Here’s the deal: I like pretty photos with inspirational photos as much as the next person. Hell, I’ve got a Pinterest board that focuses on nothing but those little gems. But — and this is a big but — those inspirational travel quotes that are circulating nonstop? Can they just stop?
Before you roll your eyes at me, or close this post, hear me out.
Why I Can’t Stand the Inspirational Travel Quotes
Some travel quotes, I love. I stand behind them. But others drive me up the wall. I am quite fortunate I have had the ability to travel as extensively as I have in my life. However, not everyone else has that same fortune.
Quotes like these literally make me tense. Not because they aren’t inspirational — they are — but because they imply that someone cannot live without traveling; that their life is less grand, less impressive, less fulfilled, than those who have the opportunity to travel.
Let’s look at the worst offenders:
The issue: Yes, travel while you can. Absolutely. Live life with no regrets.
Here’s the thing though: in order to travel, one NEEDS MONEY. Those plane tickets aren’t going to fall magically out of the sky. And, those travel experiences being touted don’t grow for free on trees.
Repeat with me: “You need money to travel.”
Yes, people can travel without a lot of money — many people do and do so very successfully (see: Matt Kepnes’ book How to Travel the World for $50 a Day), but let’s not forget, travel is not free.
And, when a person comes home from traveling, being penniless often times isn’t an option. (Note, I have an entire post coming on why it is important to have money when traveling, this is just the start since it is one of my biggest issues).
There are plenty of options to save money/not spend money while traveling, but always keep in mind that there should be an emergency fund, a secret stash, because you never know when that extra cash is necessary to fork over.
Experiences are more valuable than money, but being broke and stranded in a foreign country and starting a crowd-funding campaign to get home is a horrible Plan B.
The issue: This drives me bonkers because it implies that a person’s life isn’t as fulfilling or as complete without traveling. Some people live their whole lives in the same city where they were born and know nothing else.
Is it how I choose to live? Nope. But, I would never suggest that a person who hasn’t traveled or doesn’t have the ability (or desire) to travel is missing a chunk of their life and learning experiences.
I have learned a lot from traveling the world and being exposed to the ways other live. It is humbling, it is awe-inspiring. However, I would never tell someone that if they don’t travel, they are less complete of a person who haven’t learned as much about life as I have.
Learning experiences come in all shapes and sizes. Traveling is simply one such way to learn.
The issue: This is the quote that bothers me the most because it implies that anyone who doesn’t travel isn’t living.
There are other parts of life that define truly living, like family and friends. Sure, travel is an amazing thing, but it doesn’t mean that if a person can’t or doesn’t want to travel that they are living life any less than someone who can travel. Different strokes for different folks.
The issue: Travel doesn’t bring power or love back into life — the individual does. Whether or not someone finds this power or love while sitting on a deserted beach at sunset in an exotic tropical island or while taking the bus to work, it exists within US and not a place. While travel can certainly be a catalyst for rediscovering lost parts, it can also bring grief, stress and more into life.
For many people — including myself once upon a time — travel is a means to an escape. It is running because the job/relationship/life isn’t working the way it is supposed to in our heads. But, the thing about running is everywhere we go, there we are.
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a part of travel that allows for some amazing self-discovery, but it isn’t all gumdrops and lollipops, and often times a person has to go through some serious work to have that power and love in their lives. I know I have. It’s called therapy.
The issue: When in doubt, dig deeper and find out why there is a doubt in the first place. Travel doesn’t solve problems, although it can help open someone up to different experiences and certainly take someone down a different path. But, it isn’t a catch-all.
The issue: Yes, it is too much to ask for.
Quotes like this provide goals which are attainable to only an elite few (and even then, I don’t know that they are actually living a life as chilled as this).
Something a bit more realistic would be: “All I really want to do is spend my life traveling the world (after working my ass off to save the funds to do so), reading books that take my breath away, drinking all kinds of tea and occasionally write something (because I am definitely going to need money at some point, since traveling and books and tea all cost money). I mean is that too much to ask for (someone tell me it isn’t.)”
