Traveling will help you discover new truths to live a happier life:
What is travel?
A question I’m pondering:
What is travel? Is traveling good? If so, why?
How far do you really need to go?
This is the interesting thing;
How far does one need to travel from their house for their activity to be considered “travel”?
For example, most people would consider going to a foreign country (international, not your nation) as “traveling”. If you go to a different state, that’s probably considered “traveling”.
Yet, let’s say you drive an hour from your house. Is that “traveling”? Or 30 minutes from your house?
I was curious, so I searched the etymology for the word “travel“. To my surprise, the general notion of “travel” meant “toilsome journey”.
In other words,
Traveling was seen as undesirable.
The close word that comes to mind is the French, “travailler“, which means “to trouble, to be worn out, suffer”.
Obviously we don’t want to trouble ourselves, suffer, or to be worn out.
But in modern times, to travel is seen as a privilege. To travel is only for the rich, fancy, privileged, and successful.
So when we think of traveling, why do we see it as desirable, and why do we enjoy it?
“My passion is traveling!”
Whenever I ask people what they’re passionate about, or what they want to do after they retire, or if they didn’t need to work for a living, they usually say “I want to travel more”.
I’m always a little suspicious when I hear this. I wonder:
Do they really want to travel more, or do they think they want to travel more, because society tells them that “successful” people travel a lot?
Obviously I cannot answer for others. But I can speak for myself.
Why I wanted to travel
To be frank, I wanted to travel from the age of 20 because I was bored of home. I was hungry for adventure, exploration, and I always thought that “the grass was greener on the other side.”
I also felt a lack of motivation in my photography. I thought to myself,
If I lived in Paris (like Henri Cartier-Bresson) I would be inspired to shoot photos all the time and be eternally happy!
When I went abroad and traveled for the first time, I was disappointed. I over-hyped traveling so much, that I was massively disappointed to find out that foreign countries and cities weren’t that different. And to my dismay, I didn’t take the world-changing photographs I desired to shoot.
So when I got back home, I wondered to myself:
What’s the point or purpose of traveling?
For the next decade (age 20 to age 30) I traveled the world to discover the answers and truths for myself.
I found a few answers.
1. Uncomfortable is good
Traveling is enjoyable because it is simulated poverty.
When you travel, you’re like a broke college student again. You cannot carry that much stuff with you (which forces you to be more minimalist, and carry fewer things). When you’re traveling, your day-to-day is more simple.
You then start to challenge yourself;
Why do I own so much shit back home? Do I really need all these possessions to make me “happy”?
For example when I’m traveling, I have no desire to buy fancy clothes, fancy cars, or fancy homes. My life is much simpler; I focus on making art, thinking, walking, talking, and experiencing things first-handedly.
So when people want “luxury travel”, it makes no sense to me. It’s almost a contradiction.
The point of traveling is to suffer a little bit; the uncomfort is actually enjoyable!
So perhaps in life,
Life is better when we avoid comfort. A little uncomfort in our life makes us happier!
Like the ancient Roman saying:
Comfort is the road to waste.
When you’re traveling you’re more active. You’re not stuck at home, watching Netflix or doing other passive activities, or playing video games, etc.
When you’re traveling, you’re more active. You go out. You do stuff. You meet people. You talk to folks. You walk. You expose yourself to the heat and cold.
So my idea is this:
Perhaps an active life is a happier life.
3. Making more photos
Photo making is our art form.
The more art I make, the happier I am.
In fact, I’m only “happy” when I’m in the active flow of creation. This is when I’m intense reading, intense writing, intense photographing, intense teaching, or intense music or poetry making.
Thus, the good thing about traveling is you’re going to naturally shoot more photos! Why? You got nothing else to do!
When you travel, all is exotic. And that’s interesting to us.
Thus this is my other proposition:
A happy life requires some novelty.
A life where 100% of my schedule was pre-arranged with no randomness or chaos or chance would be my personal hell.
As humans, I think we all desire some form of novelty. We want new music, new art, new smells, new people, new foods, new ideas!
And I think it’s our hunger for novelty is what drives our spirit of exploration!
Thus don’t be one of those productivity nerds; recognize that randomness, chance, and the new is good!
Thus with traveling, I recommend going to places and experiencing cultures which are totally different, such as:
- Japan (Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo)
- Mexico City
- New Orleans
- Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Dalat, Saigon)
When you’re too busy in the trenches of work, you don’t have the opportunity to reflect and think.
When you travel, and you’re away from all the insanity from everyday life, you will finally have the opportunity to think, reflect, and meditate on life.
You will have the opportunity to reflect:
What do I really want to achieve, do, create in my life?
I don’t think this would have been possible for me to discover if I never traveled.
As a conclusion, recognize that traveling isn’t the purpose of life. To me, the purpose of life is to create things which empower yourself and others.
Traveling is a bridge to discover deeper truths about life and your life.
I think it’s possible to discover these truths without traveling, but traveling is certainly a jetpack to help accelerate your learning about these philosophical truths.
So when in doubt,
NEVER STOP EXPLORING!
Are you hungry to explore more, experience more, and find deeper inspiration? Join me at my upcoming travel photography experiences >