawked and laughed at our presents, deep down we all knew they had given us each a far greater gift.
After my great-grandfather retired from Kodak, he and my great-grandmother traveled the world. They spent most of the year traveling abroad and would come home to share their stories with the younger generations. We would all thrive on their stories wishing we could tag along.
When we came of age, my great-grandparents did either one of two things; they shipped us to boarding school or military school or they sent us on a trip overseas. My uncle was sent to Europe on a backpacking trip, my mom was sent to explore Mayan ruins in Mexico, my aunt was granted a trip to our native Scotland and I was given money to go to France and Spain with my school.
At the time, I was only 16 and when they helped pay for me to go to Paris and Madrid with six classmates and one of my teachers. It was my first overseas trip without my parents and I loved the independence. I soaked up as much art, architecture and history as I did beer, wine and vodka. I learned more about myself in that 1 week than I had in my 3 years of high school. I learned I was independent, self-sufficient, brave, a damn good drinker and an excellent navigator.
After that trip, I didn’t care how cheesy my gifts from them were, because they had given me the greatest gift of all; they opened my eyes to the world.
Elle Swim is a global bucket-lister who has already checked quite a few things off her list. She’s met a president, swam with sharks, and traveled extensively. Check out her blog at http://elleswim.wordpress.com
1. The awakening
First, it starts with a mind-numbing boredom that seeps into your life like an insidious toxin, until one day you realize you’re sitting in front of the TV watching 45 minute-long infomercials about Ab-Blasters and Flowbees. “What is the point of life?” You hear yourself say out loud. This is the dawn of your awakening; the first niggle of dissatisfaction and an early symptom of the travel bug.
2. The unavoidable discontent
You go to work and the traffic seems thicker and more aggressive than usual. You’re so over this road, these cars, this weather. You notice the faces of other commuters: tired, dazed, absent. “What’s wrong with these people?” you wonder, but then you catch sight of your own face in the mirror and it’s just as pale and dead as all the others.
3. The inspiration
Somebody at your work announces they’re quitting. “I’m going to live in London for a year,” she says, her cheeks flushing with excitement. “Fuck you,” you say quietly under your breath while smiling and congratulating her…
Torre DeRoche is the Fearful Traveler – she writes about travel in a refreshingly honest voice, hilariously detailing her adventures around the world, “one terrified step at a time.” This is just a snippet or Torre’s full article – you can read the whole thing on her blog here – Seven Steps To Escaping The Gray Cube
My folks divorced when I was very young, so we never had the traditional “family” summer vacations, mine were spent going to Seattle to visit my Father, then back Arizona for school with my Mother. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I experienced my first real “vacation” to a real destination. In my early 20s I was dating a woman who had traveled the world and would tell me all kinds of stories about her adventures and the people she’d met along the way…I was always enthralled. Our first trip together was to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We rode horses on the beach, sailed down the coast to a remote cove where a boat met us and took us horseback riding up into the mountains where a lush waterfall oasis greeted us with delight. We explored the entire area, going off the beaten path, talking with locals, and experiencing the cuisine. Needless to say, before this trip had concluded, we had already begun planning our next adventure.
Since that first trip so very long ago, I have traveled to over 20 countries and 100s of cities along the way. I have learned such a great deal about life, and about myself along the way. Travel is a great educator…different, but equal to that of college. I almost think universities should make doing a semester abroad, mandatory! Travel helps round out a person by showing them different societies, ways of life, viewpoints, culture, food, geography, history…the list goes on and on. I find travel to be nourishment for the soul.
I travel because I yearn for adventure and knowledge. I love to see new things, get new perspectives, go places few will ever see. Travel will test you, it will challenge you, it will excite you! Travel for me is what life is all about…there are different forks in the road, which one are you going to take? I enjoy travel so much that I figured out a way to integrate it into my everyday life…I publish MikesRoadTrip.com, Where Travel Intersects Reality. While I’m not making a “living” with Mike’s Road Trip yet, I’m lucky to have a skill set that allows me to work remotely—I offer web development and online marketing services, which helps subsidize my Mike’s Road Trip endeavors.
Mike Shubic is a perpetual road-tripper and marketing guru who has traveled all over Europe, South East Asia, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. He is currently on an endless road trip across America, and you can follow him at www.MikesRoadTrip.com
As someone who has opted to not lead what many may call a “traditional lifestyle”, I’m frequently asked the reason for why I travel so much. Aside from the obvious benefits of experiencing new cultures, languages, and historic wonders of the world, I believe that the greatest reason for travel that stands out in my mind is that those who travel simply have better stories to tell.
As human beings we all have a finite time here on this earth, and I feel that it is how we choose to fill that time that ultimately matters the most. Had I never made the conscious choice to swap security for spontaneity and head out on the open road, I never would have had the opportunity to share tea with Moroccan carpet merchants, stand atop the highest peak in Borneo, ride horses through the foothills of Patagonia, or watch the sunset from a kayak on the shores of a remote Greek island.
I travel because I love waking up and knowing that each and every day is pregnant with possibility. Sure, I may not have the secure benefits of something like–say–a matching 401k, but what keeps me moving is the ability to place my finger on a world map and remember the crazy night, adventure, or story that came out of that dot on the globe. Through my writing and my travels I aim to inspire others to go out and make their own stories, and to realize that without fail, the best time to travel is now.
Kyle is a writer, surfer, and world traveler. He’s a humble, insightful, and interesting guy with a passion for travel and good story telling – check him out at www.kylethevagabond.com.
I’m all about exploring and experimenting with new places and cultures. Traveling helps me grow in many ways, be it on a cultural, personal, or social level. One of my most eye opening experiences was while visiting the concentration camps and Hitler’s Bunker in Poland. Going to these places presented a reality to me that otherwise I wouldn’t have never understood so clearly or cared about so deeply.
I also travel to challenge myself and to seek adventure; like when I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – one of the most challenging tasks I’ve done, both physically and mentally.
There are tons of reasons why people should travel. The world is full of wonders and it’s worth taking our time to marvel at them. Also, interacting with other cultures helps us understand them and gives us a relative perspective of foreign lifestyles.
People should always be open to expand their horizons and to reinterpret the world. There’s more to see than just our little corner of the world.
Norbert Figueroa is an architect by trade, but after a life-changing trip to Thailand in 2008, He started www.Globotreks.com as a way to share his stories of world travel and of becoming location independent.