I’m sure you’ve seen the posts before, if you’ve spent any time in the travel blogosphere:
You Can Drop Everything And Travel!
How to Travel on Nothing!
Why Travel Excuses Are Bull$#!*!
And so on.
The refrain is obvious: if you want to travel and you think you can’t you’re lying to yourself. And honestly, that’s a rough thing to hear from a blogger you respect. The “just get out there and do it” motto is fine, and some people need to hear it. It’s not that the rhetoric itself it harmful, it’s that it dominates the discussion. Too often, “just go” is falling on the ears of people who desperately want to travel but really, truly, can’t.
Like the woman who’s spending every second she can with her father before he passes away.
Or the man with a chronic illness who doesn’t have the foreign support system necessary for traveling where he wants to.
Or the woman with the high-power, high-clearance job who struggles to get permission to travel freely outside of the US.
Or the man with a highly sensitive and deadly peanut allergy who’s always dreamed of Thailand.
We need to stop treating travel as if it’s the end-all, be-all of every human’s life. Travel is powerful – it forces you outside of your comfort zone, facilitates language learning, teaches about different cultures, and introduces you to new food. But you know what? You can do those things from home. Get takeout from that new Indian restaurant, start a new language on Duolingo, read a travel memoir, watch Samsara, volunteer with refugees in your area. See the sites near where you live – almost everyone I talk to lives within a day’s drive of some major tourist attraction they’ve never been to. (I’m guilty here myself.)
While we’re on this subject, let me take things one step further: if you travel frequently and stretch your comfort zones, eat new food, talk to strangers, and volunteer your time but don’t when you’re at home, you need to check yourself and ask, “why do I travel in the first place?”
Travel is a wonderful, powerful past time. My experiences on the road have shaped me greatly. But it’s not the pinnacle of everything human. It’s not possible or a low a priority for a lot of people. And that diversity of life experience, priority, and preference is what makes travel beautiful in the first place.