Travel Isn't About Checking Off A List | Wordy Wednesday

Wordy Wednesday is where I share longer text posts, essays and rants about travel and life.


There are a lot of reasons that people travel, and many of them are fantasic. Just to say you have and to check the name of a place off a list shouldn't ever be one of them. 

My social media feeds are filled with pictures of people in exotic places doing things I dream of doing myself. I've read that millennials are more motivated to travel because of social media and the need they feel to fill their profiles with exotic photos. I'm guilty of posting travel photos and remembering all the incredible opportunities I've been blessed with, and I realize that it probably makes my life look more exciting than it really is. 

Check my Instagram and it looks like I do almost nothing but hike mountains and try new things. In reality, I spend the majority of my life writing things for other people and staring at a screen all day. I get filled with the FOMO just as much as anybody else - and I write about travel. 

Your main motivation to travel should never be just to add to your list of places visited, or to be the first in your Facebook travel group to check a place off a list. That kind of travel doesn't do anything except waste your money. 

I fell in love with traveling and wanting to see the world because I wanted to learn. I wanted to see things I'd never seen before, meet people who lived differently from me, and to learn about myself and other cultures in the best way possible. Before I knew about blogs, before Instagram and Facebook even existed, I wanted to experience more of what the world had to offer. 

At my core, that's still what I love most about visiting new places and even re-visiting favorite ones. Falling in love with a city or country and feeling like it loves you back is thrilling. Realizing that you're standing somewhere that is so culturally and historically significant isn't the sort of feeling you can get from reading a history book - and I read a lot of history books.

I have a long "to see" list, and I feel like there's more being added to it than crossed off. Maybe it's just my personality, but sometimes that can give me a little anxiety. So little time and so much to see can actually get overwhelming because I'm impatient and want things to happen as quickly as possible.  

 I didn't want to be social media famous or have people ask me for advice. I didn't even know it was possible to make money doing these things because these things quite literally didn't exist when I took my first extended international trip. I just wanted to see. To learn. To experience the world. 

I've said it before, but I don't believe that God put so much diversity and variety on this planet for us to only stay within our own little bubble. We are meant to connect with and love one another, not forget that anything exists outside of our hometown. 

Travel isn't meant to be some kind of competition. Everyone does things and sees things at their own pace. There are people who can visit one country and be changed forever, and others who have seen most of the world and haven't changed at all. I don't know about you, but I would much rather be the former. I would rather grow into a better person from one experience than be hollow after many more. 

It’s not about coming back as the same person as when you left. 
I've traveled with people who don't get it. It's not about getting pictures. It's not about doing everything. It's not about getting more followers or having bragging rights among your friends. It's not about emphasizing how much better your culture is than someone else's. It's not about having lots of money. It's not about coming back as the same person as when you left. 

I've purposefully not brought a camera with me on certain activities and don't have photos of every single thing I've done or seen. I've stayed in sketchy places and typically maintain a questionable diet when I'm away - but I believe that I am a far better, open minded, sympathetic and empathetic person now than I would be without every trip I've ever taken. Each one has given me a new skill or learning experience. Each stamp in my passport expands my circle of understanding, compassion and knowledge. 

To me, that's what it's all about. 

Travel is about feeling alive, not just looking like it online.