Tag Archives: Why Travel

In our last blog post, we talked about the why. Why you would want to travel and the fact that being clear about this can help you to get over roadblocks that stand in your way.

Anyway, we have a friend, Litsong from Taiwan. She’s a real globetrotter and travels several months every year, all over the world, most of the time together with her son.

When we asked her why she travels, she said this, which we really think sums it up in a great way:

“I travel so I can have a change of pace and path in my life. Traveling helps me to still my curiosity about people, to create new possibilities for my livelihood and to discover new places. It gives me the opportunity to be with friends, both new and old and the opportunity to live in the present, being in the here and now and having fun!”

They say that if you have a really strong why, the how will very much sort itself out.
Of course you can apply this for traveling as well. If you’re very clear about why you want to do that 6 (or 3 or 12) months trip, you can be sure to start finding solutions to obstacles that stand in the way between you and your journey. Some questions you can ask yourself to strengthen your why are:
What specifically motivates you to do some long term traveling? When you think about traveling, what is it that makes your heart beat a little faster?
What do you want to experience?
What do you see your trip to lead to?
Who do you want to be when you get back?
What is your biggest motivation to travel?
Contemplate this for a while and get yourself a really strong why!

They say that if you have a really strong why, the how will very much sort itself out.

Of course you can apply this for traveling as well. If you’re very clear about why you want to do that 6 (or 3 or 12) months trip, you can be sure to start finding solutions to obstacles that stand in the way between you and your journey. Some questions you can ask yourself to strengthen your why are:

What specifically motivates you to do some long term traveling? When you think about traveling, what is it that makes your heart beat a little faster?

What do you want to experience?

What do you see your trip to lead to?

Who do you want to be when you get back?

What is your biggest motivation to travel?

Contemplate this for a while and get yourself a really strong why!

We dreamt about Fiji, and made a reality of that dream – how about you?

Three days after their wedding, Derek and Shanna set of on their one year long honeymoon. During that year, they visited 40 different countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe.

Derek and Shanna on their one year long honeymoon

Derek and Shanna on their one year long honeymoon


They also started their blog, www.oneyearonearth.com which is really packed with inspiring information and answers to the question why travel, so check it out. Be prepared though, you might want to take out your suitcases and start packing! They’re back in the USA now since some time, and we asked Derek a couple of questions.

Q: So would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your travel history?

Derek: I’m a 37-year old lawyer originally from Nashville, Tennessee, but now live in Washington, DC. My family traveled frequently when I was younger, but only within the US. I took my first overseas trip when I was 21, and I was hooked. When I was 24, I did a 7 month RTW trip. I returned a little over a year ago from a one-year RTW trip with my wife. In between those 2 RTW trips, I’ve taken 2 or 3 mini-trips a year (1 to 2 weeks each). To date, I’ve visited 71 countries.

Q: You’re now back from your long journey, why did you want to go in the first place?

Derek: I’ve had a passion for travel for many years now. Once you’ve had a taste of it, you’re smitten for life. Ever since I returned from my first RTW trip, I had been trying to figure out a way to do it again. Luckily, I met my wife who agreed to quit her job with me and hit the road for our honeymoon.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with having traveled? Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Derek: Perspective and enrichment. For those who haven’t seen the diversity in the world (whether race, culture, religion, food, political beliefs or income levels), it’s virtually impossible to understand your place in the world. Only travel provides this.

Q: When we travel around as a family, the absolute most common question we get from people is about money and how we can afford to travel and live the life we do. So if we ask you the same question, what would be your answer?

Derek: For most Americans, a trip around the world is quite possible if you make it a priority in your life. Thousands of people of all budgets, occupations and means are currently backpacking somewhere on the globe at this very minute. Those people made major adjustments in their daily expenses, often spending months, years and even decades saving the necessary amount to hit the road. A trip around the world can be amazingly affordable if you’re willing to travel cheaply. Just think–instead of buying a $20,000 car, you could take off for a year and finance a life-changing journey around this beautiful planet.

