If you look at some of my favourite books, you will notice a theme: journeys and adventures. As a child I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, later it was Lord of the Rings and Heart of Darkness. My favourite book of all time is Ghostwritten—a novel set in Tokyo, Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, England and Russia.
The desire to travel has always consumed me, and this is what drives me to scour the internet for cheap flights and jump on a plane (or a bus, or boat) every chance I get.
These are the 5 reasons I travel.
See Amazing Places
I will never climb the walls of Kirrin Castle, roam the wilderness of Middle Earth, or journey up the Congo River, but I can travel to equally incredible places. I have visited beautiful beaches in Thailand, golden pavilions in Japan, jungles, mountains, and cities. Our planet is such a diverse and amazing place, it seems wrong not to get out there and see it for yourself.
Meet New People
When travelling you barely go a day without meeting somebody new. One of the things I miss most when I settle in a place for a long time is the lack of interaction with new people. There is nothing like climbing into a tiny jeep for a 3 day journey with 4 people you only met 20 minutes earlier. But those same people will be the people you go to a concert with in a different city weeks later.
Overcome Fear and Challenge Yourself
If you’re terrified of bugs and spiders, what do you do? Spend two nights in the Amazon Rainforest of course! Afraid of heights? Fly in a helicopter. Exercise is not your thing? Climb a mountain. You will be amazed at what you can push yourself to do when you get out of your comfort zone.
Explore Culture and History
You have seen pictures of the Taj Mahal. You have heard the stories (whether true or not) of how the people forced into building it were maimed afterwards. But there is nothing like standing up-close to see the gems glittering in the sunlight to appreciate how much work went into building it, and what a labour of love it is.
Or how can you really comprehend genocide until you’ve walked in the footsteps of a country recovering from it?
Have you experienced what it is like to be content, even though you have nothing?
Travel can open your eyes, and your mind, to all of these things.
Escape from ‘Real Life’
Travel offers a release from the daily routines that can sometimes grind you down. It doesn’t have to be long-term travel, and you don’t have to go far away. Sometimes just a weekend in a different city can really pick you up and re-energise you.
There are many reasons why people don’t travel and I’m speaking specifically here about people who want to travel, but throw obstacles in the way. The common obstacles are:
You have worked hard in school and at university to get the job you thought would make you happy, and now that you’ve got it you worry that you can’t give it up to travel. Of course this depends upon the job that you have, but many employers see a well-travelled person as a benefit. Some might agree to a sabbatical, or offer to keep your job open. Or maybe you can find a job that enables you to travel. Teaching is perfect for me because I can teach anywhere in the world, and travel during the holidays. If you really want to travel, you can find a way to make it happen.
I am lucky that I have a supportive family who have always made it easy for me to travel. By that I mean they have offered emotional support, and I have always known that I have a home to come back to. I don’t have children but know that with the right mindset, and a few alterations, it is possible to travel with children. You will, of course, miss the people you love who are back at home, but in the age of Facebook and Skype, there are more ways to contact home than ever before. I even know of travellers whose families have come out to visit them while they are away!
This has been a personal obstacle for me, as I had to overcome heavy debt before I could travel to South America. Overcoming debt is challenging and sacrifices have to be made, but it’s amazing how much the small things, like cutting out that morning coffee or walking instead of taking the bus, can make a big difference.
Fear of travelling alone, fear of the unknown, fear of giving up a good job, fear of upsetting family, fear of getting robbed, fear of spending all your savings: there are many reasons why people fear travelling, but sometimes you have to get out there to realise that many of these fears are unfounded.
Yes, things might go wrong, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”