I’ve been ruminating on these words from Robert Louis Stevenson for several months now: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
What I hear in his words is simply this: “It doesn’t matter where you go. Just go.”
Stevenson’s words convey the idea that there is great value in the journey, not just in the destination. Great power in getting out of our comfort zones. Great joy in moving and going and doing.
This is precisely why Dan and I chose to make travel a priority in our life together.
I think many people associate travel with luxury and extravagance, and as a result, believe they can’t do it. You can’t really travel if you don’t have X amount of disposable income. You can’t really travel unless your job gives you at least three weeks of vacation time. You can’t really travel after you turn 30. You can’t really travel after you have kids.
There is some truth behind these thoughts. Sure, travel would be so much easier if I had tons of money, vacation time, and no kids. Well, I don’t have kids. So that already makes things easier. But I don’t have tons of money, and I have only two weeks of vacation time. Neither of these challenges makes travel impossible.
What we’re really saying when we claim we can’t travel is that we aren’t willing to prioritize travel. And that’s okay! There are so many good things we can prioritize with our money and time. But I do think that many people believe they can’t travel because they have one or two primary misconceptions:
- A misconception about what travel is.
- A misconception about our power to choose (I’ll cover this in part two, coming soon.).
A Misconception about What Travel Is
Let’s do a little bit of word association. What comes to mind when you think of travel? Maybe vacations, booking flights, packing (such a headache!), unpacking (a bigger headache!), arranging rides to the airport, expensive dinners out. Perhaps you think of week-long trips to exotic destinations, all-inclusive resorts, fancy European hotels, or Florida beaches. Maybe travel means ski-lift tickets, a huge lodge with a fireplace, and the expenses of gear rental.
Yes, all of these are related to travel. But how would your thinking shift if you expanded your definition of what travel actually is?
First, travel doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be hostels and hole-in-the-wall cafes, packing your own food and packing in a carry-on (or backpack!), taking public transportation and skipping tourist traps. All you really need to travel is a solid pair of shoes and a backpack.
Second, Dan and I like to think of travel as something that falls under the larger umbrella of adventure. If we have a free evening or weekend, he’ll turn to me with a wide smile and excited eyes and ask, “What kind of adventures do you want to find tonight?”
Adventure doesn’t have to be plane tickets and hotel rooms and cab rides. Adventure is any new, exciting, or remarkable experience. We choose adventure when we go on a bike ride in the forest preserve near our home. We choose adventure when we’re running errands and then stumble upon a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant on their $1 taco and $3 margarita night. We choose adventure when we’re on a vacation and go off the beaten path.
Travel is something we get to do when we save money and plan for it. It’s a good thing, and we love to do it. Travel can be done on a budget and with limited time. It can be one night away, or it can be a week in a foreign country.
Adventure is a mindset. An adventurous way of life allows us to embrace experiences anywhere, anytime—at home, in a nearby town, or halfway across the world.
On Thursday, I’ll share part 2 of this series: how a misconception about our power to choose can prevent us from traveling more often.