Let’s face the truth – travel is in trend.
It’s the new ‘thing’ many of us like to do, spend money and time on, consume, and even show off. It’s treated like an asset and the more one ‘does’ it, the merrier. Social media is flooded with people going off to new places, discovering life, and attaining nirvana.
Words like wanderlust, wanderer, explorer, seeker fill up our bios and terms like couple-goals and bucket lists find a place in our achievements list.
Statistics show that this trend is bound to grow. In fact, given the number of international travel India predicts to see in the next two years, it may double. Yes, double. While it is great to have more people starting to travel, the mad obsession around it is frightening.
Counting countries one has been to, bucket list items one has checked off, and the peaceful state of mind one has attained through their travels – all of this and more has led to a feeling of constant pressure for those who like to stay back and not travel.
I know several people who like the rhythm of their daily lives and routines enough to be happy and content with it. That’s how most people around the world have lived and continue to live. It’s the most regular way to live a life. All of a sudden, there’s an implicit and sometimes explicit mockery at this normality that people have practised for ages. There’s a push to ‘get out of comfort zone’ and travel when most travel these days is barely an out of comfort zone activity.
The pressure of being constantly questioned about travels has converted the concept of travel into a commodity that every successful person must possess. And those who fail to ‘possess’ it are considered to be at a loss.
Given that one of the functions of travel is to provide a cut-off from the monotony, there are several other ways one can achieve that.
A complete cut-off can also happen through reading a good book, loving a child, growing a plant, sitting under a tree, playing a sport, or cooking a meal. It can also happen when drenching in the rain, dancing alone, screaming into the wind, painting a flower, staring into nothingness, or for some, travelling. There’s no evident reason why travel may do it and the other methods would not.
I bring up this topic because someone needs to say it out loud and clear that travel is not everybody’s first choice and it is perfectly alright not to be.
My main concern is not with companies and friends pushing people to travel but more so for claiming travel to be always life-changing. It’s important to realise that travel doesn’t change mindsets when it is spent in hotel rooms or over posh meals.
And it is only important to clarify this to both young and old who seem to be running behind capturing wanderlust in airport lounges, business getaways, and Instagram spots.
Travel is not the answer to anything if it is spent flaunting fancy clothes, practising unethical tourism habits, and hopping from one pub to another. Unless one doesn’t become a better person at home, there’s a faint chance that one would be better even after travelling the whole world.
This illogical equation thrown at the youngsters is leading them to believe that travelling makes them ‘cool’ and ‘important’ and is the ONLY way to become enlightened.
None of it is true especially when you are barely stepping out of your privilege during travels.
“For what gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have.” (via Brain Pickings)
So what’s the point?
The point is that an odd concept of travel is sold these days and sold massively without any ethics whatsoever. But the choice to travel or not to travel rests on us. The choice to jump from city to city, hotel room to hotel room, or go slow and steady rests on us.
If one likes to sit under their favourite tree every single day and think about life, it is as thought-provoking as the life of real travel. If one likes to raise their child and be present for them every single moment, it is as life-changing (or maybe more) than travel. If one loves to tuck themselves in their bed and read, it is as fascinating as being in a new place.
It all depends on what heals us and brings us peace. No person, no website, no friend, no ‘influencer’ and not even you can change that for you.
Last, there’s merit in remembering that it’s the settlers that choose to stay with their land and trees who create a home and space where wanderers find peace in. Imagine if everyone got up and left, there would be no such homes to travel to.
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