Why Travel Will Always Be On the Top of Everyone’s Wish List

Explore your own higher latitudes. Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but thought. – Henry David Thoreau

What do we want when we travel? What are we seeking when we hop on board a bus, train or plane to a destination far away from home?

Is home a foreign concept to you now? Home is supposed to be where you are comfortable in, where you feel relaxed, where your friends or family is at, where you most relate to, etc. Right?

Then why do I feel restless? Why do I yearn to travel, to see the world? Why do I dream about faraway countries with new cultures, new languages, new foods, new people, new lifestyles?

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d probably end up as a foreign diplomat or interpreter. I got close, though, working for a law firm in downtown Chicago as an acting attorney-client Chinese translator during my college years as well as interning for a U.S.-Sino economic and trade relations firm in Beijing, China.

Life is interesting. There’s no one real path to a surefire happy life. You must journey through the ends of the earth and back, and still then, you may not find what you were looking for all along.

What You Are Looking For

All along, what you are seeking is not a treasure trove of places, sights, historical markers to say you’ve been there, seen that.

What you are looking for, in reality, is yourself.

You want to know more about yourself. What makes you tick? What causes you to turn a blind eye? What makes you so ignorant of others? What makes you laugh out loud until tears start coming out uncontrollably? What makes you cry out in despair at the travesties in this world? What makes you seek the truth?

I’m Heading Overseas

That is why I’ve quit my day job and am heading overseas.

Destination? At first glance, it’ll be Taiwan (Republic of China). But I’ll also take some time to explore other cities and countries.

As you can imagine, I’m ecstatic. No, I’m not scared of traveling by myself nor am I excessively weary of travel dangers. Dangers lurk within your very home and neighborhood, not necessarily in far away countries.

Just think, in such countries you deem as dangerous or unsafe, they are thinking the same thing as us.

Ignorance is not bliss and I will not have a life where I am safely tucked away in one corner of the earth, but never knowing a whole new world exists right outside my front steps.

I hope you don’t want such a life as well but only you can be truthful and honest about that.

Travel is always one of the top things spewed out of someone’s mouth when asked what would you do if you had more time, more money, less work, less responsibilities, etc.?

Fact is, it is not more time we need. It is not more money. It is not even less work. And it’s also not less responsibilities.

We’re not looking to necessarily escape our lives. We’re looking to find it.

5 Reasons Why Travel Will Always Be On the Top of Your Wish List:

1. A Whole New World, A Whole New Experience. You can only experience so many Saturday night movies at the theater, following an afternoon stroll through the huge mall, shopping for things you don’t need and eating foods your body doesn’t want. Your life has become a rerun. It’s repeating itself, week after week, month after month.

You then start to think, is this all there is to it? Life? We crawl, walk, run, then we run, walk, crawl, die? Everything in between is just what you have to do? What you’re “supposed” to do?

Well, let me tell you something. Life never has its cure-all handbook and those who claim there is such a thing does not realize life cannot be contained within a few hundred pages of ink on dead trees.

You want new experiences? You have to venture beyond your couch watching lives play out in fantasy-reality that is TV and walk outside your door. It’s a brazen new world out there, beyond the mediocre comforts of your own home.

2. People Want to Escape. People say they are taking a vacation because what they really want is a quick escape from their dreadful life they are currently living (but not really living, merely sustaining). They want relief from it all, and they will stop at nothing until they have it.

Whether that relief comes in the form of hot, topless and tan Brazilian girls on the beaches of Rio De Janiero or sexy, seductive and dark men in Costa Rica, you want it, badly.

So you end up gorging on a vacation-binge, drinking even more than you normally do on the weekends following a deadening week at the office, possibly doing illicit drugs and engaging in illicit activities with people you’ve only known for 2 hours at the all-night bonfire beach party.

In the end, you just want to escape. But 2 weeks out of an entire year is not enough to quench your parched self. You long to go out there, to experience, to live, to feel alive. But yet here you are. Stuck. Trapped. Belittled and betrayed.

You want an escape. Perhaps travel can be that outlet. But if you don’t handle the inner demons of your own self, tending to the frightened child that used to be your strong, determined dream, no matter where you travel, your thirst will never be quenched. The demons will end up handling you and you will feel incredibly dirty, ashamed, guilty and rejected.

3. New Places Seem So Exotic. It’s like a fantasy come true. You see beautiful cities with even more beautiful men and women strolling the well-worn brick paths, breathtaking landmarks and ancient villages in brochures and pamphlets, all enticing you to come swing by that side of the world to experience it all.

And you have it in your mind that this new place IS exotic. Well, it has to be, right? The pictures and brochures all say it is.

So then you go there. You realize 2 things: 1) Either it was never as exotic as you imagined it to be, or 2) It was way more enticing and alluring than you’ve given credit for. You hope for the latter.

But hoping won’t make it a reality. The reality is, you want something different from your life, even momentarily. So you book the next direct flight to Shanghai and experience the lively culture that is completely modernized and as hip and trendy as LA, New York, Chicago, London or Paris.

You then realize, hey, this place is exotic alright, but there’s an eerie realization that we are all just living in one big pool. You’re on the other side of the pool but we’re all in the same water. You speak a different language and eat different foods but that doesn’t change the fact we’re all still in the same damn water.

New places seem exotic but that’s only because we haven’t been there. Once you go there, you realize, the people there also want to live a beautiful and meaningful life too. As much as you want for yourself.