One tip to help with the financing: if you’re getting married, why not register for parts of your trip instead of for, say, dishes? We used a site www.travelersjoy.com that allowed us to enter various activities (say, scuba diving in Thailand) and the dollar amounts that went with them. Our family and friends could then select those activities as gifts for us. We think they really liked having the opportunity to contribute to our trip instead of to our kitchen cupboards, and the money they contributed on the site allowed us to splurge when we otherwise may not have been able to.

Q: We like to talk about the “But’s” – obstacles that show up when people are considering to travel extensively. What we mean by But’s is the little voice inside your head that starts telling you that you don’t have enough money or time, you can’t leave your job, the kids have to stay at home and go to school, that it could be dangerous or something else. Is this something you are familiar with for your own part and if so, how did you overcome your own But’s?

Derek: I’ve been an anti-“but’s” person for many years. I’m not sure how that came about or if it was innate. I’m the one convincing others that they can do it (whether travel or something else).

And here is a film from their fantastic honeymoon:

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To us one of the most obvious answers to the question why travel is the opportunity to meet with all kinds of interesting people. Seeing and doing things might be interesting and fun, but what always affects us most and stays strongest in our memories is meeting with different people.

Joel and Louise tell us why travel is important to them…

Joel and Louise tell us why travel is important to them…


Some years ago we had (again) traveled from Sweden down to Southern Spain and were staying at this camp site outside of Marbella www.campingmarbella.com. We have spent a couple of winters there but this time we had just landed there for a few days. Marbella is very international, people from all over Europe come here, but also from much more faraway places. It’s actually a bit like a melting pot which some loves and some don’t.

Anyway, one day we discovered this small campervan close to our own trailer. It was a bright yellow VW and what especially attracted our attention was the American flag attached to it. We realized this was not any of the ordinary northern European “going to Spain to survive the winter” visitors and we started talking to them.

It turned out the car belonged to an American couple, Joel and Louise Goodman and they were on a 2 year journey around Europe. They seemed to really have the time of their lives, traveling around with their mini home, exploring Europe. We had many interesting conversations with them, about their travels (this was far from their first), their family back home and their homeland before they continued their trip further north, to Granada and the Alhambra.

We have followed their journey since on their blog www.goodmansjourney.com . After their 2 years in Europe they went back home to the US, sold their house and bought a big (well to us Europeans, HUGE) motor home and started their “Tour of the Americas”.

We asked them if they were willing to answer a few questions why travel has become an important part of their life and these are their answers:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your travel history.

Goodman’s: We are now 69 years old, married for 49 years, have 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren, retired for the last 6 years, sold our home and belongings in Seattle and decided to travel. Now how could we do this on a budget? We bought a well used VW Campervan via the internet in the Netherlands and set out to see Europe. After 2 years and living small, we were able to explore and love 29 European countries. Arriving back in America, we purchased a large motor home and set out to see “The Americas”, from Alaska to the Panama Canal and everything in between.

Q: Where are you traveling at the moment?

Goodman’s: We are traveling in “Mainland” Mexico. We toured through the Mexican Baja for 4 months two years ago and now we are totally enjoying as much as we can see in the rest of Mexico.

Q: For how long will you be away this time?

Goodman’s: 6 months.

Q: What are you planning to do on this journey?

Goodman’s: Meet and enjoy the people of Mexico and those who travel into it. We also want to learn and see as much about this close neighbor as we can. The music, food, drink, beaches, mountains, and so much more await us.

Q: Why do you travel / Why did you start to travel in the first place?

Goodman’s: Having taken a couple of one or two week “vacations” and enjoying the journey, the peoples, the histories, and the “love of travel caught us and wouldn’t let go.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with being a traveler/having this traveling lifestyle that you have?

Goodman’s: Getting to know what is around the corner or across the seas..

Q: Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Goodman’s: It dictates it !!!

Q: To a lot of people, the dream of a long journey remains just a dream. In what way do you think you are different from all the people who haven’t made it a reality?

Goodman’s: We just did it…The decision to be changed and allowing it to happen.

