We’re told not to travel.
We’re told not to travel by those closest to us. By our well-intentioned parents, and uncles and aunts. By our best friends. By those we love, and those who love us back. We’re told not to travel by those who want us to stay.
We’re told not to travel by those we don’t give a damn about. By the boss who cares more about next month’s schedule than your dreams. By the landlord who doesn’t want to find someone new. We’re told not to travel by those we inconvenience.
We’re told not to travel by our calendars. By the wedding coming up next month. By the holiday season after that. By our mom’s birthday. By that thing your friend does every year that you never miss. By the season finale of that show you like. We’re told not to travel, because we’re told there’s too much to do.
We’re told not to travel by our bank accounts. By our credit cards, and our utility bills. By the price of a tank of gas for the cars we haven’t paid off yet. By the cost of tuition and two-hundred dollar textbooks. We’re told not to travel, because we’re told we can’t afford it.
We’re told not to travel by our television. By the pictures of extremists, waving guns and wearing black. By the stories about diseases, and wars, and missing children. We’re told that other countries aren’t safe. We’re told that tourists are targets. We’re told to stay inside and put bigger locks on our doors. We’re told not to travel, when we don't trust other people.
We’re told not to travel by social anxiety. By the fear we have that we can’t quite explain. By not wanting to spend twelve-hours next to a stranger on an airplane. By not wanting to sleep in a room with people you’ve never met. Because what if they want to talk and you have nothing to say? Or what if they don’t want to talk, and you’re alone the whole time? And what if you take a wrong turn and get lost in a strange country, and what if, what if, what if, what if...
We’re told not to travel when we don't trust ourselves.
And yet, we travel.
With the whole world giving us reasons not to, we do it anyway. We pack a bag, and we head for the horizon. And when we start to travel, something strange happens.
We trust ourselves. We choose not to let our lives be defined by fears and insecurities. Wayne Gretzky has a fear of flying. But if he didn't trust himself to get on an airplane a hundred times a year, he wouldn't have been the greatest hockey player of all time.
We trust others. We choose not to let the media convince us that humanity is bad. Humanity isn't bad; we've just given the bad ones the spotlight. All over the world I've met friendly people who are proud of their countries. People who will give you directions or recommend you places to go. All you need to do is ask.
We buy less. We choose to find value in things that don’t need to be bought. Every time I return from travelling I end up donating old clothing, or finding some way to minimize my possessions. It's liberating. To quote Palahniuk's Fight Club: The things you own end up owning you.
We stay less busy. We choose to save time to travel, to dream, and to live. This doesn't mean your mom's birthday or your friend's wedding isn't important to you. But if you're waiting for a free schedule before your next big adventure, you could be waiting your whole life.
We worry less. We choose to lead our own lives, not the lives others want for us. Everyone has their own perspective, and is going to want something different from you. While every traveller needs to know when to say yes, they also need to know when to say no.
And when we come home from our travels, we love more. Because there’s nothing quite like travel to show you what you had before you left.
Audio version of "We're Told Not to Travel"
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