4. You Want to Diversify Your Travels and Be Cultured. They say those who don’t leave their hometown or home state/province are the first ones to judge the world harshly and thus, to judge others harshly. They think the outside world is far more dangerous than the one they live in, so they don’t even bother to venture in new plains. But it is not for a lack of wanting to be cultured and sophisticated and say you’ve been to Istanbul, Amsterdam, Santiago, Kyoto or Dubai. It is for the lack of open-mindedness.

You want diversity? Don’t live in the suburbs. Live in a bustling community that is not concerned with the color of your skin, the median household income you have, the car you drive or the house you live in. Live in a community where differences are accepted, lifestyles are celebrated and the world is your oyster. Not necessarily a physical city or block. But the world.

Diversifying your travels can lead you to places where you may end up falling in love with the place you’ve stepped foot in (or falling madly in love with a dreamy local who whispers sweet nothings in your ear all night long, whichever comes first). You don’t want to leave because you now realize it is your heart that has intertwined itself with the people, the culture, the heritage that draws you in.

Traveling for the sake of traveling can be fun. But don’t do it if you’re only looking to stack a list of countries and places you’ve been to on your wall of trophies. A number is a number is a number. It is the experience at the place you dwell, even for a brief moment in the history of your life, that is the most valuable and treasured.

5. You Don’t Want to Wait Until You Retire to Travel, You Want to Do It Now. You honestly tell yourself that oh, you’ll find more time to travel after you bust your ass off, working overtime, long months, longer years, so that you can amass an unimaginable amount of money that really need not be that amount in order to get on a plane and travel today.

If the places you visit are developing or not first-world countries, then by far your currency can stretch out much longer than if you just stayed exactly where you’re at.

For instance, when I lived in Beijing, one to two US dollars afforded me an entire day’s worth of meals and they weren’t necessarily small meals either. From freshly steamed pork and vegetable buns on the corner bun shop, to a 24-hour noodle joint catering to late birds such as us American students, to homemade dumplings at the street market that would make my grandmother proud, less than two US dollars went a long, long way. It not only filled my stomach, it helped fill my heart with experience that no amount of sitting on my ass at home could give me.

It was then I realized that I could actually live abroad. Though at that time, I had to come back to the States to finish my college education, this thought never left my mind. Hence why I’m heading back overseas in just a month’s time.

I do not seek to find happiness there, necessarily. For it is not for the purposes of arriving at a particular destination that will afford me happiness, nor arriving at a particular goal. If I am not happy now in Chicago, I will not be happy in Taiwan. The purpose of it all is to experience. To live life courageously out there, going wherever the wind blows, as free as one spirit can be.

So Here’s My Pressing Question to You:

Why do you travel? Why is it on the top of your wish list? What makes you come alive through traveling that nothing else can bring?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Perhaps it will also give others the extra push to start integrating more travels, and therefore, more experiences, into their lives.

Related Reading I Recommend:

1. Rolf Potts’ classic book . Rolf does an amazing job outlining the real reasons why we travel and not just travel for travel’s sake. It is the purity of truth that we discover when we become a vagabond. A vagabond is one who travels to not escape in order to lounge around in European hostels hanging out and getting wasted with like-minded travelers. Rather, they are truly seeking what it means to be one with the world and subsequently, becoming one with yourself.

2. The insanely beautifully and poignantly written articles in the Travel & Life Lessons category on Ashley Ambirge’s blog The Middle Finger Project. Her writing has made me cry. It is that powerful. God, how I love writing and the written word. It makes me feel things that I can’t describe (ironic, huh?). I love this woman. She is inspirational beyond belief. Just read any of her posts and tell me it doesn’t make you smile (and laugh uproariously, and spit your coffee out, and dance wildly, and have exotic love affairs, and …).

3. Chris Guillebeau’s Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel Around the World. Chris is on a fervent mission. He’s traveling the world. And not just one part of the world, maybe somewhere ‘safe’ like England. He’s traveling the entire globe, all 192 countries of it. Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel Around the World is a popular post for trumping the day job and giving traveling your top priority. You can also read my interview with Chris Guillebeau here. What a great guy. Truly.

4. Colin Wright’s Why You Should Stop Not Traveling. Colin is another kindred spirit, a true modern-day flashpacker and philosopher, infused with bits of Stoicism, Capitalism, Objectivism and 100% Humanism. He’s a true traveler by heart. Watch the exclusive video of Colin during an interview I had with him here. Another person I can call my friend. Amazing.

5. Everett Bogue’s The Whole World Is Our Home, In A Lot Of Ways. The world is expanding. Maybe not physically but in theory. We are expanding. The possibilities are opening up in ways unimaginable, even just 10 years ago. Things are changing at a rapid pace. Everett explores some of these changes in his post The Whole World Is Our Home, In A Lot Of Ways. Read my interview with Everett, a fellow minimalist freedom fighter, here. This guy is rockin’ it – his way. Watch his video interview on ebookling here and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

6. A Cup of Coffee With Miss Minimalist. Francine Jay, author of Amazon’s Best Books of 2010 , shares simple advice on traveling lightly, in an exclusive interview with me. She is a beautiful woman with a positive, light-hearted approach to life. She loves minimalism and that love is very apparent in her blog Miss Minimalist.

7. The Art of the Start. An oldie but goodie. Revisit why The Art of the Start is so difficult for most people and the 4 things to keep in mind regarding starting anything (including traveling).

I have some of the most amazing friends (as you can see from above). You guys and gals are so incredibly wonderful. Many of you (I’m also talking about you, the reader!) have encouraged me beyond measure to get through the difficult times in life and have watched me take the leap by quitting my day job and now off to travel the world. Rest assured, I read your endearing comments and e-mails and you’ve all been just fantastic. Thank you.


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