Q: Do you have any advice to people who want to, but are still only dreaming about going out into the world for a longer journey?

Goodman’s: Don’t over think it, “Just Do It”

We just want to thank Joel and Louise so much for answering our questions and we’re looking forward to one day again meet them somewhere in the world!

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She left the USA 2004 to volunteer for the peace corps in Bulgaria. This was just the start of a long journey that later took her and her husband, to South Korea, where they now teach English. She has a blog www.notanothertourist.blogspot.com where you can read all about their long journey. We asked some questions about her traveling life and her experiences of being a traveler.

Seoul Trip

In the N Seoul Tower


Q: Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your travel history?
Not Another Tourist: I should preface that I am not the most adventurous girl in the world. I have always been interested in traveling, but I have some (okay, many) strikes against me. I am a super picky eater, I get motion sickness easily, I really hate to fly and the physical act of traveling for a long time. I’d never even peed outside until I got locked out of a house when I was 27 years old. I will shriek until you have removed the giant spider hanging above my bed. But I have always wanted to shed that persona. So I took to traveling in smaller steps. In university I jumped at a chance to use my Spanish skills and to help out on a service project in Guatemala for a week and then chose a study abroad summer internship in Greece. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and following my passion for working with kids, I moved to the opposite side of the country for two years to work in youth development-centered non-profits as an AmeriCorps Volunteer. Following that, I took a bigger step to become a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Bulgaria, where I coincidentally met and married another Volunteer. We decided we loved the simple ex-pat life so much that we got certified to teach English. Although the thought of living in Asia seemed intimidating (spicy kimchi and seafood is just about my worst nightmare), we took jobs in South Korea and have been here for over two years (and I really enjoy it-sans kimchi and fish- for the record). Although I have spent a fair amount of time living abroad, I haven’t been able to travel to all of the places I would like… yet.

Q: What do you want to share/express with your blog?

Not Another Tourist: My blog is basically my reflections on what it’s like to live, work and travel wherever I am at the moment.

Q: Why do you travel?

Not Another Tourist: I was that child who was obsessed with learning about other cultures and languages. However, I couldn’t afford to be an exchange student, and didn’t get out of the country until university. I always wanted to know how other cultures looked at life and how it compared to my own. Growing up I thought American culture was so boring (probably because I was used to it) and I always felt that seeing and learning about the way other people lived would be really exciting.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with being a traveler? Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Not Another Tourist: One of the greatest things about traveling is that you get to become like a child again. You are totally helpless in a new place and have to observe and learn as you go. You have the unique opportunity to wrap your head around new ways to do everything from using the bathroom to getting along in a group. So the biggest advantage of being a traveler is opening your mind to a whole new way of thinking and living. When you start to see the parameters and roles that are defined for people in other cultures, you begin to see similar or opposite parameters defined in your own culture. You begin to realize there is no “us” versus “them” and that everyone has a different way of doing things.

In essence, the further you go away from home, the closer you get to finding out who you are. I often joke with my friends that the frustration of cultural misunderstandings are part of the fun. When I can’t understand or don’t like how things are done overseas, it’s a cultural misunderstanding and it’s easy to let it go, but when I can’t understand or don’t like how things are done in America, I lose my patience with people’s inability to intelligently function.

Q: When we travel around as a family, the absolute most common question we get from people is about money and how we can afford to travel and live the life we do. So if we ask you the same question, what would be your answer?

Not Another Tourist: Money was my biggest freak out, too. After four years of being a professional volunteer, I had no savings. When we decided to move to Korea for work, my husband (also penniless) and I had to budget enough to pay for a TESOL certification course, a plane ticket and a safety net of about $5000 before leaving the country (just in case things fell through and we’d have to return home before our first paycheck).

Everyone has their own standard of living, so you have to budget for what you really think you will spend according to your needs. For example, if you are planning a round-the-world trip are you going to travel and stay in hostel dorms every night if you are couple or do you want to stay in a double room, or have even nicer accommodations? If you want to live overseas, are you willing to live like the locals and live cheaply or will you require a lot of western and/or imported amenities which will eat away your savings and paycheck? You may also have to factor in extra costs like medical insurance or how you will pay off your car insurance or student loans, etc. I would strongly advise paying off any outstanding debt before leaving unless you know you will have a steady income while overseas to keep up with payments.

