Why Travel?

For some of you, this may not even be a question. You may not know the answer precisely, but the desire to go, to see, to find out what is down that road, or around that bend, is deeply felt.

 

Others of you may like the idea of travel, of knowing the world better, and broadening your horizons, or maybe just knocking those places you've seen online off your life list, but actually getting out there is intimidating and perhaps even overwhelming.

What is travel? How is it different from a vacation?

Travel is not being on holiday or vacation. It can be difficult and downright uncomfortable at times depending on where you go and how you do it. Vacations, at least as practiced by Americans, are generally focused on jamming as much fun into a short space of time as possible, even if your fantasy of fun is that deserted beach or hammock under the palms (reality check: no one stays in the hammock for more than 10 minutes unless they fall asleep and deserted beaches are pretty, but super boring, you will quickly get thirsty and bored and be padding it back to the village for a cerveza). Most vacationers are trying to eat, drink and be merry at a pace they don't feel entitled to back home. They don't sweat the money much because that's kind of the whole point. Europeans and Canadiens tend to "holiday," which means they go for 2 or 3 weeks instead just 1 and they take a slightly more mature approach to their fun with less drunkenness, longer, more considered meals, and fewer jet ski rentals.

Two things fundamentally differentiates travel from vacation:

  • Travel is more sustainable: You can do it for longer on one liver and a reasonable budget. You are living in a way that is more similar to how you would live at home, but you are simultaneously exploring.

  • Travel is more adventurous: You can be stationary, but only if you are staying a month in a village in Peru and learning the culture. Or you can be a gypsy and just see what is down the road. Either way, you are curious and deliberately taking gentle risks to learn more about this strange world we inhabit.

 

So is camping traveling? Not if you go for a week to your favorite campground, drink 270 Bud Lights and 19 hot dogs and then go home. But yes, if you do a 3-week loop around Michigan's Upper Peninsula stopping to explore the Shipwreck Museum and sample the pasties at a supper club. Same goes for being abroad. If you go to Paris, stay for a week, hit the Louvre and the d'Orsay and eat out only where the concierge at your overpriced hotel that was booked by a travel agent sends you to eat – not travel. Get lost on the metro on your way home from walking the Seine under a full moon at midnight – travel.

Is it only travel if I go for a long time?

Well, yes and no. Not many of us are Australian students who leave their mother country on a walkabout and don't return for years. Whether you can't disengage for more than a short time, or simply don't want to, traveling can be a short period of time. Ultimately, travel is an attitude and a style of exploration, so it can be for even a weekend. But it definitely benefits from time. From slowing down and stopping to have a proper look around.

It's more than just an adventure.

Life is simpler. By definition you have reduced the clutter in your life to get out on the road. Maybe you've reduced your household down to what you can fit in an RV. Or maybe you've boiled it all the way down to what you can carry in a car or a backpack? Contrary to feeling deprived by having less stuff, you will feel richer and freer.