The Misunderstood Traveler

Travelers are the most misunderstood of dreamers. People half understand career goals and dreams. Planning a career is something drilled into us from childhood. Everyone asks kids what they want to be when they grow up. Career dreams are considered normal and understandable.

These same people don’t understand why you’ll plan your whole summer around a trip. They especially don’t understand when you travel solo halfway across the world. To them, travel isn’t a goal or something you do for fun or life experience.

It’s something you do to get to a place you need to be. Some of us just have an urge to pack up and jet off to a popular destination or some off the beaten path village. Either way, people who don’t have wanderlust think we’re crazy. There are people who are entirely uncomfortable with change, challenge and new surroundings. Then there are the travel lovers who thrive on the fresh and unfamiliar. Our little travel tribe isn’t small, but it does not include everyone. I know at least a dozen friends or family who prefer to stick close to their hometown. Travel isn’t something they enjoy or dream about.

People travel for different reasons. Some visit family, some like checking things off their to do list. Then there are the people who travel because they know there’s more to the world. No one has to tell you that your neighborhood is only a small piece of a big world puzzle. You just know.

At the end of a trip, travelers rarely have anything but pictures and memories to show for their effort. People don’t get that. They want something more concrete. They ask to see pictures of all the famous stuff we saw. The highlights are impressive to everyone. Come home from a trip without this proof and you’ll get looks of pure confusion. Why would you travel and not have pictures of every little thing?

Travelers in it for the experience think of those highlights as something that happened while they were really living. You cherish the experiences, the people and the food. The most amazing things may have happened when your camera battery died. Or you were too busy living it to record it.

Don’t worry about being misunderstood. People are wired differently. Some of us want to explore; others need the comfort of home. Neither is wrong or right. Just travel. Others may not understand you, but with every trip you’ll learn more about yourself.


Photo: Arrival on My Way by Hartwig HKD via Flickr

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