If travel is a person, what does it want from you?
“Money”. Perhaps you’d say with no mental effort.
Well, I would be mendacious if I disagree. You need money for travel. In fact, long before you complete your itinerary, you’d have to pay for plane tickets or make reservations that require payments in advance.
BUT is it just about money?
WHAT TRAVEL IS ALL ABOUT
So why do you travel?
Do you travel for luxury?
Do you collect instant “pogi” points when you brag about your recent adventure?
Do you want healing?
Do you want to flaunt your OOTD with heritage sites on your background?
Do you want to overcome your fears? Challenge yourself?
Do you want to meet new friends?
Or meet silence?
The reasons are many but the great question is, are you traveling for the right reason?
While most travelers are on the way to finish their ‘epic journey’, some still get stuck in the planning and worse, get discouraged by the idea that travel is for the ‘rich and famous’… They are misled. It is LUXURY TRAVEL that is for the rich and famous. If you take out luxury in travel, it’s still travel but only different. And traveling differently doesn’t make your travel any less valuable. So if you doubt you can have inexpensive but enriching travel, think again.
You’ve read tons of articles about why you should travel, why it’s good for you, why you should do it now and some even encourage you to quit your day job and backpack the world. Yes. It sounds inviting. And I’m in no way stopping you. But hold that thought for a moment and fairly ask yourself, “Am I prepared enough?”
WHAT TRAVEL WANTS FROM YOU
Let’s say you have the right reasons to travel and you are ready. Another important thought to consider is what travel REALLY wants from you.
- Travel wants your awareness
Travel offers you a place to meet a diversity of people with a diversity of culture. It wants you to be aware of these differences and develop a more accepting attitude. With your awareness you can eliminate prejudices and stereotypes that hinder genuine social connection.
Also, travel showcases the unparalleled beauty of our world. Travel wants you to be aware of this. To make it a driving force to seek more adventure, to look forward to another day, to never lose interest.
- Travel wants your desire for meaning
If you desire for the superficial, you would be content to just visit a place, take pictures and afterwards leave. But if you desire for meaning, you can be motivated to interact with the local people—observe them, learn about their ways and their useful qualities as well as share your own learning.
If you desire for meaning, you can turn your travel into a life-changing experience and provide a positive impact to the world.
The historian Mary Ritter Beard puts it more beautifully: “Indeed, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
- Travel wants your appreciation for humanity
How many people are guilty of not wanting to talk to someone they feel different from them? Maybe different in terms of physical features, or of a different race, or social status, or religion?
Love and kindness. These are among the powerful values that lie within each person no matter where he or she is from. It may seem that people don’t have these values because they are passive or tired or shy or even frustrated. But travel has a way of showing you, they actually do.
I remember when I traveled to Japan for the first time. Before going there my stereotype was that Japanese are indifferent, hence I expected little to no help. I thought it would really be impossible to have a conversation with them knowing they are reluctant to speak in English. But I’m glad I was wrong. Many times was I helped by random strangers who spoke NO-EIGO. With their body language, they helped me find my way or taught me how to properly use some stuff.
In Kota Kinabalu, I met a taxi driver who was considerate enough to accept my Philippine coins because I told him I ran out of cash. Another cab driver from Malé restored my faith in humanity when he returned my change after I mistakenly paid more than my fare. A small diner owner in the same city agreed to keep our huge suitcases and looked after them while we tried to secure our ferry tickets. He refused to accept our pay.
Travel shows that there is never a scarcity of kind-hearted people. And with this, travel wants your appreciation. How do you appreciate a good deed? You return the favor. You pay it forward. You try to do simple acts of kindness or be the spark of kindness that our world greatly needs.
It’s one thing to know what you want for your travel, it’s another thing to know what travel wants from you. You can have your own motives for your travel and achieve such motives, but not always to its full potential.
Travel wants your awareness, your desire for meaning, and your appreciation for humanity. With these attributes, you are able to generate empathy and stronger connection to the world, thus become a better human being in a better world.
Thirty years from now, if you are of my age, you’d be retiring from work. By then, you will have lost excuses to NOT travel. But who knows how long you are here for? Travel now. Travel next month, or travel next year. It’s definitely on your terms. But as soon as you finish your itinerary, and list what you want from your travel, take equal time to contemplate on what travel wants…
Travel may want something from you but it never imposes. Like love, it will only reach its culmination if it’s requited. Final question is, are you willing to reciprocate?