There is probably not a soul with access to the internet who has not read an article touting the supposedly endless benefits of travel. Inspirational words are often used as calls to action, nudging the reader out of his ‘comfort zone’, which, incidentally, is a phrase that can also be found in many an article.
Travel, in a way, has become the religion of the modern society — multitudes of people clamour for a slice of the joy and fulfilment that it offers. But, like any religion, not everyone is a believer. The question begets: Is it really wrong? Are these people actually missing out?
You say, “But travel is the ultimate journey of self-discovery.” Non-travellers disagree. Travel is ultimately only an interest, much like crocheting or football; it is certainly not just the only way, nor is it the best way to discover ourselves. Looking back, we realise we do it all the time, from the moment we grow vaguely aware of our existence as toddlers, to our days in school and beyond — self-discovery never ceases. We can just as surely discover our deep-rooted resilience and resourcefulness in unexpected situations in foreign lands as much as we would in tricky situations in our jobs back home; the only difference is the location.
You say, “Travel helps you appreciate family and home.” Homesickness is a temporary ailment that clears up once we are back safe and sound. No, appreciation only comes with maturity, when we watch our parents age and start to toil against what was once mere routine; when we acknowledge that even having a home places us in a more fortunate situation than most. Let’s be honest, we only miss home when we are abroad for its many comforts; in other words, what home can offer us.
You say, “Travel is an adventure of a lifetime, to see places and meet people you many never cross paths with again.” Perhaps some prefer not to dabble with the more fleeting aspects of life; perhaps some derive comfort from clinging on to things of permanence and familiarity. Not everyone’s aspiration in life is to travel the world, nor is it to sail the seven seas, to scale the highest mountains, to cross arid deserts, to bungee jump off a bridge, or even to gawk at the majesty of the Northern lights. For some, to live is to read a good book, to compose a good song, or to master a computer game. This is essentially what makes human beings so unique — having different passions and interests.
And, call me a sceptic, but citing travel as a means of social media detoxification is absurd. Short of being holed up in a third-world country or any other place far from modern civilisation, it is not uncommon to find travellers glue themselves to hotspots to upload their latest photos. To not be overly engrossed in anything, let alone social media, requires discipline wherever we are, and that is the bottom line.
It is interesting how stripping rehearsed reasons to travel has led me to two striking observations. Firstly, many of these reasons are basically justifications to achieve the same goals in a different country that we may have failed to back home. Secondly, behind the idealism of travel is nothing but a personal preference; some people enjoy travelling while others do not. For those who do, it is undoubtedly life-changing; we are exposed to so many different cultures and unique experiences that we will probably never get the chance to back in our own countries. There are a million (legitimate) reasons to travel, but not everyone shares the same passion, and that is perfectly okay.
It is often said that we are all just trying to find happiness at the end of the day, and travel is but one of the many ways. If one finds it somewhere else, who are we to convince them otherwise?
This article was first published here.