Is Travelling Selfish?

We all have our own story as to how and why we choose to travel. Some people are more than happy travelling a few times a year while keeping a steady job back home, others feel that it’s something they’ve go to get out of their system, and there are those who just want to fling themselves across the globe and see where they end up. Which type of traveller are you? Have you quit your job or can you work whilst travelling?

The first thing I did after I decided to travel full time was to start reading more travel blogs. This lead me to ask myself some questions:

What are the pro’s and con’s of travelling full time?
Am I really going to travel solo?
What will my family think? (More importantly what will my sister think?)
Do I have the guts to actually do it?

After answering these questions and starting to plan when to leave and where to go, it occurred to me that I hadn’t asked myself something: am I being selfish? After all, what could be more selfish than quitting your job, leaving your friends and family behind, and giving ‘9-5 life’ the middle finger? It is all what I want to do, solo and on my own terms; no one else is benefiting from my plans, so I asked myself whether travelling really is all one way.

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Of course telling your family you’re leaving the country is met with a few doubtful reactions, but then the reality sets in and they realise that it’s something that is going to happen. This causes a mix of emotions; mainly a mixture of worry, encouragement, and excitement. I don’t think that when you’re making travel decisions you really consider how other people are actually feeling; you’re excited and can’t wait to get out there and explore the unknown…but is that shared by everyone? How are family feeling knowing that this is the last Christmas you’ll spend with them for some time? Naturally you see it as a way of celebrating before jetting off somewhere new; after all it is the start of your adventure. Why would anyone be feeling down or upset that you’re leaving to travel the globe; surely they should be feeling happy? I hadn’t considered this until I thought of my sister who, at 10 years old, will be going through enough changes by the time I leave as it is; moving house, starting ‘big’ school, and then her big brother leaves her to see the world…this feels like something that is very one way and possibly the only thing that concerns me about leaving.

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On the other end of the scale, friends seem to make light of most things a lot of the time, which is quite helpful when you consider that family only seem to worry. Being called a ‘jobless bum’ and a ‘fucking hippie’ are secretly words of encouragement from people who you’ve spent many a drunken night with, people who have seen you at your worst (and your best), and people who are happy for you but at the same time possibly think you’re a bit crazy for doing such a thing. These are the people who wonder whether you’re going to get drunk somewhere, pass out, then wake up with a kidney missing. You are going to miss these people a lot but there’s always the possibility that they think you’re leaving them behind without a second thought. This simply isn’t true…because when I’m sat with a cold beer on a beach somewhere, I will of course think of my friends back home!

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How often will you be contacting people back home? This is a question I’ve been asked before and I can assure you that ‘When I bloody well feel like it’ doesn’t go down too well as a response. Is it all one way if you only contact home when you have time rather than making time to do it? What if you don’t have enough money to visit home after a year or so? Or have to get home due to some sort of emergency?

I know before I’ve even left the country that travelling isn’t a ‘permanent holiday’ as suggested by the more humorous people in my family; you only have to read a few different blogs to realise that though seeing the world does have it’s advantages; it also has it’s disadvantages (as briefly mentioned above). None of my family have every travelled extensively or to anywhere out of the ordinary and, though it’s encouraging to be the first, it’s also slightly daunting. If people enjoy a better life in another country and can possibly help others on their travels, surely that isn’t a one way thing? I think that’s one thing I like about the ‘travelling community’; people are out all over the world on their own adventures but are more than willing to help others along the way. I think that all of these problems, and many more no doubt, are a part of what travelling is. It isn’t just about seeing the world and exploring, but is actually a full on adventure with it’s own set of difficulties.  Surely that is what makes it an adventure?

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Whether travelling full time or enjoying many trips every year; I think travelling changes you. I’ve been on a few trips over the last couple of years and after another two short trips this year I’ll finally be heading out on a new adventure. I would encourage anyone who likes to see new places and experience new things to travel alone at least once; who knows what might happen after that? It changed everything for me…