This Is Why You Shouldn’t Travel

Ali V.
Ali V.

I have compared myself to other people for as long as I can remember.

Social media gives us everything we need to create a highlight reel of our lives – something colorful. Only the interesting parts. Only the latte art and the view at the top of the mountain on a sunny day. It’s not normal to broadcast heartbreak or the twenty minutes you spent in the bathroom stall on your phone at the job you don’t care about, killing time.

I have been inspired by travel bloggers. So much, in fact, that a year and half ago, I started my own blog. But what I admire most is people who are telling their truth, who are real, who are explaining that it isn’t always fun and it isn’t always easy.

It is easy to glorify travel and adventure, but it’s not really fair to those experiences to end it at just that. In life and in travel, the times that challenged you are the same experiences that helped you grow – the ones that helped you move on into your next stage with as much grace as possible.

There are endless lists on why you should travel. Why it’s a good idea. Why it’s formative. Why it helps you find yourself. I’m not going to give you that list.

Don’t travel to get the pretty pictures for Instagram. You will get much more than you bargained for – not just pictures, but stories to go with them. Some of them will be painful. Some will be scary. All will be loaded.

I have traveled for the wrong reasons. I have traveled because I felt like it was what I should have done or who I should have been. But the trips I went on for the wrong reasons didn’t suddenly change me into the person I wanted to be. They helped, yes, but it was always a delayed reaction – a slow growth I could only see months afterward.

Do not travel to be like someone else. You will only ever be like yourself. Travel to explore who you are and to learn to love that person.

Do not travel because you are looking for something, or for someone. Understand that the world might see you and tell you that actually, you don’t need anything extra. Maybe you are already carrying too much. Understand that your experience might allow you to leave something behind instead, and that this can be more powerful, more valuable.

Do not travel to escape your world or your situation. It will be waiting for you when you get back. Travel to dig in, instead.

Do not travel because you think you “should.” Should is a word that governs our lives but only places limits and judgments on us. Who you should be is exactly who you are right now.

But most importantly, do not travel because someone told you to– including me. You don’t have to do it the way anyone else suggests. No one person’s advice is going to fit you and your situation, and there isn’t going to be a perfect fit the first time around.

Seek grit in your life, not because you feel you should, but because you feel a need. Replace “should” with what you truly require, what will improve you, and what reminds you of your heart’s capacity. Exchange walls for boundaries so you can lovingly require what brings out the best in you, while letting the light in.

It’s not fair to compare yourself to an idea you had about the person you once wanted to be, or the person you think you should be. It’s not fair to compare yourself to something you haven’t given yourself the chance to become yet.

Travel – or don’t – because it resonates with you, because you want to or need to. Travel because you have reasons, or because you don’t. Remember that you, and only you, are always the person who determines the right reasons. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Erin Sullivan is a writer, photographer, adventure trip leader and traveler.

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