Why I Travel

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The other night I was talking to my good friend Heather (not to be confused with my good friend Heather from The Kimchi Chronicles or my sister Heather) about what we wanted from life. She spoke of the pressure she felt society placed upon her to conform to a certain set of life rules.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Get married, have a 9-5 job, raise 2.5 delightful rugrats, pay off a mortgage, retire, and die in your bed at the ripe old age of 85. It seems like we’re born with this plan stretched out before us, and while we’re free to choose the route we take to get there – we almost all inevitably end up conforming to this capitalism feeding cookie cutter life.

And I’m not judging those people who want to go down this path. My sister (another Heather) is happily married, has just bought her first house, and just had her first baby (that’s right, I’m an uncle now). That is what makes her happy, and I’m happy that she’s found that.

Part of my friend’s problem was that she felt like she wouldn’t be happy until she’d reached that point or at least got herself started down that path. I don’t know whether or not that will give her the happiness she wants, but I know that it wouldn’t make me happy.

Enjoying an ice cold soda in Lake Ponderay, Idaho

The things that make me happy are far less conventional, but I’m sure most of you who have traveled with be able to relate. I get a giddy thrill out of stepping off of a plane in a new country. I love the initial surge of a plane beneath me as I take off on another adventure. I live for tasting a new food or trying a new thing. I take more pleasure from waking up to the gentle purr of the ocean than I do from achieving a promotion at work or paying off my car loan.

Why do I travel? Because it’s what makes me happy. Because the idea of settling down and raising a family and waking up every morning knowing I’d be doing the same thing today as I did yesterday fills me with something resembling dread. That’s not to say I’ll never want that for myself, but at this point in my life, that couldn’t be further from what I wanted.

When I was in primary school, I’d listen on with envy as classmates from more well-to-do families would tell us about their trips to Bali or New Zealand or Disneyland and I’d wish I could offer up a more interesting tale than my week in Byron Bay or a visit to my grandmother’s house in sleepy Rathmines. So maybe part of my love for travel is that early envy. That desire to have a good story to tell. Hell, isn’t that why I started a travel blog?

What am I good at? I’m good at writing. I’m good at rolling with whatever life throws my way. I’m good at making friends. I’m good at appreciating the little things. When I stop and think about it – travel is really the only thing that makes sense to me. It’s the only thing that consistently brings me happiness and the only thing I’ve ever felt comfortable doing from the get go.

I owe travel a lot too. Prior to going to Korea in 2004, my life was something of a mess. I’d graduated from Uni and somehow ended up back in my home town working at a grocery store. My life, outside of work, was basically playing World of WarCraft and drinking with my equally laid back housemate. The opportunity to go to Korea saved me from becoming just another twenty something loser stuck in his hometown.

Michael and I going on an adventure. My first weekend in South Korea.

Korea taught me to be independent. Korea took a shy country boy and turned him into the confident, friendly, and sociable animal he is today. I experienced love for the first time while on the road. I made friends I’ll never forget and had so many experiences that will stick with me until the day I die. Like any drug, travel is addictive – and I think I was hooked from the very moment I emerged from Incheon International Airport and felt the cold kiss of a Korean winter less than a day after leaving scorching Sydney summer.

Travel is what I love. It’s what I daydream about when I’m bored at work and what I plan for when I’ve got some extra money in my pocket and a free weekend coming up. Love of travel is a requirement in any girl I date, and it’s a love of travel that stops me from crazy impulse buying when the need grabs me. And it grabs me pretty often.

I love travel and travel loves me. And how could it not?

Sippin’ on a coconut in Hainan, China

So, why do you travel?

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  • I travel to feel less depressed. Travel gives me perspective. Travel makes me feel small. 🙂

    • That’s a big part of it for me as well. I have a somewhat unhealthy habit of uprooting my life and relocating to another country or city when the depression gets bad. Easier than dealing with it, eh?

  • Why do I travel? I travel to be thrown out of my comfort zone, to experience new things and to stay grounded and appreciating things I already have.

  • How many Heathers do you know?! 🙂

    Travel makes me happy. It makes me feel alive, free, and confident. I’m challeneged when I travel and I continuously learn. I think about it constantly and the desire to travel becomes more and more of a need with time.

    • Haha – there are two blogging Heathers, my friend Heather from Maryland, my sister Heather, and there’s the Heather I saw briefly at the start of the year. So weird :-p

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