Travel hasn’t made me happy. None of it has maaaade me happy. It’s nice to get out of my comfort zone and I feel a sense of fulfillment from all that I’ve done this year, but the happiness I currently have (and I am fairly happy) is something I still need to work on all the time. The saying is true, “wherever you go, there you are.” It might be easy to think of me as this intrepid world adventurer traveling to 16 countries last year, almost like a younger Dos Equis guy or Indiana Jones without all the Nazis, but really I’m just a dude that spent $3500 on flights and had a job flexible enough they haven’t fired me yet. There’s nothing actually heroic about taking a $300 flight to Reykjavik with my friends and renting a car, exploring waterfalls and hopping from hot springs to hot tubs. It’s just a nice thing that I’m glad I did, that’s all. Which, as I grow older, I’m realizing is kinda the point of it all. To do a lot of the things we like doing as often as we can and enjoy them while we do it. Which brings me to my next point:
Travel is bullshit. There’s a whole industry built around making you feel like a sack of dogturds if you don’t travel. “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” reads the instagram post of the hot girl in the jungle, wearing a striking red dress that perfectly compliments the waterfall behind her. She has 187K insta followers. “To Travel is to Live”, says the tattoo of the bro from So Cal that just got “sooooo drunk dude” at that Full Moon party last night. He is the one that will complain check-out is at 10:30 and that is just too early, and he will probably have sex with another girl, who also happens to be from So Cal, tonight in the bunk above you. Squeak squeak squeak. But he’ll be the first one to tell you about how he “found himself in Thailand.” Neat.
And the main reason I have an issue with this is that these people are winning the “Look At How Great My Life Is” award right now, but I question their process. See, I met with a friend for coffee recently, and he is a playwright. But, he’s never left the country before, and he feels he is less-than because of it. He feels he is doing his art and audiences a disservice by only staying in one area of the world for his life. And you know how the old saying goes: “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read but a page”, another quote someone thought would make a great tattoo but decided it was too long.
Now, I can talk all day about the benefits of travel and how it has truly bettered my life, but that’s not what this is about. What my friend needs to understand is that a lot of travel is bullshit. Especially from the people making him feel like crap for not doing it. But he doesn’t have much of a desire to travel. He says it’s a combination of the money and the fact it doesn’t really interest him. To that, I say: 1) don’t travel if you don’t want to and 2) don’t feel bad about it. All we are talking about here is the pursuit of personal growth, and travel can be a great catalyst for that. But so can about 100,000 other things: Learning a new craft, writing more, training for a marathon, meditating, working on being vulnerable in your relationships… I don’t need to give you a list of all the uncomfortable things we can do to improve ourselves, but all I’m saying is don’t feel like you need travel for any reason. History was written by many people that never went 100 miles from their home. It’s just a shame there’s about 1,000,000 Instagram accounts for travel and none about being vulnerable. So write your next wonderful play, friend. Dive as deep as you can into the human experience and share with the world what you’ve found. But don’t for a second feel bad about not getting out there. A lot of well travelled people aren’t half as impressive as you are. Remember that.