Why Do You Travel?

Why Do You Travel?

Written by Emilie

Topics: Traveling

As I make my way down the coast, I’ve started wondering about my intentions. Why am I traveling right now? What’s the point of this trip?

To most people, the “point” of traveling seems self-evident. You get to see the world, meet interesting people, have adventures. Traveling in and of itself, is the point. Logically, I know why I’m “supposed” to want to travel. But for some reason these motivations aren’t resonating with me on an emotional level right now.

I think this trip may have originally been about different motives. Traveling with another person can create a deep bond. Circumstances have changed, however, and this trip is no longer “ours,” but mine. Now that I’m on this path alone, it feels important to redefine its meaning– to figure out my why.

But then again, maybe I will never understand the significance of this trip, or maybe it will reveal itself long after the trip is over.

All I know is that I’m feeling the drive to keep going, and for now I’ll just have to trust that. At least until I come up with something better.

Why do you travel?


  1. Tim Webster says:

    Being in a new geographic location, for me, offers a bit of conscious expansion that I normally wouldn’t be able to achieve in a well known area.

    They say, ‘Where ever you go, there you are’ but not entirely. I believe that we don’t necessarily bring all of ourselves to a new place, we leave a little bit behind, and that allows us to be a bit more open to new experiences and learnings. =)

    Be safe as you continue your journey!

    • Emilie says:

      Very true. I know one of the main reasons I moved away from Montreal was that it was just too familiar. It felt like I couldn’t be “anyone I wanted to be.” Everything was too comfortable. There’s definitely something to be said for being able to explore a new side of yourself in a new place.

  2. Jason Moore says:

    Embrace the unknown and let the the lessons reveal themselves. Most importantly, have fun out there:) I wish you safe and happy travels!

  3. I have traveled a LOT this year as part of a mastermind program. For me, it was about getting outside of my comfort zone, trying new things, learning how to be out in the world without my “extrovert shield” (aka boyfriend) and of course, learning, growing and getting to be in new and exciting places. Before this year, I mainly traveled just to see family. For 2012, I plan to do a lot of adventuring on my own to events I want to attend, places I’ve never been and just to try new things that will challenge me. Safe travels! xo

    • Emilie says:

      Very cool, Stephenie. I love the idea of traveling as part of a mastermind group. I might do something like that in the future. Or hell, maybe I’ll even do the “speaking circuit,” as part of my public speaking goal next year… Hm.

      Let me know if you ever swing by Portland!

  4. Kiwi says:

    For me it’s a part of.. living.
    I feel time on this earth is short and I want to see, feel, hear, taste, smell as much as I can. The world is so big with so many different things to see, feel, etc. Why should I -not- go and experience that when I can?

    Plus, like you said I like what it gives me in retrospect. Things often make more sense in retrospect. You learn. Always. But I think so much more when you go out there and experience all the different things the world has to offer. I love to learn. I love to grow.


  5. Michelle says:

    I mostly travel for specific purposes, to go see this or that art, to go see some nature place.

    In general though, travelling just makes me feel homeless. The idea that in this new place people apparently live and have lives.. this always seems to surprise me. I think about where I call home, and how far off it is from what I’d like to call home in my heart. In cities I’m reminded of how like where I live, this place neither is where I belong for long. So it’s not a very pleasant thing, travelling.

    But I endure it, and I tolerate the lows that come with doing it (of which there are several). There’s something about searching for, or something in discovering, a space. Getting to see the things that aren’t mentioned about a place is interesting. Like how they line up all the garbage bags in NYC, so orderly. Or seeing what other people tolerate as normal in their daily lives, even if it’s horrible. Then I can reflect on the things which are horrible yet I accept about wherever it is I’m living.

    Travelling is about watching, watching all the things that you’ve stopped caring for watching back home. For me anyways, I’m not much of a mingler all in all.

    • Emilie says:

      I can totally relate, Michelle. I often feel very lonely traveling, and I certainly felt like I didn’t fit in in Denmark, even after 5 months living there.

      However, this is also probably the biggest challenge I’m trying to overcome on my current trip. I’m finding it a lot easier this time, I think because California really isn’t that different from Portland, or even Montreal. It’s not so hard to relate to people. I’m also in a different space mentally than I was last year in Denmark. But yeah, I totally hear you.

  6. simone says:

    My favorite part of travelling is getting to come home. When you come home, you do so with a fresh head and an appreciation of home like never before. It challenges and intensifies your identity because it puts you out of context and you have to constantly be engaged with the question of “what the heck am I? where do I belong?”

    Also, Emilie, since this is related-ish: I love your writing about your time in Denmark. I had a similar study abroad experience… Everybody was all “omgggg you were in Italy it must have been amaaazing” and I, of course, went fantasizing about the cobblestone streets and European friends you speak of. But no, it was one of the worst times of my life and I spent most of it being completely lonely. Coming home to the States was one of the happiest days of my life. And, for the most part, I was too embarrassed to tell other people the truth about my experience there; it somehow felt like “failure” because they were expecting me to gush about wonderful pasta and friendly people.

    I’ve gotten a lot better at traveling in the sense that I’ve gotten better at taking care of myself and anticipating my needs. A lot of that is giving myself a break when things don’t go as planned and being resourceful. Thanks for the chance to ruminate on these topics! One could write a book on these…

    • Emilie says:

      Maybe one should… ;) (go for it, you’re such a good writer!)

