Is it Selfish to Travel the World?
I know! You want to scream, “DUH of course it’s not selfish to travel the world” at me just by reading the headline on this article.
But the reality is, it’s not always that easy to prioritize taking that trip, especially if you’ve got a family. Putting yourself first is a practice that takes work, and can feel funky at first.
We hear this over and over, so here are some ways we’ve developed to deal with this.
When you’re dreaming about travel and travel planning, your trip can become your whole world.
Does all this putting yourself at the center of things make you self-centered? Where does it leave the other people in your life? When it comes down to it, is travel a selfish pursuit?
Here’s why we think no. And why we think you should travel the world anyway.
1) Doing Good For Yourself Lets You Do Good For Others
As soon as I started to travel and volunteer, my mood went through the roof. I was so happy to be doing what I’d always dreamed of. I was so happy to be traveling.
That positivity rubbed off on others. Happiness engenders happiness.
When you’re living your dream, your positive outlook can make others stop and think about what they could do to feel the same way. Or, it just lets them join you in a laugh and a smile.
You’re living the dream. You’re living YOUR dream. Yes, it’s ok to travel.
2) Travel Makes You Happier
It wasn’t just collateral cheerfulness I was spreading. As I traveled further, I became more active in sharing the good vibes.
My outer and inner life did a complete 180; When I was doing things for others, I was thinking a lot about myself.
Working hard at school or at a job, as I’d always felt I should, much of my thought processes were consumed with questions like: Why am I doing this? What can I do to be happier? What am I really meant to be doing?
When I was doing things for myself, I was thinking about others.
3) You Think about How to Give Back
Living the travel mission I’d always wanted to try, all my deep, existential worries about my purpose faded away – for the moment, I was living my goal instead of mulling over it.
With me sorted, I found myself thinking much more about the people around me.
How were they feeling? How could I help them? What would be a nice little thing to make someone smile?
And once you’re in that state, you’ll find it doesn’t end when your trip does. Travel continues to bring unexpected joys to my life.
4) You End Up Bringing It Home
Spending a year abroad was a big investment in myself, but now that I’ve put the time into pursuing my passions, I’ve noticed some definite changes to my outlook on life.
Solo travel was my big dream. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time waiting, but I made it happen.
And that’s an accomplishment that’s given me a lot of confidence.
I’m more secure when faced with little, everyday hiccups that used to worry me endlessly.
5) You Return with Different Goals
When I was hellbent on travel, I tried to save as much money as I could, and live on just a little while I was abroad. Now that I’ve done it, I’ve found I don’t have a huge desire to live on more. Instead, I just feel more appreciative of what I do have.
It’s given me a stronger foundation on which to build better relationships.
6) Travel is Extended Life Education
You learn so much about yourself, different cultures, and different ways of life just by traveling.
If someone tries to say you’re putting off “the real world,” just explain to them that traveling is just about as real as it gets. All you’re doing is furthering your life education.
People who disapprove of your wanderlust are often projecting some of their own stuff onto you.
You might hear something like “you’re just running away from life” or “why can’t you just settle down like everyone else?”
We say you’re running TO life.
It’s not that you aren’t ready to grow up and face reality — traveling IS reality. It’s coming face to face with extreme poverty. It’s understanding your privilege. Traveling is, quite simply, the best form of education you can invest in.
7) Travel Makes You More Outgoing
With family and friends, I’m more cheerful, quicker to laugh at myself, and so thankful to be with them again after time away.
Travel made me much more outgoing. After making conversation with 40 new people at once, it’s a lot easier to chat with one or two people you encounter at home!
Striking up these conversations has led to interesting connections.
I’ve been more proactive about meeting local and traveling volunteers in my area, networking with people who share my interests, and making not just friends but friends of friends and even strangers who feel welcome in my home.
8) You’ve Got Nothing To Prove
Whether you want to sell everything you own and move abroad, take an extended trip, or just carve out a few weeks from your hectic career and lifestyle and explore the world – babe, you’ve not absolutely NOTHING to prove. Not to me, not to anyone!
There is nothing wrong with asking for help in planning a trip. There’s nothing wrong with taking a tour if you feel overwhelmed. There is nothing wrong with making the choice to go travel, regardless of how your boss/boyfriend/pet might feel about it.
There is nothing wrong with deciding to stay home! This is your life, and you are in the driver’s seat.
So yeah, maybe some people might deem travel “selfish.” Those are not your people. And even if they are, who gives a flying tiger’s nest about what they think?
Who gets to decide what selfish is and isn’t? I’ll tell you who – YOU.
Prioritize yourself and your happiness. You never know the impact of your choices until you’ve lived them, so follow your intuition, travel freely, and give everyone who doubts you and your travel greatness the bird.
Perhaps the best discovery I made while traveling is this:
9) You can only give other people what you already have
If travel is the curiosity you have to satisfy, and the goal you’re longing to meet, don’t hesitate to put the time and energy into chasing down your dream.
Because once you do, you’ll experience those moments of utter joy and contentment that you can give back to the people you meet, and the world you’ve roamed.