With that said, living a fairly normal, extroverted life teaching English in Korea is quite profitable for people who can manage a budget.

Q: What do you experience people are most interested in learning from you as a traveler?

Not Another Tourist: I think most people are interested in hearing the differences between how things are in one place versus another. I think they really are interested to learn that not everything is done the same way as they are used to and I think they also like to find out that old negative stereotypes aren’t always what they seem.

Q: We like to talk about the “But’s” – obstacles that show up when people are considering to travel extensively. What we mean by But’s is the little voice inside your head that starts telling you that you don’t have enough money or time, you can’t leave your job, the kids have to stay at home and go to school, that it could be dangerous or something else. Is this something you are familiar with for your own part and if so, how did/do you overcome your own But’s?

Not Another Tourist: I didn’t come from a family with a ton of money and I wasn’t in the right field to have a high paying job, so I spent a lot of time in college trying to figure out how I could make that into a reality without relying on my parents for money or compromising my interests and passions career-wise. I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone and make some sacrifices to get where I am. I think most people think they are stuck because they are comfortable and they make up excuses because they are afraid of the unknown.

We were lucky because we didn’t have too large of a student loan to repay (only $25,000), we didn’t have a mortgage, we didn’t have children and we weren’t tied down in any other way. We shopped at thrift stores, took advantage of low priced meals at happy hours and passed on the big party nights out. We had to work desk jobs for a year to save up to get overseas again. What makes us different is that for us, it’s not really too much of a sacrifice, because we achieved the end result and we are happy where we are.

We are also not heartless, running away from home or wandering aimlessly. We miss out on the holidays, birthdays, weddings, first crawls and special moments with our friends and family. But these days, technology makes it so much easier to stay in touch either via social networking sites, blogs, email, free video-chat, etc. I, along with many other friends who live overseas, continue our education in a variety of ways, either enrolling in local schools or through online programs.

For us, the prospect of a lifetime sitting at a desk crunching numbers and stressing about deadlines was never going to cut it. No amount of luxury outside of the work week would be worth it. Having the latest cell phone and designer bag to carry it in isn’t what makes me enjoy life. Walking down the street smelling wood smoke and bargaining for a good price on fresh apples is way more appealing to me. In other words, living a low-maintenance lifestyle enabled us to get here faster, which helps you get used to life overseas anyhow, because the majority of what you can get back home is not available in most countries. You learn to enjoy the simple things and smaller feats you’d never think about back home.

Q: Do you have any advice to people who want to, but are still only dreaming about going out into the world for a longer journey?

Not Another Tourist: In order to make your dream into a reality, you simply have to put it into motion, even if it is just setting up a weekly or monthly budget, sticking to it. Tracking your progress provides tangible motivation. Money was a big thing for me, mainly because I didn’t have any. I joined the Peace Corps because it was one of the few ways to live and work overseas and not have to pay for all of the travel or medical expenses. Similarly there is a lot of opportunity to teach English overseas and the pay scales go up according to certification and experience.

Once I’d figured out that I wanted to start teaching English abroad, I sat around for a few months daydreaming and saying, “maybe in about a year we will have saved enough money” until one day I met a temp at my office who’d quit a high paying job to go live in Spain for a few months. She said it was the best decision of her life and when she told me how little her start-up costs were in doing it, I wanted to figure out exactly how much it would cost to get what we wanted. So I researched by looking online forums, connecting with friends already teaching abroad and then mapped it out. I discovered we could achieve what we wanted much sooner than we’d initially thought. I handed in my 30 day notice the following Monday.

My co-workers thought I was nuts because I hadn’t actually signed a contract for my next position at that point. But I wasn’t worried about it because I knew that I had a realistic plan and I was only on the first step and that was the only way to get to the second step and so on. And just as we had planned, we were certified and teaching in Korea six months later. There were many people along the way who said, “Wow, I WISH I could do what you are doing…” My reply was always simply, “If you truly wanted to be doing what I am doing, you would be doing it right now, too.”

