My father visited recently and John and I were telling him about our plan to travel around the world for the entirety of next year. As when we told my soon to be in-laws, we got a flabbergasted look and later, some probing questions designed to make us re-think our plans. After all, we’re in our early thirties and getting married in a few months, so I guess that means most people think we should be buying a house to live in, having children right away and working harder on scaling that corporate ladder. We get similar shocked reactions from friends and relatives.
We saw Henry Rollins speak a few days ago. One story he related really struck a chord with me. He’d given a commencement address to a college in northern California. He said that he’d reminded those excited university graduates that a diploma wasn’t just a license to go out and buy a big box in the suburbs and fill it up with stuff. Now, I’m not anti-capitalist or even much of a hippy really. But I do believe in that idea. If it’s your dream to settle into a cosy suburban existence, I’m not judging you. But that’s just not for me.
We all have our minds and our lives. We get into comfort zones and routines. Even the most creative of people is affected by the day-to-day maintenance of a job and a lifestyle. At least once in awhile, I need to shake things up and step out of that routine. It has little to do with the beautiful towns and countryside we’ll explore, or the beaches we may lie on or the museums we’ll see. For me, the need to travel is tied up in two things: the people we’ll meet and the process of travelling.
I’m a somewhat entrepreneurial person and I like to be creative and contemplative as I go through my life. I don’t feel that I can be the best version of myself if I’m stuck in the same habits, not learning anything and not growing. I can watch the news and read about people in other parts of the world but that’s no substitute for getting out there and seeing it all for myself. Travel sabbaticals give a person new points of reference, new ideas and, most importantly, new challenges.
So next year is our year. We’re not going into debt to pay for our adventures. We’re not going away so that we can party in some exotic location. And one year on the road is not going to wreck our careers or prevent us from starting a family. We're not running away from responsibility. And we haven't lost our minds. It’s just something that we need to do for ourselves. Because in the end, the only person you really have to answer to in life is you.
Why do you travel?