I Want To Travel, But...No One I Know Seems to Approve
6 July 2016 | Mri Grout
I face this a lot more than I would want to to be honest, but then who ever wants to hear that what they're doing with their life is pointless, meaningless, and selfish? Pointless because I'm just 'running away from the real world and will have to face it eventually.' Meaningless because I'm 'not gaining any skills to pursue a 'successful' career.' Selfish because I'm not 'contributing to society.'Well, you know what?
1. Traveling Isn't Pointless
You can't learn how to see from someone else's perspective by always hanging out with a crowd that shares the majority of your views. You can't learn how to become confident when constantly attacked by the fear of social rejection. You can't learn to be 100% self-reliable when you always have your mom or dad or best mate to fall back and ask for help when things get a little bit tough. Traveling forces you to grow in all of these ways and more. It forces you to accept that some things are just weird and different and don't need to be changed even though they don't correspond with your values and opinions. Like hanging strings outside to ward off evil spirits as seen in the photo or the Spanish siesta where everything shuts so people can sleep in the middle of the day (as if getting out of bed once isn't hard enough...) or where they believe in a entirely different religion. Who cares if they believe in Allah instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as long as neither promotes violence? And for those of you who ignorately think that they do, you seriously need to get out and actually see for yourself instead of, you know, promoting that violence and hatred you're claiming they're all about... Traveling the world educates you in ways I'm not sure you could get in any other way. It takes off the rose-colored glasses of your home town and shows you how it could really become great again by oh, I don't know, actually helping out its neighbours (and no, bombing does not equal helping...unless you think firemen should bar all of the outside doors and then put gasoline in their hoses, because that's the same freaking idea but in different scenarios).
2. Traveling Isn't Meaningless
First of all, anything that makes you happy is not a waste of time. It might be weird, useless knowledge, or seen as unacceptable, but It. Is. Not. Meaningless. Second of all, even when judged by society's strict definition of the word (ie: learning a career worthy skill set and making lots of money, where 'lots' means more than whatever you currently have), traveling still isn't meaningless because you actually do learn such skills on the road. For instance, I might not (yet) be fluent in a second language, but I can still hold a conversation with someone that speaks in a different tongue. My abilities to fill in the gaps with educated guesses and mime my desires are through the roof! Though admittedly, nowhere near the ninja level of Rob's. You try miming that you want prescription goggles and see how far you get. Also, I'm picking up website design and HTML5, CSS, and (eventually) Java coding. Rob's pursuing mechanical DIYs and sailing – two hobbies that he can eventually turn into commercial licenses and then, you know, a business. We think about the future all the bloody time – especially since we come from two different continents and immigration is a nightmare. Just because we're having fun living and pursuing our dreams while doing it, doesn't mean we're not working towards a (socially acceptable) goal or purpose.
3. Traveling Isn't Freaking Selfish
The tourism industry rakes in nearly $26 billion a year – in the UK alone! The full figure for global tourism is $7.17 TRILLION – a number I can't even wrap my head around, but according to Google if you made $60/hour, it would take you 31,709.8 years to make $1 trillion. On top of this ridiculous amount of money us travellers pour into economies all around the world, sometimes in some places we're the main contributor to their GDP. AKA: it's our visits that keep Bermuda, Mexico, Spain, Madagascar, southeast Asia, and more countries up and running when the rest of their ecnomy collapses. So how is that not contributing to society again? And I can't speak for all travelers obviously, but we and many other long-term travelers try to travel responsibly. We shop locally to support struggling families and not giant corporations. We learn about the cruelty of some business practices (like, the animal abuse that takes place behind nearly EVERY exotic animal photo) and we fight to bring awareness to the general public. We support the practices and charities that need the financial support everyone claims they need from behind a computer, but no one actually wants to give. We make a damn strong difference as a whole, so again, tell me how that isn't contributing to the world's society.
So What's Stopping You From Traveling Now?
If someone told you gravity didn't exist, would you believe them? What if it was your closest friend or your parents? What if seemingly everyone said it? Would you believe it then and jump off a cliff believing you'd float? Because that's all society is – a collection of thoughts and ideas that are roughly shared amongst the masses. But that doesn't automatically make it the right or best option for you personally. Besides, is the boring life that society promises (ie: work, work some more, retire, be screwed over by the government, probably be forced to go back to work, where you'll be told to go away because you're too old, and then die all alone in a care home) really the golden egg worth solely pursuing? Or should that prize fall to the constant feeling of happiness? To the unique education where you are taught by people all around the globe? To the golden sunsets of Australia? See you on the road.
If you liked I Want to Travel, But No One I Know Seems to Approve, then you might also like these other 'I Want to Travel, But...' posts:
Travel Tip #4
Are you a fellow traveler that faces the accusation of 'you're wasting your life?' What replies do you have? Or are you a want-to-be traveler, but still have some other concerns about it? Whatever it is, we'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!