Why Do You Travel? (Or, What Am I Doing With My Life?)

We all travel for our own reasons. For some, it’s an unspoken curiosity, a desire to see things with your own eyes that you’ve never seen in person. For others, it’s for something more tangible — to party and drink and get up to no good in a warmer climate. For others still, it’s just to relax. To refresh and recover. Some people use travel as an escape, running away from the responsibilities of everyday life to embrace a more carefree existence. Other use it as a chance to run toward something new, something meaningful and liberating.

More often than not, it’s all of these things combined in some bastard fashion we concoct as we go. It’s a mishmash of reasons we use to keep ourselves on the road for as long as we can as often as we can.

I’ve used all of those reasons in the past. Ok, maybe not the party one but that’s only because I’m boring. 

I ask myself every day why I travel. Why I’m drawn to check flight prices and daydream non-existent adventures as I look at any one of the handful of maps that call my apartment home. Sometimes I’ll convince myself it’s because I’m curious. Other times, it’ll be because I actually want to do something specific, like see a World Wonder or take a long walk. And those are both true, honest answers.

Some of the time.

But there’s also more too it than that. Because our desires have layers. Our truths have layers. We have layers

And when I dig into those layers, more often than not the reason why I travel is because I don’t know what else to do.  

I wish I had a calling. I wish there was 1 thing I felt compelled to do, something I would wake up every morning and think about. For some of my friends, that’s music or film or teaching or law. They’ve had that passion since day one and stuck with it.

I never really had that.

Every job I’ve done I’ve enjoyed. Every path I look down I think, “Yeah, I could do this. This would be fun.” Lawyer, paramedic, monk, writer, farmer. Doesn’t matter. I can see myself doing it and I would be content doing so.

But I don’t have that undying passion for them. They don’t compel me with an unrelenting magnetic force. Maybe that’s because they aren’t the paths for me. Or maybe I’m just paralyzed by the paradox of choice.

I do have that obsession, that magnetism, for travel though. It’s addicting.

But I can’t help but wonder if that’s because I love to travel, or because travel is just filling in the gap until I find something to fill that space. Like a rebound hook up after a tough breakup, it’s just the thing I cling to when there’s nothing else to grasp at.

Because if you ask me, travel is the penultimate canvas. It’s a painting you’ll never be able to finish. There will always be new places to see, new things to do. You’ll never be done traveling. It’s the perfect purpose. It gives you a goal, something tangible and real. You can count countries and mark your progress as you collect random and whacky tales. You can fill your days with plans and then fill your days following them. It’s the choose your own adventure book that never has a conclusion. It’s the drug you can never overdose on. That’s why it’s so easy and tempting to make travel my purpose.

 At the core of things, what I love to do is help people. I don’t really care how, but I like to be useful. Travel gives me that, because as I wander around and collect tips and advice I can pass that along to people, helping them make the most out of their own travels. I have an awesome job that lets me help people every day, that lets me engage with an awesome and inspiring community every day. 

And if that’s why I travel then I can live with that.

But at the end of the day, the question is still a mystery to me. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I don’t know why I travel.

 Maybe you don’t know why you travel either. But you do travel — and you will likely keep doing so. That’s ok.

 So will I.

 Because the world’s a beautiful place and I’ve got nothing else to do.

So I’ll see you on the road, friends.