The other day I read an article blaming those who like to talk about how important traveling is as “classist." The farther I got into this article, the more upset I got. How dare this person tell me I shouldn’t talk about something I love because she’s seemingly jealous? No, she did not say jealous, but as I read her story about being a young child embarrassed she hadn’t gone anywhere over summer, I realized I was that kid too. I was that kid who went to the same place every year because we didn’t have money to go anywhere else. I was the kid who proudly talked about our trips to Maine while other kids talked about their trips to Maine as a side exertion, a simple addition to their summer. Their big adventures seemed to be cruises in the Bahamas. My trip to Maine was better though. My trips to Maine were better than their trips to the Bahamas because we flew kites on a really windy day. We rode around in a tractor. We played on the swings all day. We stayed with friends and everyone else stayed in hotels.
That’s what traveling is about. If this person doesn’t get that, I can’t make them. Traveling isn’t about the creature comforts you experience. It’s not about the fancy hotels, the museum trips or the expensive meals eaten. That’s being a tourist.
Traveling is so much more. Traveling is leaving without a plan. Traveling is waking up and walking around until you find a little coffee shop, it’s about wandering around beautiful cities climbing to the highest free point to get a good view. It’s about talking to people you wouldn’t get the chance to talk to at home. It’s about learning to appreciate what exists around you and enjoying the moment that you are in.
Travel isn’t about privileges, luxuries, or where you have been. It’s about listening to other people’s stories and experiences and sharing your own. It’s not about how many hours from home you were.
And one last thing: you, author of the article, are living in a privileged society. You are not living in a third world country. You are not unemployed. You are perfectly capable of saving $100 and going on a three day trip. However, until you learn it’s about adventure and not a rat race, you’ll never enjoy it. You’ll never get why we travel, and for you, it won’t even be worth the money.
Travel isn’t about doing everything. Travel is about being completely present in this world. Travel is the experience, not the Instagram photos.