But Really, Why Do You Travel?

June 9, 2017

Why Do You Travel

Ask any of my friends what I love to do and the answer will be travel. But few of them would be able to answer why. Sometimes it can feel like we’re all just travelling for the next best viral photo or Instagram worthy-shot, and we’re forgetting why we wanted to embark on these adventures in the first place. Especially if you’re in the blogging world, which can change the way you travel or where travel as a privilege can be forgotten.

Cassandra from The Quirky Pineapple recently created a campaign on Instagram with the hashtag #travelismorethaninstragam. In Cassandra’s words “If you have a social media account and you’re traveling but NOT posting a picture about it, did you really go anywhere?”. As bloggers and influencers who are often trying to promote a destination through our photos, we were encouraged to do so but also share why we really travel to remind us it’s not all about the photo evidence, it’s about what’s behind the Instagram photos.

So what is it that truly drives us? I posted my own thoughts, and in turn asked others why they travel too. The response I got on my posts and saw on others were amazing (seriously, check them out)! The reasons were everything from that feeling of anonymity you get in a different place, to having the opportunity to eat ALL the food (I’ll put my hand up for that one too).

Last year I wondered if I was growing tired of travel after years of living abroad and travelling as much as possible. Travel should be meaningful, and with all the moving around I did and the strain it was putting on my emotions I was suffering a little from the reality that is travel burnout. Happily, I got over that and my feet are itching again already, but this campaign made me stop and think, why do I travel?

My love of travel started with my parents and the adventures they would take me on. I’ve always said they’re one of my main travel inspirations. Next in line is probably books! As a child, I was an avid reader and I longed to see some of these destinations I read about with my own eyes, and embark on my own adventures there. I just wanted to get out and explore, to see these new worlds, to see how I was when I was in them.

And I did. I’ve travelled and moved across borders more times than I’ve kept count of now.

But there was a point when I started wondering, what’s it all about? Should I keep travelling? Was I just running away from adulthood? There were times when I started wondering if I was really happy doing it or if I was just travelling, because well, travelling is what I do.

Maybe every now and then I just need a reminder of why travel is one of the best choices of my life. So really, why do I travel?

To Learn

I have an insatiable desire to learn. I remember getting stuck in the Wikipedia rabbit hole at University countless times, only to emerge 4 hours later when I should have finished an essay but instead knowing a whole lot about stuff I’ll probably never need to know about. I loved learning about history and geography at school, but travelling has taught me far more than I ever learnt in the classroom. It also made me realise how history can be viewed from different perspectives, but often we’re only taught one of them.

Why Do You Travel

To Feel

I’m not saying that staying in one place doesn’t mean you can’t reach the depth of emotions you do when you travel, but it certainly has a way of heightening them. I think this is why I often get restless when I settle for awhile. I need a bit of adrenalin in my life! Even if it means a day doing something different.

To Be Anonymous

“I love the feeling of being anonymous in a city I’ve never been before.” – Bill Bryson

This. That feeling that no one knows you and you’re on your own. You can be anyone and do anything.

Why Do You Travel

To Meet People

I love meeting new people, speaking to them about their lives and getting an insight how things can be so different just because you’re born in a different place or have had a different upbringing. We’re all where we are and how we are by a stroke of chance really. Travelling allows us to meet people we would never have before.

To Remind Me Life is Far Too Short

There’s that cliche about how we only have one life and this isn’t a dress rehearsal, that you need to make the most of it, blah blah. But there’s truth in it too. That can mean very different things for different people but I think for me having seen part of the world, I’ve realised how easy it can be to see even more, and how small it really is. So why wouldn’t I want to get out there and do my best to see as much as I can?

Of course, I won’t see and experience it all. But I can certainly try to see a lot. I know too many people who haven’t made it as far as I have in life and I feel like it’s my duty to live a full life and experience as much as possible for them.

Why Do You Travel

To Know Myself

I don’t think you have to travel to find yourself, and I certainly don’t think you can escape yourself by travelling. What you can do is come to know yourself better. Learn what it is that makes you tick and better understand your own actions. I’ve realised so much about by myself by being in the diverse situations that travel puts me in, both stressful and exhilarating.

To Experience Other Cultures

Some stereotypes of culture are true, and some aren’t. That’s why they’re stereotypes, and until we experience them for ourselves we can’t make up our own mind. In fact, when we travel we might still be in a cultural bubble that’s presented to us through the tourism industry in that country, but we should also take any opportunity to ask questions, get away from the main tourist centres and try to see the local perspective. And this includes taste testing all the new foods available…

Why Do You Travel

To Have Adventures

Yes, there are adventures in our own backyard, and we don’t take advantage of them often enough. If travel taught me anything then it’s to appreciate what’s right in front of us. But something about travel makes us more open to adventure. Jump out of that plane? Sure. Go on a day hike? No worries. Learn to dive? Awesome!

