You’ve just graduated, you hate your job or you’re just generally lost in life. You start going on the internet and read posts about “How I quit my job and traveled the world” and it all seems to make sense – these people look like they’re living “their best life” because they’re traveling, so why shouldn’t you?
The narrative is basically saying that quitting your job and traveling the world will solve all your problems. It won’t. Trust me, I did that mistake a few times and realized I would just eventually be back in square 1.
Let’s take a look at some problems people expect traveling will solve:
Being lost in life
I’ve been lost in life so many times and I still am. Although I’ve always loved traveling because of the pure joy of it, there’s also been moments in my life where I felt so lost and confused so I set off somewhere far away. I didn’t know if I wanted to start university, what I wanted to work with, who I was as a person, etc. When I had these doubts, I quickly jetted off somewhere in the hopes of “finding myself”. I do think traveling made me find parts of myself and it helped ease these worrying thoughts for a bit, but as soon as I came home, I realized most of my problems were still there.
Traveling does soothe you for the moment but you also have to remember to deal with it, wherever you are in the world. Otherwise your problems will sooner or later catch up with you, whether you’re lounging on a beach in Thailand or home in your bed.
Change of career
You’re not happy at work and you want to make a career change, but the thought scares you. A lot of people has been there, but it sucks since it’s happening to YOU. So you decide to take a few months off, or quit your job and travel to the Far East. Perhaps you’re hoping for an epiphany or for an opportunity that will magically arise when you’re abroad. And perhaps it does (kudos to you then). But traveling isn’t really the most efficient way to make a career change. It’s all up to you in the end and how much effort you put into this change. There’s nothing wrong with traveling when you’re feeling this way, but make sure that you really do take the time to rethink, perhaps write down a few suggestions on what you’d like to work with and do some research. But don’t go traveling expecting that a new job opportunity or idea will be waiting for you around the corner.
You have a broken heart
I want to say traveling does help with a broken heart, but in the end I don’t think it does. Not really. You see, I’ve traveled with a broken heart not once, but twice, and although it did help me think about other things, I still went to bed with an uneasy feeling in my chest. I think when you’re broken-hearted, you just want the tough feelings to go away as quickly as possible, and what better way than by distracting yourself with as much as possible? Traveling certainly helps you with it as you’re seeing new sites everyday, meeting new (and hot!) people all the time, bouncing from place to place without having to deal with what happened at home. But it’s not until we actually deal with it that we can move on. Everyone does this differently, but I believe that traveling is just a distraction, it’s like putting a band aid and hoping the wound has healed when you pull it off.
Last time I traveled with a broken heart, I basically had no choice because it was a trip I had planned for months beforehand. But as it happened, I felt so glad that I was going to be on the road. I thought that this trip would definitely help me get over him and that there were new guys waiting for me across the ocean whom would blow me away. Obviously, it’s a bit far from reality (although I did meet guys that blew me away). But I often found myself distracted while I was traveling, thinking of this person, feeling my heart ache and even feeling nausea. There were times I just wanted to lock myself in a room and be with myself, away from all the strangers in my hostel. It wasn’t until I started to deal with these emotions that things started to clear up a bit. And it’s not thanks to the traveling part. In fact, I wish I hadn’t traveled with a broken heart because I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more.
You’re having relationship problems
No. Just no. Traveling won’t solve your relationship problems and neither will having a baby. How do I know this? Well, let me just say that a vacation with my ex ended up with us yelling, screaming, crying and eventually realizing even more how wrong we were for each other. It might sound like a great idea to fly somewhere romantic, spending time just the two of you and getting away from all that stress that you think is the root to all your problems (and perhaps it is). But from my own experience, I think the problems got more evident as soon as we started traveling. That’s when we knew that these problems won’t stop until we sit down and solve it together, and the best way to do that isn’t by stressing about where to eat, sleep or what to see next. It’s usually best done at home. Listen – if you can’t live with each other at home, you won’t be able to do it anywhere, let alone in a small bungalow in Bali.
I think we tend to romanticize traveling, like it’s the cure for everything in our lives. We see people posting tons of happy travel photos, couples who seem to be desperately in love and solo travelers who never feel lonely. Although I’m a huge advocate for traveling, it’s what I genuinely love to do, I also think you shouldn’t have too many expectations. I’m sure your trip will change you in many, many ways, but your problems won’t if YOU don’t make the effort to deal with them. And trust me, traveling (and LIFE!) gets so much more fun and enjoyable then.