The Moon or a Hot Air Balloon

by mishvo

On Why You Should Travel. Or Not.


I’m not the type of person who *finally* quit her miserable 9-to-5 job in favor of life on the road. There are lots of those types of people who write travel blogs and, while I applaud the courage it must have taken them to make that leap, I’m pretty sick of reading about it.

It’s always the same story, the same complacency with life that motivates people to go somewhere else and try something new for a while. I’m super happy those people made the change they apparently needed to make, but it sends the message that there’s something inherently wrong with the conventional lifestyle and something inherently right with the unconventional one; when in fact lifestyles aren’t objectively “right” or “wrong” but are maybe “right” or “wrong” for YOU at any given time in your life.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about working a 9-to-5 job, settling down, getting married…you know – living the conventional way. That type of lifestyle definitely has its benefits (um hello financial security! and maybe love, and being able to afford things, and having a little routine that you like) and it suits certain people very, very well.

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I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about living unconventionally: on the road, on a commune, alone in a delapitated school bus in the wilderness of Alaska…That type of lifestyle has its benefits too (adventure! new things! self-discovery! cultural ethnography!) and it suits certain people very, very well.

I’m just so sick of coming upon travel blogs with “about me’s” full-on bashing the conventional lifestyle OF ITS READERS – all “I’m finally free, it was a huge risk and I was terrified but now things are perfect! You’re wasting your life if you think your conventional lifestyle is fulfilling! You’re missing out!”

Like that effing movie, Eat Pray Love.

Oh, as if.

!

Elizabeth Gilbert and the people who made that movie make it their mission to romanticize travel into some sort of magic life elixir. Just go places and you’ll feel better about everything. Go to Italy where all people do is eat pasta; go to India where all people do is practice yoga; go to Bali where you will undoubtedly fall in love because it’s the beach and it’s perfect so obviously.

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As travelers and writers I think we need to stop perpetuating the belief that travel will fix your problems. Chances are, your problems will follow you wherever you go. Or actually, you’ll likely encounter new problems while on the road. That’s what’s good about travel though: it’s challenging. And you grow in the face of those challenges.

Honestly, if there’s anything I’ve learned from traveling, it’s that there a million different ways to live your life. None of them are any righter than the others. It’s finding the balance that works for you as an individual. So go quit your 9-to-5 and have an adventure! Or not! The real “magic life elixir” is being able to know what’s right for you in any given present moment. That’s your key.

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4 comments on “On Why You Should Travel. Or Not.

  1. AJ
    December 31, 2013

    Interesting perspective. Is it possible that a higher proportion of folks who devote their lives to travel choose to start a blog, versus the casual traveler? I started my blog when I “quit my life” to travel, though I made the move because I knew I was looking for a new job and a physical move, and wanted to visit some friends and interesting places before then. Since returning, I find myself months (or years!) behind on posting about my adventures, and although I live in an area considered by many to be a vacation destination, I find it difficult to get excited about my close-to-home explorations. In fact, just yesterday I considered scrapping the whole travel theme and switching to cooking or music instead – something more in line with what I do everyday, at home. It only makes sense that people whose life *is* traveling would write about that, while others would focus on home-based hobbies. I don’t disagree with you about those bloggers who claim that their life decisions are better than those of the rest of us, but I also don’t think that’s limited to the travel genre!

    • mishvo
      January 1, 2014

      Hi AJ – thanks for your thoughtful response. That’s a good point that people who travel and have less-than-extraordinary experiences aren’t going to get on the Internet to blog about them. That’s a completely understandable phenomenon that, like you said, isn’t limited to the travel genre. I guess it’s the holier-than-thou attitude with which many travel bloggers defend their lifestyle choice that I resent.

  2. oddyearstravel
    January 9, 2014

    This is an excellent post, Michelle. Long-term traveling is not for everyone. I quit my 9-to-5, but not necessarily to travel; just to take a break and find out what I wanted to do with my life. It seems to me that more and more people are doing this, too, though on their own terms. It doesn’t always mean selling your car and hitchhiking your way across Africa, but it is exciting to read stories that are written from that perspective. Megan and I often play this silly mind game, usually without being conscious of it, where we narrate other travelers’ stories without knowing a damn thing about the people. Like, “That guy in the Bangkok City shirt over there, drinking a coconut on the sun lounger, probably works in IT. That’s why he can travel in the middle of March. And that dude next to him: he sells toupees door-to-door.” The game only gets creepier from there, but I think you get the picture. Travelers are not all cut from the same stone. Many people now seem interested in not just visiting places, but exploring them in depth and getting to know their cultures. It’s a wonderful thing. But I suppose we all need to check our attitudes so that we don’t proselytize, but instead share our stories in a meaningful way.

    • mishvo
      January 21, 2014

      Hey Craig, good to hear from you! I really like that last line about not proselytizing but sharing in a meaningful way. I completely agree!

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2013 by in Athens/Atlanta, Travel Tips, USA and tagged , , , , , , .
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