Q: What is happening at the moment and where are you?

Not Another Tourist: At the moment, we are in our third year of teaching English in South Korea. Originally we had planned to stay two years in Korea to eliminate student debt (which we successfully did within the first six months) and continue on teaching English in various countries until we found one we couldn’t bear to leave or found another calling. However, the recent economic downturn and discovery of our true callings (still in education, just not entirely ESL based) changed our minds. We now have plans to continue teaching here for a while and a new financial goal to save up to pay for both of us to attend graduate school in the US and cover all of our living expenses and then some. In the meantime, we are using our free time to study and cultivate ourselves for our future fields as well as having an enjoyable time living and teaching in Korea.

Thank you so much for answering our questions and we hope to hear from you again in the future, from somewhere in the world!

It’s fascinating with all the different people you meet when you travel the world. And in the most unlikely places! Here are a couple of stories that I was thinking about recently:

Speeding campervan

Our campervan in New Zealand but not where dad got caught for speeding...


My dad never gets caught speeding at home in Sweden, but it has frequently happened abroad… There was this one time in New Zealand, he was driving a campervan (sorry, I just love to embarrass him!), and a police stopped us. At first the police was stern and annoying, but after giving my dad a ticket he turned into this wonder guy! For 30 minutes he then told us stories about New Zealand and some Maori legends about the relationship between two of the volcanoes and it was fascinating!!! I don’t want to encourage speeding, but this time it was so worth it!!! BTW, I just have to point out that I have never been caught speeding.

On my first day in Los Angeles we were up bright and early because of jet-lag (I like jet-lag when traveling west, because that’s the only time I ever wake up early without hating it!) and while waiting for things to open we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Needless to say, we were the only people out walking. I’ve learned that it’s not very common in California (compared to in Europe anyway), except for this one guy I met on the sidewalk. He surprised me by saying “Welcome to Los Angeles!” – Without a hello or anything! I’ve got no idea how he knew we had just arrived, I never thought to ask. But we got chatting and talked for quite some time. Turned out he had been to Sweden and knew places I knew too. He was really nice and it was such a neat thing to happen on my first day in Los Angeles – I felt very welcome!

On the flight from Sydney, Australia to Mumbai (Bombay), India we met Mr. Ohm. I was up walking and I happened to be looking out of one of the windows at the wonderful red Australian desert beneath us when this guy comes up to me and starts talking. At first I was a bit uncertain since I had no idea whatsoever who he was, but soon my curiosity won me over. And my parents joined me and they continued talking with him for hours (that’s the thing with long flights, you’ve got plenty of time to get to know new people!), long after I got tired and turned my attention to some movie. Anyway, it turned out this Mr. Ohm had a travel agency Orbitz in Mumbai and he arranged tours to Europe for Indians among other things. This time he’d been a guide on a trip to Australia. He was full of information about traveling, both in India and all over the rest of the world. In the end he gave us his business card. So the next day we visited his travel agency office where he told us about the different parts of India and helped us to decide where to spend the next couple of weeks. Which places to visit, which hotels to stay in, what to see and what to do. This was perfect for us since we had no plans and only a Lonely Planet guide to help us. Not that Lonely Planet India isn’t a perfectly good book, but I’m afraid none of us had patience to study all the 1000+ pages to see what might interest us…

These were people that I met once (so far, at least) and never again. They were strangers that I only met briefly but never forgot because of the great impression their kindness made on me. Then there are those whom you meets randomly with no idea how significant this one meeting will have on your future life.

Friends

Me and my sister together with our newly found friends in Spain 2003

There’s this wonderful example from that time 8 years ago when my mum started talking to a guy while they were both doing the dishes at a camping in southern Spain… It turned out he was Swedish and he was there with his wife and their 4 daughters who were the same ages as me and my siblings. Those girls have been our best friends ever since then! Even when we don’t see each other for 6 months because we happen to in different parts of the world we always keep in contact and I love every moment I spend with them!

