As humans, we have a tendency to believe that we alone know the correct path to take. As if we somehow possess more knowledge than our cohorts about the complications of life, and our advice reigns supreme. This concept, I believe, manifests itself every day on my newsfeed in the form of Buzzfeed articles. Articles that as of late are driving me nuts (perhaps because of their frequency on my timeline) are titled something along the lines of, “Why You Have to Travel in Your Twenties,” or the lovely counterpart, “Why Traveling In Your Twenties Will Ruin Your Life.”
Before I divulge my annoyances with these articles and the philosophy behind them, let me state that I am without a doubt an unapologetic lover and desperate purser of travel. Although I started living out my passions later than I’d like to admit, I spent nearly my whole childhood dreaming up all the amazing things I would see in tiny random corners of the world. I stalked travel as if she was the last thing worth living for and my life force depended on her energy. I’ve seen so many pictures of hot air balloons over a Turkish skyline that I swear I have already been there and felt the hot air on my face. Growing up I watched those promotional Disney VHS tapes so obsessively (someone else must remember those too, right?!) that I broke the tapes from rewinding them too much.
So, I’ll be the first to admit that I believe in the power and life giving ability of travel and adventure, but on one’s own terms, and out of personal desire. The problem with these “Travel or Die” articles is that they presume there is something innately magical about travel. Although I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always managed to find something magical even in the bleakest of travel experiences, I can tell you there is nothing magical about a traveler in the middle of the most amazing city, surrounded by immense culture, who does not want to be there. Maybe they hate the food, can’t get past the language barrier, and can’t find a working toilette. Maybe they simply aren’t ready for the culture shock that so often comes with travel. Regardless, that traveler is not feeling the giddy feeling I get when people I’ve never known surround me and I am eating food I’ve never eaten. Instead they’re wondering why the hell they spent $2,000 on a plane ticket to India after feeling bamboozled into traveling by a Buzzfeed article.
You may be thinking I am being hypocritical since my opening statement was an assault on pushy advice givers, and here I am giving advice. But my advice is simply this: do not take any advice. If you don’t want to travel, then don’t. If you need to get the hell out of Dodge, buy yourself a one-way ticket. So many of my friends and family members at home have expressed love for my travel updates, and while many of them would love to visit some of the places I’ve been, many of them feel equally happy to just read about it and look at some pictures. So the hypocritical advice I will leave you with is to do what you want. Read about my travels, create your own, do both. Love travel, hate it, crave cheeseburgers too much to leave the USA, do what makes you feel fulfilled. As for me, well Susan Sontag said it best when she said, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”.