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Thinking about travel and what it means

I’ve argued a lot, in public and in private, that this big trip of mine is more than just a lot of fun. It’s life. It’s work. It’s an adventure yes, but not just trekking and drinking, but an adventure of the mind. Traveling requires creativity and hard work, a lot of patience and a hell of a lot of resolve.

But you know what? It’s also a lot of fun. It’s a lot of drinking, a lot of socializing. A lot of sitting on beaches, of surfing the internet, of reading for pleasure. Of sex. A lot of quick friends and days of doing nothing but laying in a hammock. Late nights of dancing, drinking, breaking societal norms and ignoring local cultural traditions. Traveling, no doubt about it, is a hedonistic affair.

That’s certainly not bad. Everyone’s allowed to indulge once in a while. And while I do, I try to remember that there’s a reason I’m here. It was a lot of hard work–years of saving, setting goals, rationing and planning.

Listen, I still believe that traveling is hard, and that what I’m doing is the greatest thing I could’ve done with my life. It has irrevocably changed my life for the better. My quality of life has improved and there’s no doubt in my mind that traveling will improve my chances for success later in life as well. The things I’ve learned abroad have made every day easier, every day different. And there’s no doubt that it has changed what my future is going to look like. Whether tomorrow, 6 months, 1 year, 5…10 years from today.

And yet I can’t help but feel tinges of guilt. Maybe sitting on the beach for days on end, writing all these thoughts in my Moleskine isn’t so healthy after all. It just brings up more questions than answers.

  1. Yes, travel is certainly a hedonistic and self indulgent activity, but it also comes with an enormous amount of personal growth.

    And I passionately believe that, aside from what you’re looking to get out of it, what seperates travel from tourism is that travel can be really hard!

    • Adam says:

      You’re right – travel can definitely be really hard. For some reason, though, I find traveling here in southeast Asia to be incredibly easy and especially hedonistic. Maybe I’m just not exploring far enough into some of these countries though.

  2. Serena Prammanasudh says:

    It’s ok, I feel that sometimes you must get lost somewhere, a foreign country, in order to really find out who you are. I came to this conclusion quite recently, looking back on past travels.
    I only hope that someday I will have the opportunity, patience, and resolve to do what you’re doing.

    • Adam says:

      Hey Serena,
      Thanks! It’s a little funny how travel can help you “discover” things about yourself, while at the same time, I’m living a life completely unlike how I’ve ever lived before! And while I’m having the time of my life, part of me also wants to stop traveling and settle down again…

  3. Sanne says:

    Generally, everything brings up more questions than answers, and well… we can’t answer all of them, especially ones about the future. I completely agree with everything you just posted in this particular blog. I live for travel and though I haven’t been out of my house in quite some time… I’ll be traveling soon and reading this post just made me more excited than ever to get out and meet people, sit around, eat weird food, drink a lot, learn from humans not books etc. In my past travels I’ve never felt guilty about what I was doing at the time and I don’t think you should either. This IS your life. Live it up guilt free!! Just be nice to people :)

    • Adam says:

      Sanne,
      Thanks for your insightful comment! I still think you can learn a lot from books, though :)

      And “just be nice to people” is one of the best things anyone could learn!

  4. Stephen says:

    Well written.

    I’m definitely with you on this, both on the accusatory claims from people who aren’t doing it and on those questions scratched into a notebook that never do get a solid answer put with them.

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