      It’s nice to hear about your experience in Italy. That’s exactly how it felt for me, returning to Montreal. Everything was so sweet. I really treasured those five months I spent living back at home between Denmark and Portland. I feel like I connected with my mom on a deeper lever than ever before, and it just really gave me a new perspective on my life.

      And you’re absolutely right about anticipating your own needs. I’ve learned that too, in a big way. Even on this trip, I’ve learned that I can be spontaneous but it needs to be within a framework. I need to work in the morning or I don’t feel inspired for the day, I need access to a kitchen and grocery store so that I can prepare my meals, and I need to know where I’m sleeping at least a little in advance. Otherwise I just worry and can’t enjoy myself.

      It’s really important to know your own priorities when there’s so much uncertainty.

      Thanks for the comment, Simone. Always nice to hear from you.

  7. I travel as a constant reminder that there is more to life than these streets, this city, this life here in Toronto.

    I travel because it reminds me what is really important, and slowly changes the way I view my current life each and every time I venture somewhere new.

    I travel because each time I come home, I have a new appreciation for my life here – the familiar, the mundane, the routine. It all starts to mean something new to me after living without it for so long.

    I travel for the adventure of it. The discomfort. And the comfort.

    • Emilie says:

      Very nicely put. I like that it doesn’t all have to be about seeing the world. It seems like traveling can be just as much about understanding your home.

      • Ian says:

        There is nothing like showing your visitors around to make you appreciate where you live. Seen through fresh eyes and all that.

        Our free holiday time constantly gets eroded showing visitors around though. Don’t know whether that is a good thing or not! Guess the alternative would mean living somewhere boring that no one wants to visit!

  8. Rob says:

    Hi Em!

    Why do I travel? There are many reasons, though I’m sure I’m not conscious of all of them. Here are a few I do know:

    – Ever since I was a young child I’ve admired the adventurers, the “worldly” people, those that left the confines of their normal existence and expanded their horizons. They struck me as brave, self-reliant, and as possessing a type of practical wisdom. I want to strive for that.

    – I crave new experiences. Travel often provides them.

    – There are so many ways and types of life, and I feel compelled to know as many of them as I can. T.S. Eliot said it well: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

    – I’m searching for something, though I’m not sure what it is.

    – It scares me sometimes. Sometimes I’m lonely. Getting past those things can be a good feeling. It makes me feel more resilient.

    – It can be a lot of fun!


    • Emilie says:

      A very nice list.

      Sometimes when I’m traveling, I forget that other people get lonely too. For instance, I was at a huge hostel for the last few nights, and everyone just seemed to be having so much fun in their big groups, drinking. I really had no interest in joining them. But I still felt weird about not joining (or wanting to join). The “shoulds” seem to pop into my head more when I’m traveling– maybe because it’s so new. But there is no “right way” to travel, and I need to remember that.

      Now I’ve moved to a smaller hostel that is much more comfortable. The people are really nice and I just feel like I can be myself here, even if that means being just as independent.

      Thanks for inducing this reflection, Rob. :)

  9. Ian says:

    Hi Emilie,
    Glad its going ok.

    I lived in Uganda for a couple of years and the Ugandans have a saying that translates to…..

    “A man who has never left his home village, thinks that his mother is the best cook in the world!”

    I never forgot that, as it seems to embody my reasons to live in lots of places, simply for the sheer experience of it all. Staying in the same place my whole life would make me feel that I had missed something.

    Having said that, I sometimes look at my father with his lifelong buddies fooling around. Joshing each other in a way that only people can that have been around each other for 60 years and know that I am also missing something there too…….. Proving that you can’t have it all!

    p.s. Hostels used to scare the heck outa me! How come it always feels like everyone there already knows each other…..

    Stay well!

    • Emilie says:

      I like that, Ian. As a notorious over-thinker, it’s been good for me to just have experiences. I’m starting to appreciate them for exactly what they are.

      And I know, right? How does everybody already know each other?! lol.

  10. Harrison says:

    I travel, because its in my blood.

    No for real though, I just have the travel bug in me. Many things I’ve encountered help elevate my travel experiences which include staying with Couchsurfers and learning about vagabond traveling through the travel twitter/blogosphere.

    But more importantly, I find that my personal passions are already aligned with traveling. Take for example, my love for surfing … going to coastlines is travel. My love for apparel … clothing is made in various overseas countries. And I could go on and on. But overall, travel helps us broaden and expand our “perceptions” of the world.

    • Emilie says:

      Totally. A big part of this trip for me is definitely appreciating the “nomadic” aspect of running a digital business. For the first time in my life, I’m working on the road. It’s been so interesting to see the consistencies and differences when I move with my work. I really love it.

      It’s not exactly the same as traveling somewhere for a passion-based purpose, but it’s similar since my work is my passion.

  11. Josh says:

    Traveling does make us more interesting. We have more stories to tell and we become more well-rounded and culturally aware. Bloggers need to be interesting, that’s why we read them. Just like books, I’d rather read about someone biking through Africa or eating weird foods in Japan than someone who sits around watching TV all day.
    As for the moment it’s fun, a good escape from the norm which many of us need.

    • Emilie says:

      I agree, Josh. That’s actually something I say to multipotentialites a lot. It doesn’t matter if you study something and don’t “do anything” with it (though I would argue that all passion-driven knowledge gets “used” in some way later on). Pursuing all your interests just makes you a more interesting person, period. That alone is enough.

  12. Mmm… moving post. I likes. :)

    Meaning is *assigned*, the why is waiting for YOUR decision miss ;) Rock it!

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