This post has been my thoughts for a few weeks. Something that I have wanted to post after recent conversations, and from the people I have met in the last 12 months. Ironically I was going to post it a couple of days back, however due to a bout of anxiety I put it off and stayed away from my blog for a couple days.
There is, from my travelling experience, two types of traveller. This opinion was formed from my experiences as I make my way around the places I have been fortunate enough to visit, and from speaking to people of all walks of life on these journeys. It has really helped me to understand why people travel and that travel isn’t always about having fun in the sun.
The first kind of traveller can be split into two groups. These are business and leisure travellers.
Those wanting to learn.
These are people eager to travel. The ones that are hungry for adventure or personal development. Someone wanting to expand their horizons, become more confident and learn about new cultures. It could also be someone travelling with work, wanting to develop in their career and travelling is a requirement in the role. The common link between the two is that travelling is the gateway to development and new experiences. The learning aspect that drives them to board that plane.
But these aren’t the only people that travel. It isn’t always with high ambitions and the pursuit of fun. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
The escape of pain and misery.
Not everyone that heads to the airport does so with a giant smile on their face as they hand over the passport. Despite the Facebook feed being flooded with messages from family stating how jealous they are, with those all too common ‘is there room in your suitcase for me!?‘ comments, spending a week, or month or even a year abroad isn’t always a guarantee for happiness.
It certainly is an escape from the norm. However what that ‘norm’ is exactly largely determines why that person is travelling. A relatively comfortable existence often results in boredom and the need for adventure. Leaving a boring routine, but not necessarily a miserable life. But for some- and sadly, a fairly large percentage of people- travel is a way to escape. Whether this escape is from people, a place or even themselves, travel is used as a distraction.
I have realised this as I meet new people. Some backpackers have left poisonous relationships or family members. Some have suffered losses of close family or friends and needed to take a break from the pressures of life back home. Some have terminal illnesses and this may be the last time they get to see certain places they have had on the bucket list. The last one in particular hit me hard not too long ago as I checked in a couple into a hotel in Sydney. I asked rather merrily what their reasons for visiting were and the husband stated that his wife was terminally ill and this would be one of their last trips together. I would have had no idea as she looked relatively healthy as she stood there whilst I went through the check in process, and no training can prepare you for such an answer. I decided not to show too much emotion, acknowledged what was said and assured them a great stay with us, and that we would be here 24/7 if they needed anything during their stay. A quick check in, I felt they did not need a reminder of how tragic this situation is for them and their loved ones.
This was just one example of the sad reality of life, and the troubles we all face day to day. Whether it is depression that makes someone feel the need to escape their thoughts and find a way to try and stimulate themselves outside the 9-5, or wanting some alone time to take in some recent news, the view outside of the airplane window isn’t always met with excitement. It can be another chance to escape some kind of suffering.
I would put myself in both of these categories. Since I left the UK for the USA in 2010 on my first trip abroad alone, I have always desired for more travel. I made so many lifetime friends, gained confidence and learned that alone time is great. But then in 2013, my dad died. After this I was drained of any motivation to travel, however I realised that travel helped to keep depression and anxiety at bay with so many new experiences on a daily basis. The motivation to get up and do things can be difficult after such a loss, but because I new what travel was like prior to this, I realised it would be a remedy and a positive distraction from the negative feelings.
I know there are people out there that will benefit from this. Not to forget such an event, but to make the most of the time we have and get out and explore. Knowing so many others are going through similar things, knowing we aren’t alone and having new conversations with new people about similar experiences can be a great therapy. Travel isn’t always filled with happy people smiling 24/7 like their social media portrays. It is a mix of all kinds of people travelling for many different reasons.
And with this, what is your reasons for travelling?
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