Friday, 2 August 2013

Travel, and Keeping Up With The Joneses

When writing my Thailand posts (Chiang Mai and Pai, one on Bangkok is still to come), I got thinking about travelling.

It's kind of the done thing now, isn't it? It's almost expected of people, and you're thought to be a bit odd if you don't do it. People finish school, and go gallivanting around the world. Or in their summer breaks from university. Or when they finished university and decided that joining the real world was a bit much.

(I sound bitter here. I'm not.)

Instead of travelling, I worked the whole way through my gap year (mostly because it was an unintentional gap year as a result of starting at uni, hating life there, and coming home after six weeks). I worked in each of my summer breaks. And I walked straight into a job after I finished university. In some ways, the fact I've constantly worked has been a massive, massive benefit. It meant I could afford to fly backwards and forwards to see my now-ex, could afford to buy my cars, and it meant I had no issues with finding employment as a graduate. 

Morocco... mmm. Image from here
I think there's far too much pressure on people to travel young. To go to the Full Moon Party, and drink on Bondi Beach, and "find yourself" in Bolivia. I think people of our age are essentially brainwashed into thinking that we MUST go and travel and do all these things right this very second. I felt like such a failure when I started university without having spent my gap year running around the world. But let's be honest- when I came back from university in October of 2008, I could barely choose what to eat when I went out for supper, let alone what to do in the big wide world.

Going to Thailand really reiterated this to me. When I got back, my brother asked about what we'd done and went "Al, you went flashpacking!"- and it's true, we did. We came across a lot of people travelling for three, four, six months when we were out there- and both of us said that we could think of few things we wanted to do less than spend six months slumming in cheap hostels. In fact, this has never been something I've had any desire to do.

What I'm trying to say, is that you don't have to do everything now. It's perfectly acceptable to wait until you can afford to travel nicely- which is exactly what I've done. I've decided that what matters isn't what everyone else is doing, and where they're going. What matters is what I want to be doing, and where want to be going and when I want to do it. Keeping up with the Joneses is all well and good, for some people, but I don't want to be forced into doing all of this just because everyone else is. I have a huge list of places I want to go- but I also have the rest of my life in which to see them. I'm not the sort of person who goes to the same place twice. So why on earth would I want to go everywhere now? I'll have nothing to do when I'm 50!

I just wanted to get this out there. Because while I like going to new places and exploring, and would very much like to run away to France for a while, I just wanted to say that it's perfectly acceptable to not do this. 

Travelling is a privilege. It isn't a necessity. Do whatever the hell you want. Because let's be honest- is there anything more annoying that a conversation with somewhere where you say something and their every response is "Oh yeah, when I was in [insert country name here], we did something completely unrelated to your story...."?!

Yeah, I could see myself here... Image source


  1. i felt the urge to travel too when i was in college. but i was like you. i've been working since my 2nd year in college, so i always work(ed) from way back then. i barely have time to travel for vacation. but i'm grateful that i have the job that i really love and it requires me to travel too. it's kind of win-win term.

  2. I felt the need to follow the crowd after graduating and travel so off I trotted to Uganda to volunteer for 6 weeks. I loved it out there, but it was enough for me and I wouldn't change my life now. I have a secure job, a home and a solid relationship that I wouldn't have had if I had galavanted for months. As much as we love our holidays, I think we can save the long travelling for retirement ;) x
    Heather x

  3. I've never really considered myself to be English, I always tell people "Oh, but I'm half Scottish, and a quarter Italian..." and I always thought I would travel the world and find somewhere that I would truly feel was 'home'. Of course, you can never tell what will happen in life, and now I have a little boy. I still want to travel, and I'm determined to take him on cultural holidays, not a week to Salou or whatever. It's a strange thing, travelling. When you've got your whole life ahead of you, why do everything when you're 18?

    Bit of a miss-mash of a comment, but I just felt I needed to say something haha!

  4. I think the comic ecard says it all:
    "May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook".
    Australia doesn't do a Gap Year and everywhere is so gosh darn far away so travelling still seems a big deal for us. I totally agree with you, I would much rather save up and wait to do something properly (with a solid, non-zippable roof over my head)!!! Xx


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