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

Photo taken from the window of an airplane with the sunset on the horizon.
Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

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

Group of people sitting on a mountin ovelooking a lake during a sunset whil on their tavels.
Photo by Arthur Poulin on Unsplash

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

Why we travel. @You're running away in your own company.@ Seneca. Man overlooking mountains in the eevening.
Why we Travel – Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

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
Why we Travel
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20 thoughts on “Why we Travel

  • 13 August 2022 at 14:04
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    Well, for me it’s not about escape but more to make memories for the future. But I can relate to your reason as well sometimes.

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    • 14 August 2022 at 12:35
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      Thank you for your comment, Fransic. I can completely understand that it isn’t necessarily as an escape. Making memories is also a good reason. I wanted to push people a bit to really think about why they go on trips. As I started doing the same, to make them fit me as a person more. Thanks again.

      Reply
  • 14 August 2022 at 18:36
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    One of my wishes is that I get to travel in the future as I definitely haven’t been able to do it regularly or very often so far. I have been fortunate to do some travel in my life that has been really inspiring. Very thought provoking!

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    • 16 August 2022 at 00:12
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      Thank you, Molly for you lovely comment. I also hope that you get to travel some more in the future. And it’s great to hear that you’ve been able to make some inspiring voyages. That’s what traveling should be about.

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  • 15 August 2022 at 07:05
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    I enjoy travel to experience new places and gain new priceless moments and memories. Thank you for sharing this post. I really enjoyed reading this post. ☺️

    Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)
    Letstakeamoment.com

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    • 16 August 2022 at 00:13
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      Thank you for your kind words. Having those experiences and memories are a great additions to one’s life. Glad you enjoyed reading it.

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  • 15 August 2022 at 11:06
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    I have read it now twice – last night and now. But I was too tired to fully understand the deep thoughts of this post and decided to come back with a fresh mind in the morning for comment. I am glad I did.

    This sentence “If we were able to find that freedom in our everyday life we would be far happier.” – is my ultimate goal, get more control of how I spend my time in everyday life and not be stuck somewhere I don’t want to be. There are parts of my day job I really enjoy and like, but the demand of 8-5 in the office is slowly killing me. Dayjob requires creativity, and I think best in the evenings or outdoors.

    I don’t miss traveling, probably because in my “previous life” I was constantly on the road for a decade so I really do enjoy the simplest thing like just being at home and knowing that when I leave in the morning – I will be back in the evening and can sleep in my own bed.

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    • 16 August 2022 at 00:17
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      Thank you for sharing your insights and experience. A lot of what you said sounds very familiar. I liked my job to a certain extend, but felt I wasn’t using my full potential and especially not my most productive hours. I made the choice to leave the job for now and try my luck in other ways.
      With you idea of building your dream house, then your travels will go there any time you want. Thanks again for your great comment. These keep one writing.

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  • 16 August 2022 at 02:06
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    This is such a thought provoking post.

    I used to travel to get away from problems. But these days, I travel because I enjoy it and want to make memories.

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    • 16 August 2022 at 23:27
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      Thank you for sharing your views and also for being so open. It is an important step to realize why we do things. Only then can we examine if it is because we want to or if there are alternative motives. Great to hear you found it out with traveling.

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  • 16 August 2022 at 14:18
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    This is a great article. Escapism was my thing though and when you said “one of the requirements we have when applying for a new job is the holidays we get” you had me there, that is me! And teachers absolutely need it. But I used to love London until when I visited the Yorkshire and Humber region, not for escapism, and fell in love so much that I moved!

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    • 16 August 2022 at 23:29
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      Thank you, Ron. Your comment is great to read and it’s beautiful to hear that it struck a cord with you. The way you describe the Yorkshire and Humber region makes me like to spend some time there. Again, thank you for your kind words.

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    • 13 September 2022 at 19:01
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      I’ve never really been drawn towards travelling. For one, you never know how racist some places are. All the time wasted in airports and tiny seats with no leg room was also part of it. But mainly, it was because my psychosis was completely out of control for the majority of my adult life. Now I just want stability rather than travel

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      • 20 September 2022 at 22:12
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        Thank you for sharing and I completely respect how you feel towards traveling. Having that stability you need is also very important. Doing what you feel you need is what counts. Some people get that from traveling, others don’t need it. But if people travel, then they should do it for the right reasons.

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  • 17 August 2022 at 00:13
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    Great post Benny. I understand what you mean; I had friends who would say “I can’t wait to get away” and I would think – get away from what? But I understand. I think most people are trying to escape, as you say. Most people work 9-5 5 days a week because they feel they don’t have a choice, which is sad. I don’t think it’s natural for a human being to be sat at a desk 9-5 5 days a week staring at a screen, so I can understand the need to escape from that point of view. For me, I see travel as an enhancement because I’m in a place where I’m seeing the joy in each day of my life now, and I guess I am lucky enough to have some freedom. To me, travel would be purely making memories with my family. Thanks for sharing. Jade MumLifeandMe

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    • 22 August 2022 at 19:43
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      I love the way you see your travels and actually act that way as well. By following you, I see all the time and effort you put in your family and that is very valuable. It should be a great example to many others out there. Those who are trapped in the 9-5 and feel they are stuck. There’s always a way out, but it might be scary at the beginning. Keep being the inspiration you and your family are. Thanks for your comment.

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  • 17 August 2022 at 14:23
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    I don’t think I’ve every traveled to escape, that sounds like a nice though tough to leave and go to another country and start over. When I was in the military it was because I had to, then it was to visit family, and last few times was to take care of twin after her surgery.

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    • 22 August 2022 at 19:45
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      Thank you Tiffany for your comment and for sharing your experiences. Your reasons to travel had a more deeper connection with what you hold dear and that commands a lot of respect. Starting over is a nice idea, but it also warrants the question of why and what are you closing. I’m learning to look into that now.

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  • 18 August 2022 at 02:32
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    I moved abroad to escape but only realised that years later. Then I only travelled due to work and that took some of the sparks of travelling. I moved back home conscious I had to counteract escapism. I also understood I need wanderlust but my wanderlust is closer to the german origin of the word. That’s something I can do nearby. However, when the going gets tough I find myself wanting to move abroad again 😂 And I travel a lot within my own head. So yes, I agree with your take on travelling. Thanks for sharing and bringing up this topic, excellent work.

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    • 22 August 2022 at 19:48
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      Thank you, Vanessa. Your comments sounds very familiar to me and traveling still feels like a way to escape from it all. But now I also see the adventure in it and learning new things. In my head I’m constantly surprising myself to what plane I’ve taken and where my thoughts will end up. Haha. So I can fully understand that. But I love that. It brings a lot of creativity when directed in the right way.

      Reply

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