The issue: Travel is only one piece to the puzzle of being happy. Travel does not equal happiness; just ask some of the people out there who travel all of the time. Happy ebbs and flows and is not a constant. Happy comes from within, not from the outside world.
While traveling can certainly bring elements of happiness into a person’s life, it does not mean that booking a ticket, heading to a destination abroad and exploring the world will equal happiness.
The issue: Yes, quit your job. I did. Twice. But, not before I knew I had enough money to back my life of travel up.
Buy a ticket. Yup, got to do that, too.
Get a tan (sunscreen, folks!), check. Fall in love. Never return.
Just because a person: 1. quits their job, 2. buys a ticket, and 3. gets a tan does not mean that they will fall in love. Of course, people can fall in love with life, but not everyone’s stories equal love, particularly in the relationship sense.
As for never returning? Does that mean there are enough funds to finance a life of travels? Or, does that mean working while on the road, scrounging together jobs and eating Ramen? This quote is such a romantic (and unrealistic) idea of what travel is.
The issue: Gag.
This is the quote I see the most and the one which bothers me the most. It’s such a romantic notion and one that serves far more as an outlet for escape versus a realistic idea of travel. I don’t doubt people aren’t in love with cities they have visited and people they have never met, but it just seems like a huge cop out in terms of a reason to live a life of travel and justify heading out. To be honest, there are far better reasons to go and travel than being in love with an idea of something.
Let’s Share These Quotes Instead
Why I love it: This quote truly embodies the spirit of who we are and being mindful. It isn’t about escaping, or thinking travel will solve all of the problems.
It is about the notion that with new eyes and a new perspective, things can be discovered and people can change.
Why I love it: This is so true!
My entire life has been a series of events where I have been exactly where I needed to be in order to be where I am today. I regret nothing because every experience has shaped me into the person I have become.
Yes, travel has been a part of that, but I am where I am because it is where I need to be. Everything falls into place. Believe it. And, while life isn’t always easy, those struggles shape us all to be exactly who we are meant to be, living the lives we were meant to have.
Why I love it: I’ve said it a million times: happiness is in us.
It isn’t up to outside forces to create happiness (although they can certainly create moments of Happy). In general, if a person isn’t happy, getting to Friday, summer or falling in love won’t change that.
Why I love it: OK, this is a bit of a travel-y quote, but it applies to every aspect of life.
If people aren’t willing to take risks, they will never know what life could be. Those risks require bravery, and that comes in all forms. Whether it is jumping out of an airplane, or simply going up to talk to a stranger, bravery is everywhere in life. But, to achieve any goal, that first step needs to be stepped.
Why I love it: Life isn’t perfect. Life isn’t always beautiful. But, it is life.
It is up to each person whether or not they choose to have pity parties or talk about “how life could be” or be mindful of every moment and appreciate all of the blessings … even the tiny ones.
Why I love it: Nothing is perfect. I don’t believe “perfect” actually exists.
But, “wonderful” does.
I know for me, I’m not in the place where I thought I would be growing up, but that is OK. I wake up every morning grateful for where I am and the people in my life.
Why I love it: Fear is our greatest excuse and our greatest inhibitor. Without conquering fear, it is impossible to get what we want. So, take that fear, embrace it, address it, and then conquer it.
Why I love it: Money, a big house, a fancy car … none of that matters if a person is miserable. The less crap I have in my life (both monetary and emotionally), the happier a person I am. It works for me; it may not work for everyone.
However, taking a moment each day to be grateful, to share the love a person has with another person (and I’m not talking about just romantic love, it can be as simple as smiling at someone on the street who looks sad), can be phenomenal for those endorphins.
Why I love it: I’ve been learning a lot about the art of letting go and being mindful (can you tell?).
This is the most important nugget of wisdom to consider. We live in our heads, we imagine scenarios, we play them over and over again. The thing is: most of those things can’t be changed by us. There are external forces at work, so focus on the things which you can change as an individual and accept the things which cannot be changed, and let them go.
Note: for more on mindfulness and letting go, I highly suggest reading The Power of Now. That, and therapy, changed my life for the better.
What are your favorite/least favorite quotes?