To Challenge Myself

You’ve likely heard travel isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes things go wrong, and you have to figure out how to deal with them. Sometimes you have a crap day and you just want to talk to someone you know but no one’s available. Maybe you’re struggling to make friends in your new home or get an expat job. Travel is about pushing yourself into situations you truly don’t need to be in, but you know you’ll grow and learn from them so you do it anyway.

Why Do You Travel

To Not Look Back And Wonder

Sure I could look back and wonder what life would look like if I had stayed in New Zealand after university and worked in what I studied, but I didn’t. I wanted to see some more of the world and I had to go out and answer that call, otherwise I would always have wondered “what if?”. I might have had an amazing life doing that, and I’ll never know, but at least I do know I’ve had an amazing life travelling and living abroad! If the call of “what if” is bigger in one direction, then I think you need to answer it.

Travel is much more than photos and getting to the most Instagram-worthy spot for the most Instagram-worthy image. It’s about how it makes you feel and how it stretches into other areas of your life, from your career, to social group, to self-motivation, and learning. So, why do you travel?

Sonja x

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36 Comments

  • Reply Sarah June 10, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I love this and I love all the responses to this awesome hashtag campaign! Instagram truly is the 21st century version of “if a tree falls in the woods but nobody’s there to hear it…”

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Me too! Such a great campaign and one I hope continues to live on!

  • Reply LC June 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    All good points (with you especially on the eating part!). I like the point you make of there being adventure in your own backyard – if you can recognise the adventure on your own doorstep, then you can consequently find it wherever you go. What I would add is travelling for the story – the stories you write on your blog or in your journal if you keep one, the stories you tell your friends and family, even the stories you can repeat to yourself, in those lull periods of life, which we all go through.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 12, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks! The only problem with the eating part is then you miss all the different foods and trying to recreate them is never quite the same haha. I agree with the stories! It’s so life to feel like you’ve built a life full of stories to share that are all different and many of them could never be repeated.

  • Reply Minna June 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Lovely post. I also knew from a young age that I needed to get out and see the world! I never want to look back on a life of ‘what ifs’!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks! Me neither, life’s much too short for that 🙂

  • Reply Rianne June 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this! Such a good idea to take a moment to stop and think why we do what we do. I think you’ve made many valid points here. I agree it often looks like everyone is just after the best Instagram shot, which makes me wonder what it is all about…

    Personally, I think my reason to travel is that it forces me out of my comfort zone and leads to personal growth. It doesn’t make life easy and sometimes I wonder why I put myself in difficult situations, but afterwards the sense of pride and achievement is so worth it. I am from a small village myself, where many people are narrow minded and prejudiced towards foreigners. Moving to London has been such a great life experience for me and it is probably the best decision I have ever taken!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve always loved to travel but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought so carefully about WHY before!

      I agree with the getting out of your comfort zone thing, I’ve definitely put myself in difficult situations I didn’t need to as well! It sounds like we have done similar things :). Good luck!

  • Reply Christy June 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    all of the above!

  • Reply Kristine June 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I already shared this post on my social media platforms on Saturday (#blogpostsaturday) and I think it’s an important question you’re asking. I think it’s necessary for every modern day nomad to take a minute and think about their reasons for traveling. What are mine? Well, I am passionate about writing, and I gain inspiration from every trip, every challenge, every experience, every mistake. I’m currently working on my first novel where my life as an expat in Paris is my main inspiration. For the next novels, I’ll use other countries/cultures as a source of inspiration 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      I think it’s good to really consider it, especially when we look at the impact of tourism around the world. I love the idea of travelling for inspiration for novels!

  • Reply Joanna June 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Why do I travel? – it’s a great question actually and it made me ask myself the same question… why do I travel? I guess that for me, the answer is more complicated that I thought. I can say that I travel to escape and I know this is an unusual answer. But for me, growing up in a family where we my mother would save money all year to take us for a week at the seaside in summer in the same place, I find the world to be fascinating. I love discovering new cultures and their traditions, I love blending in with the locals. And I do it for myself, for my own thirst of knowing and learning.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      It made me stop and think too! Or at least try to think of something more than “because it’s fun and I like it, duh”. I do it for myself too, but I guess also in the hope that travelling can lead to a better understanding of different cultures by me and the people I meet along the way.

  • Reply My Travelogue by Bhushavali June 12, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Beautiful reasons. But do we really need reasons. Just ‘I like to travel and I want to travel’ are good enough reasons, aren’t they?
    The point I agree the most with is ‘To Learn’. I’ve learnt the most while on the road, traveling, than in proper 9-5 job!!!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      I think that maybe in the beginning we don’t need reasons, or we don’t readily recognise what they are. But as I’ve got older (yikes) I’ve been questioning my desire to travel more, especially when it competes with other things like the desire to be part of a community, or have a family, or a career. Travel for the sake of travel is fun, but for me at least, I got to a point where I wondered why I was choosing travel over other life options. So I thought about it! 🙂

  • Reply Bianca June 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I travel because I want to experience LIFE. It’s a big world out there and so many cultures, traditions, food, people etc. I want to experience everything. And like you, I also want to learn. I want to feel. I don’t wanna be under a rock for the rest of my life wondering and asking “what if” questions. Also, I believe that traveling really opens our minds because we get the chance to understand others better.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Exactly, to me it’s all about heightening the senses that make us feel more alive, finding out about new things and learning. Especially learning about how other people live and trying to see the world from different perspectives.

