A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from a friend (it’s been edited to exclude personal information):
What motivates you to travel and live abroad?
I’m questioning if I should continue to do it or start to make a stable life in Georgia.
I wonder if it’s worth it that I travel anymore. At times I feel that I don’t belong in Georgia. I think that’s because I haven’t nurtured a life here, but I kept myself focused on living abroad. I chose to limit my friendships or relationships with people at church, etc.
What about you? Do you have a well-rounded relationship with people at home in Toronto? Do you ever have regrets about leaving home or are you always comfortable to do it?
Pardon the cerebral thoughts, I just wondered what you thought about all this.
The message actually caught me off-guard a little bit – to be honest, I hadn’t thought about it all that much. When it came down to it, my motivation to travel was that I didn’t want the alternative. As it turns out, I really am one of those people using travel to run away from things. Beyond that, I knew that I had seen very little of the world despite the fact I am profoundly interested in cultures, languages and human behaviour – enough that I wanted to study them – so it only made sense that I should experience them as well.
That’s why my travel goals aren’t precisely laid out. I’m not one to say, “I will have travelled once I’ve been to Machu Picchu, dived the Great Barrier Reef and explored the Serengeti in a 4×4.” I essentially just want to experience life in places different from what I know. I don’t want to just see things – I want to participate in different societies and communities. What I get out of it, I won’t know until it’s over. To quote Steve Jobs (sorry to be trite), “You can’t connect the dots looking forward.”
My friend’s email got me interested in reasons people travel, so I did a call out to friends and in a couple of blogger groups. There are plenty of great reasons people want to travel…
…Just to see the world
The prospect of finding the perfect place motivates me to travel. I travel because I want to…for the kicks, the ups and downs, experiences and people.
My goals with travel are to see as many of the world’s landscapes & cultures as possible. Taste the food and see how people live there. Recently, I have set a country goals list. I would like to hit 30 countries while 27 and 50 by 28. Ideally, I will reach the 100+ mark in my early 30s.
‘Travel, Be Happy & Hustle’
I travel so that I may see the beauty that God created for other people, so that I may be able to experience, or at least witness, how other people live their lives and so that I may be able to inspire others to go out of their comfort zones and see more of the world
What motivates me to travel is the constant visual stimulation that I receive when I travel. I tend to travel overland, which is a slow method, but usually visually rich. I’m attracted to the shades of light and dark on the horizon, I enjoy the bright reds, deep blues and vibrant greens of nature. And I’m a bit of a goof, so I find it fun to try to make people smile, or better yet, laugh, even when I do not speak their language.
– Troy Wong has had many titles in his life including Peace Corp volunteer, banker, marketing manager…but he’s only truly good at travel. Check out his interesting story at The Adventure Begins.
My biggest driver is curiosity. I want to know what other parts of our planet looks like and experience different cultures. My goals are mainly satisfying my curiosity, learning about other cultures and meeting people from different countries. My motivations haven’t really changed since I started travelling, but the way I select my destinations has changed… I prefer to select destinations that are less travelled. I’ve found that places where fewer tourists go offer a better way to get to know the culture of a destination.
…To give children the experience of their lifetimes
After travelling to over 25 countries together, my husband and I have now set a new travel goal… to fill up our son’s passport with stamps. But it’s more than stamps. We’d like him to have unique travel experiences early on in life to learn about the world: how people are different, yet the same. Mostly we’d like him to see how lucky his life is and be grateful for what he has, and be a true world citizen.
– Sarah-Jane is an Australian expat living in Croatia with her husband and (very cute!) son while blogging at Chasing the Donkey. Keep up with Vladimir’s latest stamps by following them on Twitter and Facebook.
…As a means to learning
Learning more about this globe we live on is what motivates me to travel and there’s no better way to do that than the experience things firsthand. My goals in travelling are to learn and understand more about this world and to have amazing experiences.
On my very first international trip to Greece and Italy, my goals were mostly experience-based – I wanted to experience things I hadn’t been able to while growing up in a suburb in Northern California. Now, while it’s still about the experience, I’m more focused on understanding and learning more about the world. I live for that kind of knowledge and I believe it’s just so key to have in order to make a positive impact during my lifetime.
– Adina Marguerite, also known as the Gluten Free Travelette, is a writer, photographer based out of Seattle. She also happens share both my, and my mom’s, middle names, respectively. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to keep track of her gluten-free recipes and travel experiences.
My initial motivation to travel was having a family abroad and hearing foreign languages at home, where I saw how language, history and geography influence the different ways in which people interact and conduct their lives. This led me to study language and culture at uni, making travel more of an academic pursuit for me. I’ve been able to exchange with people who have a different life experience from my own, and that’s what motivates me to travel: the pleasure of learning and discovering culture as a way to have perspective on my own existence.
– Tom Dub, Language Graduate/The Manfriend
I’m motivated to travel because I believe it is one of the best ways to learn. No matter where I go or what kind of trip I take, I always end up learning something strange or wonderful or new. Travel has taught me so much: language, culture, food, history, society, fashion, religion, but most importantly, about friendship. This leads me to the other reason I’m motivated to travel: the people I meet. I love that travel challenges me and forces me to think different about the world, and I’m drawn to others like that. Inevitably, we seem to find each other on the road, and all of my best and most meaningful relationships, whether we’re ships passing in the night or friends for years, can be linked back to travel.
I’ve long accepted that I am addicted to travelling, and that I will forever lead a nomadic life. Since the beginning, my goals haven’t changed much; I want to see as much of the world as I can, and travel as morally, culturally, and environmentally responsible as possible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also added the goal of giving back to the cultures I spend time with, and to eventually finding a home (or homes) where I can great a guesthouse and/or women’s cooperative. On a lighter note, I also wish to dive in as many bodies of water as possible – and eventually dive with the elusive whale shark!
