Long-Term Travel: What’s the Point?

I ask a lot of questions as we travel. It’s how I learn. I love to ask fellow travelers about their dreams and their passions and watch their eyes light up.

The question I most like to ask is, “Why?”

Why are you passionate about that? Why do you travel?

To me, a person’s “Why?” is like a window into their soul. The answer they give is often the most inspiring two minutes of my day, as they cut to the chase on what really matters most in life, and I find myself nodding my head in agreement.

Recently I asked a couple hundred travelers about their “Why,” and the response was overwhelming; so much so that I’m going to do a series of these posts in the coming months.

Here are a dozen answers to the question:

“Why do you travel?”

mountain view

“Basically, I’ve always wanted to spend my life traveling, and after decades of working in trauma, intensive care, and hospice I decided I was going to live my life without regrets. So I decided to do what I’ve always wanted to do. What keeps me going is the constant thrill of exploring new places, seeing new sights, meeting new people, absorbing new cultures and foods, and so on. I’m also doing this for my son. I didn’t want him raised in the typical myopic and consumerist culture of the US. I wanted him to feel a deeper connection with other peoples. When he shares memories of places with me or with others, or when we’re walking through a historic area and he says, ‘These buildings look like they’re 15th century,’ those keep me going as well.” – Talon Windwalker of 1dad1kid.com

I’m also doing this for my son. I didn’t want him raised in the typical myopic and consumerist culture of the US. I wanted him to feel a deeper connection with other peoples.

“I am an experience junkie – I want to experience everything the world has to offer! I always had itchy feet and the more I scratch them, the itchier they get! The world is an amazing place, and now that I have kids, I want them to experience that, too.” – Sharon Gourlay of Wheressharon.com

“I can’t imagine not traveling. I love meeting new people, challenging myself, getting my head around new cultures, understanding their dance (dance and cycling are my big things). I’ve always been fascinated by extremes and how people deal with and adopt them, and I seek them out, wherever they are. Whether these are extremes of creativity, community of culture, and whether they are physical or mental is less important to me than that they are experienced. Then, when back, I see my home with new eyes too, and am better able to understand other dancers along with their subcultures, historical, geopolitical and cultural influences, too.” – Carole Edrich of Dance Tog Blog

“I travel because I can’t not travel. In fact, the thought of staying in one place scares me. Growing up I knew that I wanted to see the world, and while my friends dreamed of making lots of money and settling down with their boyfriends, I was completely uninterested in living in New Zealand. I know travel makes me a better person, and I feel like I’ve become so much more open-minded and confident as a result of traveling and living overseas. While at times it can be challenging, it’s all worth it when I arrive at a new destination that’s just waiting to be explored.” – Stacey Kuyf of onetravelsfar.com

I feel like I’ve become so much more open-minded and confident as a result of traveling and living overseas.

“My family instilled a love of travel at a very young age. I am a curious person and travel because I love to learn. The world is a fascinating place! Every trip adds to my world view and changes who I am in some small way. The challenges make you grow as a person- you become more understanding, accepting, knowledgeable, and believe in yourself as you overcome certain challenges you face on the road.” – Rhonda Krause of travelyesplease.com

“Put simply…because I feel more at home when I’m exploring the world beyond it. I realised after my first trip outside Australia (to Canada) that there were many different ways to live life, to think, to act. Being outside my comfort zone energises me and living a life dominated by travel lets me be who I want to be.” – Kellie Netherwood of mydestinationunknown.com

Beach

“I want to live life by my own rules. See stuff for myself, decide for myself, live for myself. Traveling is one of the best ways to see the world, its people, and its fascinations.” – Chris Backe of oneweirdglobe.com

“The urge to to travel hit me in college. I lived on a busy street that was lined with fast food restaurants. I was looking through my window and it hit me that there had to be something more out there. At that moment I decided to study abroad. About four months later I was in England. Now I’m hooked.” – James ‘Dr. Huxtable’ Feess of thesavvybackpacker.com

 I was looking through my window and it hit me that there had to be something more out there.

“I travel because it’s an escape from my every day life. The 9-to-5 (more like 8-to-7) grind of a full time job, keeping up with a mortgage and all the things that life requires. It allows my husband and I to escape to an alternative reality and see what it would be like to be beach bums in Barbados, ski bunnies in Vermont, or nomads in Florence. Simply put: travel is an escape.” – Christina Tuff Saull of myviewfromthemiddleseat.com

“I was never actually too interested in traveling growing up, but after planning out every aspect of my life in Brisbane and most of it falling apart, I decided I needed a shake up by moving to Mexico. After that I fell in love with the unknown and began to despise routine and just kept traveling. I know I’ll have to go back home and adjust to real life one day, but until then I’ll just keep grabbing life by the balls.” – Ally Forrest of thesunsetdiaries.com

“Life is about expanding your horizons, and what better way to achieve this than by traveling the world? I was brought up to be independent, and I think this has a direct relationship with my desire to explore the world. Meeting Heather and having someone else who loves to travel just enhances the overall experience.” – Chris Boothman of abritandasoutherner.com

Life is about expanding your horizons, and what better way to achieve this than by traveling the world?

“The first time I traveled to get it out of my system. Subsequent travels have been because I can’t.” – Nancy Mueller of wanderlustandlipstick.com

So, what about you? Why do YOU travel?

Read more about finding your why:

manifesto - defining your values Photo credits: breedingfraSonny Side Up!

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  • Tiffany Turner Fite said at 2014-03-05T22:36:17+0000: Why do I travel? To experience contrast to my usual. Such as: the juxtaposition of 21st century life inside 13th century castle walls in Conwy, Wales; stunning graffiti art gardens, seen only from the train in Eugene, Oregon; Disney-esque scenes from snorkel goggles over a reef; Parisian sidewalks full of toddlers riding scooters to preschool; stark class division on Washington D.C. Metro trains; vomit and urine crusted alleys in Dublin's pub district; slot canyons and powdery moon-like landscapes in Nevada; cowboy storytelling and poetry jams in Wyoming. Even taking new back roads instead of the highway commute allows me to glimpse into the lives of others regularly. Filling my consciousness with 5-year old awe is the best feeling ever.
  • Lynne James said at 2014-03-05T22:18:00+0000: To see and experience all the things I can't see and experience at home - beauty, art, history, architecture, and above all a different attitude to life in general.
  • Scott Hartman said at 2014-03-05T21:14:12+0000: For me, it started with adventure, to be a member of a whitewater rafting expedition to Peru, to attempt a river that had never been run, to go to a place on the map that was literally, white. And then, after the trip, to Machu Picchu when everything started to change. My friend and I slept in our bags in the parking lot on top (this was in '79) and woke up long before the site was open and no one there to tell us we could or couldn't enter. My first view of it, well before sunrise, just knocked me down. I actually had to sit. I had no idea why, and really still don't. But in a way, I guess that's why I go. As Annie Dillard wrote in "Teaching a Stone to Talk"/'In the Jungle': The point of going somewhere like the Napo River in Ecuador is not to see the most spectacular anything. It is simply to see what is there. We are here on this planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place. We might as well get a feel for the fringes and hollows in which life is lived . . . " I was a curious child, and remain a curious (metaphorically and real) adult . . .
  • Adam Groffman said at 2014-03-06T11:43:50+0000: I wrote about this same topic a while ago and came up with a handful of reasons why I travel: http://travelsofadam.com/2012/09/why-do-people-travel/For me, I travel to learn, to try new things, to visit people (new and old friends) and to eat new foods.