It seems that lately the world is full of stories which are about selling your house and choosing the life of a digital nomad in order to travel the world, be free and happy forever. It seems that a lot of people do this and even more people dream about it. They say travel makes you more open, more tolerant, more sensitive to other cultures. Travel makes you better. They say travel saved their relationship, helped curing their broken heart, made them realize what they really want in life or helped them losing weight. And anyway, ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.’ – says the famous quote from Saint Augustine.
Travel is not the thing you are looking for
Travel often seems like the perfect solution. Is it really? Before you continue… yes, we are a travel blog, our passion is travel, we encourage people to travel and we ourselves have travel dreams which are more than enough for a whole life. We see the values. And we are grateful for our opportunities.
But. (There’s always a ‘but’.) But things are not black and white. We are happy to read inspiring stories about how travel has changed someone’s life. We are happy about the honest voices who write not only about their success but also about their struggles to give the full picture. But we are sad to read so many shallow articles about how travel makes you happy. We are sad that it seems the new norm is to break the norm. The point was not to have a norm, wasn’t it?
And we think that travel won’t make you happy. Or rather: it’s not travel what makes you happy. Now let me give a very long explanation. 🙂
Collect memories, not things
There’s this cliche saying ‘Collect memories, not things.’ Because we all know that things won’t make you happy, right? But will memories do? Maybe they are not visible and touchable, but they are also things in many ways. You work for them, you achieve them, you enjoy them. Yes, I forgot: you keep them in your heart forever, right?
But the thing is that no matter how many and how beautiful memories you have in your heart, they are not enough for you to be happy in the present. It’s like remembering of all the romantic walks you had with your partner long years ago while wondering why you are not in love with each other anymore. The answer is simple: you only had those wonderful memories together in the past and you don’t have any in the present. Memories from your travels are the same. They are heartwarming but they are not enough.
It’s never enough
There’s another thing that makes us think memories are just like anything else we collect: we can never get enough of them. You buy a new house, you are proud and happy and whenever you take a look at it you feel on the top of the world. Until you get used to the fact that you have a house and you notice that some people have nicer and bigger houses.
Now the travel scenario. You travel to the Greek islands and you feel that you’ve found paradise. Until you get used to their beauty. Until you see your friends’ pictures from the water bungalows of the Maldives. You go snowshoe hiking to explore the winter beauties of Alberta and you feel that your experience is truly special and it makes you feel happy and special. Until you hear about someone’s snowy adventure in Greenland.
There are people whose passion is to collect things: stamps, paintings, books, cards, cars, whatever. And there are people whose passion is to collect moments. The items on their lists are different, they are places, activities, experiences. But what is common is that it’s also a list and they are passionate about achieving all those things listed.
So why travel won’t make you happy?
People get used to things, places, adventures. That’s how we work. It’s not just us saying this but psychologists also. This is not a publication though so I won’t link researches here (not because I’m just lazy to look them up now… far from that 😛 ). These are our thoughts on travel and happiness. And we are yet to tell the main reason why we think travel won’t make you happy.
Because you can leave everything but yourself at home. Your problems won’t disappear. Your questions won’t be answered. Your goals won’t be clearer. Because in the end it’s you who have to solve your problems, answer your questions and decide what your goals are. Travel can help in this process, but it’s not travel what will solve your problems it could only be you. It’s not travel that gives meaning to your life. Rather you can make your travels meaningful.
The answer is always yourself
Travel can make you a better person, but not necessarily. Again, it depends on you. Bet you already met with travelers who don’t care much about the culture of the country they visit or even about preserving the beauties they enjoy there. Travel is not magic, it can change you if you are open to change. On the other hand, there’s a lot of other things that can change you and make you a better person.
But in the end, it’s you. Are you open or do you resist to change? Do you really want to see the world or do you only want to see what you expect the world should be?
The settling down struggle
We are not full-time travellers and probably we won’t ever be. Travel is a very important part of our lives but not the only one. We need a home, too. It doesn’t mean our home should be the same place for a lifetime, but it should be somewhat permanent. On the other hand, if we have a home, a job, friends and family and a settled down life sometimes it’s easy to think that all the problems what we have could be solved if we would travel even more or we would give up on this settled life entirely. It is just not true.
That doesn’t mean that not settling down is a bad choice. What we want to say is that whether you settle down or not you will have problems. These problems are maybe different but they will be there. And I swear this is the last time I say it but the solution could only be you. Changing your lifestyle can help you to change. But it’s only an opportunity and there’s no guarantee.
What makes us happy then?
We believe that happiness is something which depends on you because long lasting happiness comes from the inside. Things you achieve and special moments you experience can make you feel happy for a while but if you are not happy inside then all these things will fade away. True happiness is deeper in you though. And it seems quite fair to us. Because this is the reason that people all over the world can be happy despite of all the very different conditions and privileges we are born with.
Now these were our thoughts on travel and happiness. What do you think?