As we prepare to leave our comfortable everyday lives behind and head off into the unknown, it’s good to remind ourselves exactly why we are doing this. We get asked a lot about our motivation and what makes us want to travel, so thought we’d each write some words from our own point of view (without discussing with each other) about why we travel.
It is not easy to leave the routine of work, friends, family or colleagues, or the simple and easy life we have. Our most difficult challenges on a weekly basis are doing the shopping or looking after the garden. When you travel there are sacrifices – you are further away from home, from friends, from familiar places, food and people. Saying goodbye is never easy, even if you are going away on the greatest trip ever.
So why do we travel? The usual answer I would probably give is that I want to see the world and not just see it on TV or read about it.
I have heard it said that people either travel to find themselves or to run away from something. This is probably true for me too, although I don’t travel to find myself exactly, but more to be able to be myself. When you are in a working environment or even in a community you feel pressured to fit in or to conform to social expectations. Travelling is not rebelling against this, but when you are in an environment that is so different to that which you are used to then you might as well be yourself as you will never be able to easily fit into the community or surroundings you are in.
I also think travelling makes me more aware of my surroundings. Often many people never appreciate what is in their own area as they are so caught up in their daily routine. When on holiday they appreciate the smallest of things and people feel more alive.
When you travel you also meet so many people from different cultures. You can talk about and explore differences, but then as you get to know people you ultimately realise that we are all the same. We have the same needs, the same dreams, aspirations and wishes, and it’s a wonderful thing to discover and makes the world feel much smaller and easier to get around.
Those who know me know I’m not writing this blog to make everyone who isn’t able to travel jealous! It’s to give people who are unable to travel for any reason the chance to experience places and experiences through someone else, as well as inspiring others to do the same. Sorry if it infuriates those who are looking at the window at another downpour…
To go traveling is not an easy decision. It is scary, but it is also invigorating.
Why do we travel? … The same reason we do anything at all. To pass the time.
Of course, the time would pass anyway, but given all the options of how to spend it, choosing to travel works for us. It’s not as meaningful as saving the world, but once you’ve been there, done that and got a bit tired, it can be a good way to refresh, to have new experiences, and to remind yourself you’re alive without jamming a fork into your eyeballs.
People travel for all sorts of reasons. To take a break, recharge batteries, escape, have new experiences, see new places, break out of the everyday, find something that’s missing, or to find themselves. Sometimes people travel for a few days or weeks to take a holiday, and sometimes people travel as a way of life.
So why are Shane and I travelling? We know we have a limited amount of time in the world, and we want to make the most of it. The time will pass whether we sit at home all day watching daytime TV, slave away to reach the dizzy heights of a high-flying career, or seek out new experiences, new cultures and new people. We want to learn more about what it is to be human, about planet Earth, about ourselves, and about each other. We are newly married and want to spend as much time together as we can. We want to challenge ourselves, and to focus on what really matters.
For the last three years I have been working at Coventry City Council as a Programme Manager in the Public Health department. My work has focused on trying to reduce health inequalities in Coventry, which is something I’m passionate about. I do want to use my time to do some good in the world, and helping to make the world a better place is important to me. But it isn’t easy, and the old days of long-term job security, a linear career and a comfortable retirement are long gone for those of us born after 1980. Shane and I might not live to 70 or 75 or whenever our retirement age might be, and we don’t want to wait until we’re that old to enjoy life.
There isn’t one way to pass the time or to live life. Working long hours to pay for an expensive house which you never live in (because you’re working long hours), or to make a lot of money that you can never spend (because… guess what… you’re still working long hours) isn’t a priority for Shane or for me. While we are very good at accumulating stuff, we also know that spending money on possessions won’t make us happy. We don’t have an endless pile of cash to travel with, but while we know (or we hope!) we can always get another job and make more money in the future, we can’t ever get our time back.
Ultimately, we travel because pushing boundaries and having adventures is at the core of what it means to be human. We are always striving to grow, develop and push beyond what we know and what we are familiar with. My dream is to be an astronaut and to venture out into space and beyond the frontier – to visit new planets and new worlds – but until NASA comes looking for me, seeing more of our own planet is the next best thing. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and new horizons. We are conditioned to a life of security and conformity, which might give us peace of mind, but can limit us at the same time. To get the most out of life we have to free ourselves from the expectations of society and look for meaning and beauty. We have to get out and do it.
The most common regrets people have at the end of their lives are wishing they had had the courage to live a life true to themselves rather than what others expected, and wishing they hadn’t worked so hard. We don’t know what’s round the corner, so we travel because we don’t want any regrets about the way we’ve spent our time.