The other night while my boyfriend and I were planning a road trip to Tennessee, he said that he feels like the time between trips for me is filler because the only thing that matters are the places I’ll be traveling to next. It was far from the first time I had to explain my wanderlust. One of my main motivations in life is seeing as much of the world as I possibly can in the short time I spend on this Earth and that’s strange to a lot of people.
Many people incorrectly associate this obsessive desire to travel with unhappiness. I’m not unhappy with my “regular” life. I love the life I lead on a daily basis. I love and enjoy the people I spend time with, and I love what I do. When I’m not traveling, I’m not checked out of everything else. I work hard, I enjoy myself, and I constantly do the things that make me happy. That’s also why I travel, because it makes me happy. The further we venture into adulthood, the less time we have for those things we love: whether it’s watching movies, playing music, painting, or reading. For me, it’s travel and seeing the world, experiencing different cultures, and having opportunities to do things I could never do back home.
I seize every available moment I have to travel because it’s the only way that I feel like I’m living my life the way I want to lead it. We have a very limited amount of time to make our mark on this world and live a life that makes us happy. Some lives are unexpectedly cut short. If I were to die tomorrow, with barely a third of my life under my belt, I could honestly say that I lived the life I wanted to live. I never waited for the right opportunity to travel somewhere new; I created those opportunities several times every year for all of my adult life. I didn’t wait until it was too late or let myself get too busy. I’ve prioritized travel my whole life and I continue to do so every day. My tenacity has been rewarded with countless once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I got to drink a liter of beer in Germany and see the Pope deliver mass in Rome. I walked through the electric streets of Tokyo and the busy markets of Morocco. I’ve seen the sun set in Greece and watched the northern lights dance in the sky in Iceland. I’ve sailed, flown, hiked, and I’ve fallen in love a thousand times with each new place.
I travel because it teaches me more than I could ever learn in a book. I like to immerse myself in other cultures and let them change me. I like to drink coffee the way the locals take it. I like to see different governments in action in other places. I like to watch people pray to a different God than mine. I like to eat things that I would never see on a menu back home. Every place I go teaches me something valuable. In many ways, it puts me in my place. When I think I know the best way to do something, I go somewhere new and find out that I’ve been doing it wrong my whole life. You’re never going to learn those things in school. You have to see the world and find out for yourself.
I don’t travel because I’m unhappy or running away from my life. On the contrary, I travel to live. Because there’s more to life than what you do Monday through Fridays between 9 and 5. It’s out there on a 28 hour flight to Thailand, on a zipline in Costa Rica, and on the highway to Tennessee.