I’ve been traveling to where other people consider ‘strange places’ for years; since 1992. And after all these years the reaction from others is still the same: Why are you going there? Or, You’re traveling again? Or, Don’t you ever work? Better (or worse) yet, they say, “I wish I could travel.”
I can’t figure it out. I get mixed messages from those who ask these questions as if they’re angry I’m leaving again or they’re jealous that it’s not them. “What are you running from?” they ask me knowingly, like they’re certain they’ve caught me and there must be some big sadness or woe I seek to escape. “I’m running toward, not from,” I say when given the chance. To which I receive a blank stare.
‘But there’s so much to see in the United States! Why would you need to travel anywhere else?’ ‘Aren’t you scared traveling alone?’ ‘I can’t travel because my husband/wife/partner doesn’t like to travel.’ ‘I’d travel but I don’t have the money.’ ‘I would never go there!’ ‘Don’t you just want to stay at home?’ And on and on…
And by the way, people who tell me they wish they could travel: you can travel! If it’s a priority for you, you can do it. And also, people who ask me if I ever work or if I’m still on vacation: I get multiple weeks each year from my employer to use as I see fit. I’m not going to forfeit those days.
I don’t care what other people think of me and my travels. I really don’t. But getting bogged down with these kinds of conversations has made me clam-up and not discuss travel plans or travel in general with people; especially at work. Why would I want to invite such comments from people?
I’m long over thinking that I can change other people’s attitudes with one single comment. So I blog. I write my experiences down and post them, assuming that the people who read them will already be somewhat interested in the topic to be reading about travel in the first place. And those who don’t understand either will come to accept it about me, or not. It won’t matter to me because it won’t change what I do. And it won’t change what I love.
I get the most defensive when people assume my travel interferes with my work as a sales rep. I cover three large states in the US and am on the road a lot just for work. I work many hours a day (and night!) because my work is always with me no matter where I am. I’m reachable by phone(s), text(s), email(s) and am talking all day long in dental offices. I’m constantly on. And the fact that I’m unmarried and have no children means I have that much more time to devote to work. And it means that I’m the only one who can get my stuff done for myself between business trips: laundry, mail/bills, errands in general, food shopping, maintenance, etc. So life can be crazy. I don’t only want to travel, I need to do it. And I’m tired of taking flack for it.
It seems to be virtuous in the circles I’m in to forfeit vacation. To give the appearance that I couldn’t possibly take vacation because I’m too integral to the success here. Or to give the appearance that I’m such a hard worker and am so dedicated to this job. When really it might be that people just don’t know what they’d do with themselves for more than a few days off at a time! I’ve never been so relaxed as when I’m on vacation, away from home, for longer than one week. It’s remarkable how relieved and light one can feel after no thoughts of work or home.
Don’t get me wrong, there can be negatives for traveling and I’ve been penalized greatly for my travels. It still surprises me it happened. Once a co-worker stepped in while I was gone and worked her way in to a job I was interviewing for using my time away/vacation as a way to disparage me. Another time I was demoted after taking a three-week vacation (for which I was given approval) because I used poor judgment taking that much time off. (At the end of the year and when not even using all of the vacation time due me, by the way!) So there can be a price to pay. But it’s worth it to me. I am a changed person after every trip. I am fuller and happier and more settled. It’s what makes me who I am.
The point is, everyone can travel. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do. You can travel. You can travel in your own city! Pretend you’re a visitor and see the place you know and live with fresh eyes! Plan a trip in your own state and see something you’ve never thought to visit before. Go to a neighboring state for a weekend. Try new foods. Be open to new activities. All of that, to me, is considered traveling. Say yes to travel! Define it your own way – – and just do it! Be open to the things the world shows you and teaches you. You’ll never be the same.