Why Travel (For Some) is a Waste of Time

by Alexander Heyne · 1 comment

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”


Travel can be harmful to your psychological well-being.

That’s how the news headlines should go, anyway.

First, let me say: travel has done a lot of great things for me.

But it also has totally destroyed certain facets of my life and of my mind.

People almost always in their heads assume that travel guarantees that they will be in scenic, postcard-worthy spots, eating exotic foods, meeting exotic people, and will come back with fresh stories to brag about.

Let me tell you why this could not be further from the truth:

1. Traveling doesn’t guarantee you’re going on an adventure.

This blows my mind every time. Friend: “Yeaaaaaa I’m going to Spain, gonna have a crazy adventure and meet a Spaniard, get kidnapped, ride Shamoo, and go on the adventure of a lifetime yeaaaaaa.”

Rule #1 about traveling: If you aren’t adventurous at home, you probably won’t be adventurous while traveling. Unless you’re the crazy type.

2. The purpose of traveling shouldn’t be to see but to experience.

I know it sounds ridiculously obvious (and it is), but if your goal is to see things rather than experience new things, you won’t have much to talk about when you get back.

Rule #2 about traveling: If you try to see stuff rather than try to experience new stuff [read: create memories and stories] your trip won’t be memorable.  Remember to accumulate experiences that can become memories, rather than stuff that becomes baggage.

3. Traveling to escape somewhere? It won’t work.

If you’re traveling to escape, you obviously have to go back to where you came from, right? If you aren’t mending the situation at home that makes you miserable it’s just going to haunt you twice as bad once you get back.  Wanderlust always meets its match.

Rule #3 about traveling: If you are trying to escape something (someone?) at home, it WILL find you.

4. The grass is not greener on the other side.

Another side of going traveling to escape something is going traveling to hope for something new.

People all over the world have the same concerns, the same ideas, the same bullshit to deal with, and the same dreams of greener pastures that you do.

Get realistic and realize that if you hope moving somewhere else will provide you with some solace you currently don’t have — you’re probably deluding yourself.

Rule #4 about traveling: The grass is not greener somewhere else!

5. Traveling doesn’t guarantee you are going to see and experience fresh things.

This one may come as a kicker to some people.  Aside from seeing a brand new spot on earth (you can drive down the corner for that), the choices you make during your life more often reflect whether or not you have an adventure.

You can eat at McDonald’s in China.  You can find Wifi at just about any location on earth. Starbucks is pretty much found on every street corner in every major city on the planet.

The way you carry out your daily life will, more often than not, reflect how your travels will go:

  • If you are usually a curious person who tries new food, travel will be exotic.
  • If you are usually a fun person who likes to wander aimlessly down an intriguing alley, travel will be filled with adventure.

Rule #5 about traveling: Travel is only what you make it. There are few guarantees.


Some food for thought

Really honestly answer this question:

    • If your current life is not filled with excitement, adventure, fresh challenges, new foods & people, and curiosity, why would going somewhere else be any different?  Does flying to Fiji immediately mean you’re guaranteed the “adventure of a lifetime?”
Expectations can be a dangerous thing. 


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ann August 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I fall prey to hoping for better things and escapism, as I hate the idea of slaving to meaningless and unethical job however, I totally can say from being around my now-husband and other folks just going out to places, or during the few travel trips I’ve had, that it really is what you are/make of it. I can be tired and whiny some days, but other days I wonder “why aren’t they as excited as me? this is so cool…they really have NO true concept of what they are looking at”..it’s like that certain kind of eye of perspective has to be opened, or they lack a sense of purpose or bigger aspirations aside just plugging away at work or at school…part of them isn’t alive.

I have always been a curious (albeit also paranoid and fearful, thus I haven’t travelled much as I’d like to) and creative type, and for me travel isn’t just about seeing “things”. I like some lovely old archictecture, but what I REALLY love is seeing the various froms of the planet I just could never see back home.

I love wildlife, and I visit zoos in every city trip around our areas (aside our shitty zoo run by horrible people)…but you know? zoos vs finding a wild monkey in Taiwan, is not even comparable almost! at the zoo, sure you may be lucky to see them active….but the mere low chances a money will be where you take a break for 15 mins max from a tour bus? it’s more of a “wow” even if you don’t even have a thing for monkeys—-because “I could never, ever see this in Canada except at a zoo…once in a lifetime”.

I think, it’s not only curiosity, but you need to have a sense of wonder and appreciation. Without that, heck, even life at home is pretty darn dull regardless how much you have. I still get a kick out of every little squirrel I see and squeek over them and talk about how I’d like to pet them so badly, because, seeing them more than monkeys doesn’t mean they aren’t still as cute as before….they are flipping adorable and fun to watch.


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