“Not all those who wander are lost”, says the line from Tolkien and it’s quite a popular thing to quote among travellers.
However it often feels like travel should be the answer for all those who are actually lost. If you don’t know what to do with your life, go travelling for a year before applying to university. If you can’t find your place after you finished your studies, go travelling until you figure it out. If you feel stressed, stucked or desperate about your life, go travelling to find your balance in an Indian ashram. If your relationship starts to become boring, go on an adventurous trip with your partner.
Travel is not the answer
These are the typical kind of advice. So typical that we can’t stand but react with another good old cliche: life is just more complicated than that. There’s no cure that will magically fix all the problems in your life. Travel is not meant to do that either. Guess who then? Yes, it’s the answer we usually hate to hear: ourselves.
It’s not to say that travel can’t enrich your lives. Or broaden your perspective. Or inspire you. But it matters how you travel and that depends on who you are and what you want (other than figuring out what you want…). We think that it’s life itself that’s enriching and inspiring, and it’s up to you to notice it and grow. Travel can help you realizing it, because travel means change. A different country, culture, climate, timezone. Different landscapes, plants, animals, people. It’s a chance, but it’s up to you whether you take that chance.
But travelling to find your answers has its risks, as well. Though travel may not fix your problems, it can make you forget about them. At least for a while. As long as you keep on travelling and getting new experiences and fresh sparkles every day. If you stop travelling, you feel empty again. Travel is not your solution, but your escape.
Travel is not your only chance to change and grow though. It could be a book. A movie. A new routine. A conversation. A failure. Anything can inspire change if you are open and ready for change. Some things can push you to change harder than others. But it’s not necessarily the wild parties in Southeast Asia.
The other good thing is that you don’t actually need to run until the end of the world to get inspired by travel. You can explore the treasures of your own backyard. You can go hiking in the nearby mountains. You can join meetup groups. You can visit local museums. You can host travellers in your home. It’s not price and distance that makes a travel experience unique and fulfilling.
Getting lost and finding the way
Travel is not the answer but it can be the way. It’s just important to realize that you can leave everything but yourself at home. Your problems will stay with you. You might be more free but also more vulnerable. You might throw your boring 9-5 life out of the window for a while, but it’s up to you to fill the emptiness with something meaningful.
Because travel won’t show you the meaning of life. It won’t give your life a meaning either. That’s your job. While travelling is wonderful and powerful, it’s not travelling that makes your life fulfilling. It’s an addition to an already fulfilling life. Otherwise it’s nothing more than an escape. Maybe an enjoyable one.
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