“What would you do if you won the lottery?”
One answer that commonly comes up is travel.
And truth be told, working for a travel blog, office conversations naturally find themselves revolving around unforgettable travel experiences – from drinking the most amazing Taiwanese tea, and the best Japanese onsens, to the most electrifying night markets in Southeast Asia.
Photos and videos from our (hard-earned) trips become the trophies and medals we proudly show off to our friends and family, which can come across as an unnecessary subtle flex if you ask me (although I am guilty of it on more than one occasion).
I’ve spent a good long time (here and here) imploring all of you to travel and learn about the world around us – the beauty, the wonder, the history, and the escape. And now, I’m asking an entirely hypocritical but wholly relevant question: are we romanticising travel way too much?
The Idea of Escapism
The first thing that comes to mind for many is the notion that travel is the only way we can escape from our daily lives. The mundanity, the routine, or the stress – all of the bothersome things in our lives can be magically resolved if we pack our bags and jettison off for the holiday we’ve been dreaming about.
Social media has given people today a tool that constantly perpetuates “travel goals” that are pervasive at an unprecedented level. From the beautiful snow-capped mountains of the Alps to the influencer couple on the beaches of Bora Bora, the way people are curating their Instagram feeds have created (unfairly or not) an idea of utopia or happiness that travel exudes, and only travel can give.
In this age, it’s normal, and even an underlying expectation that you should want/yearn to travel as the ultimate goal. The wanderlust will never go away, in fact it’s deeply rooted as a factor in how we seek social validation.
At this point you’re probably asking what’s the harm if someone wants to travel to unwind from the daily stress that overwhelms so many of us. And truthfully, there isn’t anything wrong with that.
What I’m blabbering on about is the idea that escapism and self-reflection, and the general notion of “finding yourself” can only be done through exploring the world in a foreign land. This has resulted in us believing that we can only elicit great change in ourselves if we explore the untainted and exotic.
The Reality Of Travel
After a holiday spent overseas, the first day back in office is always the worst. Work piles up but your heart longs for the soft hotel bed, and you start to wonder when your next escapade will be, and the cycle continues.
Travel is a means, and hardly ever an end. Traverse the grand landscape mountains of New Zealand or the park near your home, and you’re still you. The issues you’re dealing with, the bottlenecks you so desperately want to break through, won’t remain overseas; they’ll follow you as you return home, however refreshed you feel.
Great change comes from within, and the inner journeys that follow. There is no denying that the world is indeed a boundless wonder, and perhaps one needs several lifetimes to fully explore every nook and cranny out there.
But the wonder and joy of seeing vast foreign lands are fleeting, and that’s why so many people chase it, to be able to grasp hold of that feeling they once felt.
Travelling can certainly be enriching, fulfilling, and definitely awe-inspiring, but it’s not everything. The breakthroughs you achieve in far-flung lands can equally be done at home. But man, what can you do when it’s infinitely more pretty.
Ah, such is the allure of travel.