Everyone Says I Am Running Away

When I started traveling, my dad asked what I’m running away from. My mother constantly wants to know when I will “settle down” and join the “real world”. Someone once commented on my blog and told me to stop running away and live life. There was even a blog called “Mom says I’m Running Away” once.

I’m not sure why, but there is this perception out there that anyone who travels long-term and isn’t interested in settling down or getting a conventional job must be running away from something.

They are just trying to “escape life.”

The general opinion is that traveling is something everyone should do — that gap years after college and short vacations are acceptable. But for those of us who lead nomadic lifestyles, or just linger a bit too long somewhere, we are running away.

Yes, travel — but just not for too long.

We nomads must have awful, miserable lives, or are weird, or had something traumatic happen to us that we are trying to escape from. We are like children who don’t want to grow up and are simply running away from “the real world.”

And to all those people who say that, I say to you — you’re right.

Completely right.

I am running away.

I have been since I slung my backpack over my shoulders in 2006.

But I am not trying to avoid life; I am just trying to avoid your life.

I’m running away from your idea of the “real” world.

Running away from office life, commuting, and weekend errands, and running towards everything the world has to offer. I’m running away from monotony, 9-to-5, rampant consumerism, and the conventional path.

I running towards the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom and living.

I want to experience every culture, see every mountain, eat weird food, attend crazy festivals, meet new people, and enjoy different holidays around the world.

While there may be exceptions (as there are with everything), most people who become vagabonds, nomads, and wanderers do so because they want to experience the world, not escape some problem.

We travel to experience life and live on our own terms.

Life is short, and we only get to live it once. I want to look back and say I did crazy things, not say I spent my life in an office, reading travel blogs, and wishing I was exploring the world.

As an American, my perspective might be different from everyone else. In America, you go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, and have your 2.5 children. Society boxes you in and restricts your movements to their expectations. It’s like The Matrix. And any deviation is considered abnormal and weird.

There’s nothing wrong with having a family or owning a house — many of my friends lead happy lives doing so.

However, the general attitude in the U.S. is “you have do it this way if you want to be normal.”

And, well, I don’t want to be normal. Like them, maybe you are happy with long commutes and 10 hour work days in the name of a promotion or more stuff.

But I’m not. Life is too short for that.

I think the reason why people tell us travelers we’re running away is because they can’t fathom the fact that we broke the mold and are living outside the norm. To want to break all of society’s conventions, there simply must be something wrong with us. What other explanation could there be!

Years ago a book called The Secret came out. According to The Secret, if you just wish for and want for something bad enough, you’ll get it.

That’s crap.

The real secret to life is that you get what you want when you do what you want.

Life is what you make it out to be.

Life is yours to create.

We are all chained down by the burdens we place upon ourselves, whether they are bills, errands, or, like me, self-imposed blogging deadlines. If you really want something, you have to go after it.

People who travel the world aren’t running away from life. Just the opposite. Those that break the mold, explore the world, and live on their own terms are running towards living. We are running towards our idea of life. We get to be the captains of our ships. We looked around at the norm and said, “I want something different.” It was that freedom and attitude I saw in backpackers all those years ago that inspired me to do what I am doing now. I saw them break the mold and I thought to myself, ”Why not me?”

I am not running away.

I am running towards the world.

And I never plan on looking back. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Budget travel expert, author of “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” at Nomadic Matt.

Keep up with Matthew on Twitter and nomadicmatt.com