Still friends

The four of us today, still best friends!

Thank god my mum was doing the dishes that day!!! And I’m afraid to think that if we’d stayed at home we’d probably never have met them, even though they are Swedish too. Sometimes you have to go to the other side of the world to finally meet a neighbor!

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In the book The Importance Of Living,by Lin Yutang, in the chapter “The Enjoyment of Travel”, he talks about seeing. That many tourists who sees a lot of things, really doesn’t see anything, and others who doesn’t see much, sees a whole lot. He then says that the philosophy of travel is about seeing things, and then it really doesn’t matter how or where we travel. But the important things to bring, wherever you go, are your eyes and your heart.

We find this very interesting. That travel really is about seeing. And not necessarily seeing the Eiffel tower or the Pyramids (even if they could be part of it too), but more seeing yourself.

When we experience situations and people and the world around us, we also get a chance to experience ourselves.

To travel is to see

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” Henry Miller

Who am I in relation to all this?
What do I think?
What do I like?
What are my preferences?
What are my opinions?
What abilities do I have?
What do I really love?

These are of course things we can reflect on all the time, everywhere, even at home. We don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to “see”.

Often, it’s not that easy though. In our everyday living we usually don’t take the time to “see” things and reflect on them. We are surrounded by familiar people, well known things and “normal” situations which make us a bit “blind” – home blind.

It’s often much easier then to experience – to “see” the world and get a perspective on your life when you let go of the things you normally have around you and place yourself in new situations. Here, you can see with new eyes.

When you travel around in the world, the impressions are so much stronger (for most people) then when you take the bus to your job or stand in line at the supermarket.

When you travel you often get amazed and surprised and think thoughts like “wow, so that’s how you can do things!”. Or, “how many different ways there really are to live your life!” Or you marvel over nature or over the abilities we humans really have, when you see things from “above”, when you experience the world from a new angle.

We do agree with Lin Yutang that this, to “see”, in the deepest meaning of the world, is the real meaning of travel!

“I’m not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world”
Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey

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This is a question which has as many answers as there are people. We’re all motivated by our different circumstances and needs. When we have discussed WHY TRAVEL with people, the answer can first seem obvious, to have fun, to relax, to find adventure, but when you think about it some more, there are so many other different reasons behind these.

Some travel to leave something. A boring job, a relationship, a family situation that doesn’t work.Other people are more motivated by going towards something. Their answer to the “why travel” is more about seeking adventure, meeting new people, seeing new things, creating a new relationship to one or more fellow travelers (or to oneself).

Even if your intention may be to leave everything at home and just go away, you sometimes find yourself bringing lots of stuff along the way

Even if your intention may be to leave everything at home and just go away, you sometimes find yourself bringing lots of stuff along the way

Often though, it’s a combination of both. We travel because we want to leave something behind and at the same time we want to experience all this new.

Here’s some of what we’ve heard:

-I want to see and experience things in reality, not only watch the world from the TV screen

-I want to get closer to my kids, to spend time with them and do exciting things together as a family

-I just need to be able to relax which I can’t do at home with everything around me

-I love to see different ways of living and doing things, it gives me a perspective on my own life

-I need to get away from my heavy, “must filled” everyday and learn to have more fun.

-I want to start a new life

For ourselves, we can probably agree with all of these reasons. Different trips also fill different needs. One time, we totally left an old life and went for something new. Another time, we mainly wanted to connect with new kinds of people. At another occasion, we went on a long journey to try out a totally different way of living that we thought was what we wanted (which we realised really wasn’t our thing). And of course, whatever your reason for going away is, you are sure to come back (if you want to come back?) filled with all sorts of experiences and insights.

So, what would be your biggest motivation to travel?

Why would you want to go away?

We encourage you to think about it for a while. Have a look at some of the ideas we and other people have that are presented on our site, especially on: What To Do While Traveling and read some more reflections on Why travel

We’re also looking forward to hearing about what motivates you to travel or to think about traveling!

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