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?
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.
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.
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.
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 others 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, try to see the local perspective, and find ways to travel like a local. And this includes taste testing all the new foods available…
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.
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?
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