Last week I joined a discussion on The Huffington Post about leaving a career to travel the world. During our discussion Alex, from Milk The Pigeon was asked about a post he wrote titled ‘5 reasons why not to quit your job and travel the world’ I’ve been nursing my own philosophies on this exact subject for some time and I think Alex nails his argument, he just doesn’t incorporate enough about Werewolves for my liking…
Alex’s asks the all-important question: Why do you want to travel long term? Something I think most long term travellers need to ask themselves or at least ponder during or before a journey.
Travel seems to be sometimes thought of as this almost mystical experience, like some sort of magical shortcut, a kind of spiritual ‘hack’ that will solve all our problems. It’s a bit like travellers get a Porsche 911 while the rest of humanity are stuck driving your mums Daewoo Lanos.
When I chat to fellow travellers, like Alex, I hear quite similar stories about why they decided to leave their daily lives in the first place (Long term relationship just ended, hate their job, looking to ‘find themselves’ overseas) and while I love that fact that people are seeing the world, I keep coming back to a single response.
Travel is Not a Magic Bullet.
I have spoken to people, seen (and experienced) firsthand how leaving the normal world to travel is seen as an answer to any number of lifestyle problems. There is this misconception that long term travel will instantly make you a better person or leave you changed in some remarkable way in much the same manner as we imagine a near death experience might leave us forever grateful to be alive.
There is no such thing as a magic bullet. They don’t exist. Want to lose weight? Eat less, run more, it’s going to hurt and you’re going to have to work at it.
If you travel the world to seek easy answers in my experience they’re unlikely to come. If you travel to solve a personal problem, it’ll be there when you get home. If you travel to become more spiritual it’s probably not going to happen… I don’t care how much vegan food you eat or how many nose piercings you have.
Sorry to throw a giant spanner in the works, but you’re chasing imaginary wolves with magical bullets.
I have found that travellers single-mindedly looking for something specific from their journeys often come home a little disappointed after not experiencing this overnight mind altering event they were seeking. If you want to alter your mind overnight.. drop LSD instead, it’s much cheaper and usually involves more unicorns.
It reminds me of something about a donkey chasing a carrot… or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Long term travel can be many cool, interesting and humbling things but it’s not the blue pill Neo swallows to take him further down the rabbit hole.
Expectations are unreliable guides to follow in almost anything, travel especially. In my opinion: The experience you’re seeking will not be the experience you have and the experience you have, will not be the experience you expected. – This can be a really good thing.
Travel is not a magic bullet, it will not fix your problems, will not fix your relationship, will not make you happy with yourself, will not change you overnight for the better or make you a wizened Dumbledore type fellow people named ‘Daisy’ seek out for astrology advice.
The reality is more subtle and ultimately more interesting. You might answer questions you never knew you had. You may grow but in an unexpected direction. Encountering new ideas and meeting new people may challenge your beliefs and opinions. Change is inevitable and rewarding but unpredictable.
There are no werewolves or magic bullets, just experiences (and that’s a good thing).