  • Reply Jennifer June 12, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I love putting myself out of my comfort zone and that’s one of the reasons I travel. It’s a great way to reset patterns that no longer serve us. Somehow, being somewhere totally different can actually feel like home and be such a comfort too.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Same here! Sometimes we don’t realise we’re in a rut until we leave it I think. I love the feeling of being on the road, that freedom can be more comforting than staying put!

  • Reply Jas from My Suitcase Journeys June 13, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Love all the reasons you listed and they’re all valid for me as well although I’d say my biggest reason is the last one “to not look back and wonder”. There are too many what if’s. I don’t want to wake up one day and regret that I’ve lived so routinely for the past thirty, forty, fifty years – without even experiencing and exploring the beauties that life has to offer. Oh and of course traveling is for escaping from adult responsibilities too hahaha. It gets a bit too hectic sometimes and we all deserve a little break.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks! Agreed, I love how travel gives us that little escape haha.

  • Reply Whitney aka Mrs. Millennial June 13, 2017 at 1:10 am

    I’ll add another reason for you: to plan. I’m a planner at heart, and I love the buildup to a vacation just as much as the trip itself. Getting to plan out every detail is a rush, and then actually experiencing your plan come to life the sweet rewards for your efforts.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Haha I’d agree with that! I’ve probably planned twice as many trips as I’ve actually taken because I love planning so much. Sometimes I’ll research all the flights and accommodation before deciding not to go ahead for whatever reason. And there’s so many places I’ve dreamed of going and done a ton of research about but not been to! So it’s definitely satifying when the plans actually work out haha.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Haha I’d agree with that! I’ve probably planned twice as many trips as I’ve actually taken because I love planning so much. Sometimes I’ll research all the flights and accommodation before deciding not to go ahead for whatever reason. And there’s so many places I’ve dreamed of going and done a ton of research about but not been to! So it’s definitely satisfying when the plans actually work out haha.

  • Reply Rachelle June 13, 2017 at 5:01 am

    I love this post and think there’s wisdom in being able to understand the why…not just in travel, but in everything. Whatever journey we embark upon will lose meaning if we don’t understand why we’re doing it. I love putting myself in new situations and seeing how much I can learn about myself, especially when I travel.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      I totally agree. We need a bit more why in our life I think, so that we can act with more purpose. And I agree travel is a great way to learn more about ourselves!

  • Reply eazynazy June 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I loved each and every point you described and being a Traveler I can totally relate to it which is so true. I am a newbie but I loving my work 🙂

  • Reply Vicki Louise June 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    These are some great responses to the question of why we travel. I agree with all of them, but my top pick would be: “I don’t want to look back and wonder, what if” – and that’s the same for anything in my life!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Me too! I think it’s a great mantra for when we’re unsure of what to do. I always think that I’ll regret not trying or doing things more than I would if I did them and it didn’t work out.

  • Reply stephanie June 18, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    great article! next time people ask me this question I send them these 10.
    x

  • Reply kelly June 19, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    I found your blog a couple of months ago because I was planning a trip to Edinburgh and the Highlands from which we’ve just returned. I don’t really fit into the age group this piece is aimed at (I’m almost 61, raised three boys, and retired from my career as an educator), but I love travel in general, photography in particular, and enjoy social media as well. My husband and I travel for all of the reasons you mentioned and although I do post photos of our travels, the last thing that would ever drive our travel choices is garnering the perfect Instagram shot. No hashtag needed. I’ll put a plug in for travel whenever you can take it on in life because I have. My parents traveled with us (me, brother, sister), I traveled as a young adult, a young mother, traveled with my boys — still traveling. The key is to simply do it even if it’s somewhere relatively close to where you live. I like your blog — best of luck to you in your new adventures.

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 21, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks so much for your lovely feedback! I hope you had a great trip through Edinburgh and the Highlands. I agree we should travel whenever we’re able to, wherever we can, and I hope to be doing it for a long time to come. I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of travelling for the enjoyment of it in general, and taking pictures and posting them as part of that, not in order to get likes!

  • Reply Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad June 27, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Love this!! I’m actually working on a similar post myself but I think you’ve covered it all, haha!

    P.S. I’ve just seen you’re coming to Orkney!! Not often a blogger does that! 😉 Let me know if you need any tips, if you’re not here already!

    • Reply Migrating Miss June 27, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Haha thanks! It took me awhile to figure out how much truth there is to it all, with so many rumours about!

      I’m going next week and I can’t wait! I haven’t even started planning yet haha, but I’ll get onto it this week and let you know! Thanks!

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