Why do we travel and seek out new exotic destinations? Is it to brighten our spirits so that we can be ready to go back to our job again? When you look at our society, we can see that the vast majority of the people are stuck in the same routine. We work to get money, to pay for things we need to distract us from the fact that we have to do some job we don’t even like. It could even be a job that we like. But because we find ourselves in a hole that is getting deeper of wants, we get stuck in the grind. This feeling of being tied down will make anyone resent his or her job.
From this introduction, it is possible to classify our reason to travel as an escape. But what are we escaping? Or should we be looking at what we need to fix? We will first look at some reasons we seek this escape and later on find an alternative solution. One that might make us enjoy our travels even more. Travelling can be enriching to the mind and the soul. Learning about different cultures and how other people live can give us great insights into our own lives. But we must learn how to use our opportunities to travel correctly.
That’s what I’m trying to achieve
Escapism is what comes to my mind when talking about traveling. One of the requirements we have when applying for a new job is the holidays we get. We haven’t even started and we’re already looking for time away from work. Do we know in advance that we will dislike it so much that we need to be away from it? Or is it something else that makes us want to have time off from work? There are a few things we can look at about needing the days off.
From a personal viewpoint, I need my freedom. That’s what I’m trying to achieve after I quit my job, even if I have to go back to one. A big reason why I went into teaching was the number of holidays. I do like teaching, but let me tell you, teachers need every one of those days. Yet, the idea of having all that time was very appealing. But are there ways to have that feeling in our daily lives? Can that help to get rid of the need to escape? This is what Seneca tries to tell us in this quote:
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Letter CIV
We’re starting to ask the right questions
We should not seek freedom in externals, such as holidays. If we were able to find that freedom in our everyday life we would be far happier. We can try to keep escaping the job that bothers us, but it will come back. What we can choose is to accept the job we have to do. And then try to arrange our life in such a way that we can even enjoy it while at work. There are many books out there that can help us re-evaluate our priorities and look at the options of changing careers. This still feels a little bit like escapism, but at least we are starting to ask the right questions here.
Let’s continue to examine why we travel. The first reason was to escape our job or daily lives. Seneca then shows us another reason.
“How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you? You are saddled with the very thing that drove you away.”Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Letter XXVII
I always wanted to move and travel
It is not the job that pushes us to go travel and find different places, it is ourselves. We are trying to escape from who we are. And who we are in our life among our family and friends. Is that who we wish to be or are we playing a part? For the longest time, I felt like I was playing some kind of character. It was only until recently that I realized that I was living my life how I thought others wanted me to live it. That might be one of the reasons why I always wanted to move and travel.
Whenever I stayed in a place too long, I would feel the urge to move out again. I guess it was some kind of fear that people would figure out who I really was. That’s why the quote by Seneca meant something quite personal to me. Together with most of Stoicism and philosophy for that matter, it made me start to look into myself. To finally try to get to know myself.
The need to travel is then gone
We are scratching the surface of these issues, but they are valid points. If you believe that there are other reasons why we are compelled to travel, please share them with me. For now, I’d like to look at ways how we can improve ourselves. To make traveling an experience that adds something to our lives.
What we have read before looks at the element of escaping. We travel because we need a new situation to stimulate us and make us forget about the lives we lead. Wouldn’t it be better if we tried to arrange our daily lives to fit our personality and our goals? We can then learn to choose what is important. Which can make our personal and professional lives more meaningful. When we add that sense of purpose, we can be more consistent in what we do and improve our day-to-day experience. The need for travel is then gone, but the possibility to travel for its good arises.
Now you can add, instead of subtract
When we don’t need to travel but can go to other places, it is also easier to adapt the voyages to our priorities. Whether you want to go away to unwind and read, experience some different weather, or want to feel how other people live their lives, it is up to you. It should, however, not include that fear of returning. Of counting the days to the start and dreading the end of the holiday. We should be fine with where we are and the same way with where we can go. Or even stay at home.
This will take the pressure away from that long-awaited trip. The one that needs to be perfect because we only have a limited time per year to enjoy our lives. If things go wrong then it feels as if we have thrown a year away. While these trips need to add something and open our eyes to other perspectives of the world and what it means to be human. Ask yourself why you want to travel. What is it that you want to get out of it for yourself? Without the pressure of showing off those amazing pictures you took? Ones no one cares about as much as you do. You might be surprised to find that the need for extravagant trips is not that high. You can keep doing what you do back home, but now you can add to it, instead of subtracting.
Be at peace with yourself
Make your travels valuable, not stressful full of desires and wants to be away. Ask yourself what you want to do on a trip. Then you’ll notice it will turn out to be a completely different experience. Whether you see or do all you had in mind before, won’t matter. You’ll be able to appreciate anything you encounter because you’ll be at peace. At peace with yourself. If not, then let me leave you with some more of Seneca’s wisdom on this topic.
“You are running away in your own company.”Seneca, Letters From a Stoic, Letter XXVII