– Brenna of This Battered Suitcase is one of my favourite writers in the game. After many years of nomadic life, she’s settled in London doing a Masters in Creative Non-Fiction. For great stories and photos, follow her on Facebook and Twitter!
I’m motivated by travel in the sense that I always learn something new about myself when I do so. It could be taking a cue from a different culture, or the fact that chicken wings are my favourite food because I seem to miss them the most when I travel. I began travelling because I wanted to be anywhere but the place I was currently in. I wanted to know how other people lived, felt, and how their days differed from mine. I never really travel with a goal in mind, but I always learn something I didn’t know before. Travel is the ultimate education.
– Katka is a Contributing Editor and the Social Media Manager for Matador Network. She is based in New York and has worked in the travel industry for the past five years. Read more about how awesome she is at Katka Travels and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
…To Live Life to the Fullest
I believe I was born with a touch of wanderlust but it was the tragic death of my lifelong best friend at age 20 that really pushed me to travel. Long-term travel as an escape from life’s difficulties isn’t exactly healthy, but if you have the mindset that your adventures will awaken you to the jour of being alive, and allow you to make the most of your time on earth, I think that’s okay. The death of my friend was an enormous wake-up call to follow my dreams, and I’d like to think she is living vicariously through me now.
My present goal with travel is simple: to soak up as many experiences as possible that serve as constant reminders that I’m alive and to be grateful for this life because it is so brief.
– Christina is a travel addict with a passion for great food, healthy living, languages and international human rights. She blogs at the Fleeting Life – follow her goofball ways on Twitter and Facebook!
I’m motivated by these small, special moments that gather together when each is exciting in its own way, such as a good laugh with the kids, the excitement of seeing a new flower, the surprise from the beauty of nature. My goals are discovering new cultures, making new friends, tasting new foods, meeting new people, learning a new language, having new challenges and just to tap into new adventures.
– Meital is the CEO and Founder of Seek a Trip – check it out for your itinerary needs and/or submissions!
I sold the old homestead in the spring, was working 16 hour days for years when my boss gave me China and Juan de Fuca parks to manage on top of running French Beach Provincial Park. In short, I was burnt out. I feel that if I don’t go now, I may wait until it’s too late, I’m too old, too sick, too immobile, too many grandkids to stay and play with… My future self is telling me to go now so I won’t have the huge regret later in my life for not trying.
I’m going to be driving a truck and then boondocking, tenting, hostels, couchsurfing, house-sitting, WOOFing – I’m really hoping to make it to South America, but really, part of the thrill for me is having no destination!
– Velvet Hughes is busy Escaping My Comfort Zone - read about her experiences there!
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what motivated me to begin travelling. I think there were a lot of contributing factors, with main one being the loss of two younger family members within 6 months of each other. I realised life was far too short not to travel and live the life I wanted to live.
…The need to be on the move
I travel because I can’t stay still. I need to be constantly exploring and learning about the world. Since I began travelling, I’ve become less selfish and I’m more interested in understanding why the world is the way it is and how I can do my bit to make it a slightly better place for those less fortunate.
Travel has made me more empathetic, less self-centered, and more confident. I’m independent and love backpacking by myself, and I can make friends anywhere. While travelling full-time is definitely not like being on holiday I wouldn’t change my life for anything.
– Stacey is currently happy and backpacking through Southeast Asia after working as an au pair in San Diego and Chicago. You can find her at One Travels Far or by following her on Facebook and Twitter!
…Immersing oneself in something different
What motivates me to travel is the immersive experiences of different cultures, foods, people and the flora and fauna of the area. I guess it’s the air or mystery that a new place provides. When travelling my goals are to document and experience the place so I can not only share the experience with others, but also to keep a personal record of all the places that I have been around the world but since I have started travelling, it’s almost like an addiction to the unknown, every time I plan a trip I always get excited about getting away from my comfort zone and experiencing something new.
Seeing new places, meeting new people, the sheer experience is what motivates me to travel. Trying to understand how people go about life in different places. My goals are to experience as much as I can. To see everything that happens (both good and bad) as a cause to further my character development. I want to connect with locals and live how they live. When I travel, I’m not interested in five-star hotels and flashy cars. I want a backpack and give me a family from that country. Let me live they live and do what they do. I want to see what’s normal in a given area and do it also. My goals haven’t changed since I started travelling, but my thirst for it has gotten stronger.
– Miranda Joy, MatadorU student & expat in South Korea
When I first started travelling, I think my motivation was an uncontrollable thirst to figure out what life was all about. I knew that I would never really make it to an answer of course, but I just felt like seeing the world as the only way I could ever get close. A huge benefit of travelling is that you get to see all the incredible natural beauty that our planet has to offer, but for me that was just a bonus point of the side of something else. I’m far more fascinated by the human race, and discovering the ways in which different people on this planet live, and that’s what really makes me want to get on a plane and seek out new places. That was and always will be the main thing that excites me – cultural observations and immersing myself in the lives of locals wherever I go. Even though I won’t ever figure out what life is all about, exploring this earth and new ways to live has definitely given me a very good start.
– Emma is a UK-born budget and voluntourism blogger at her very cool site Gotta Keep Movin’. Based in Toronto (for now), she’s been to more than 20 countries since 2010! Follow her adventures on Facebook and Twitter!
I love the sense of adventure and feeling of discovery I get when I travel. Not to mention I feel so much more freedom when travelling. Mostly though, I just have a huge thing for nature. I almost became a zoologist and the knowledge that there are so many beautiful sights of nature that I have yet seen motivates me to get out and see more! Don’t even get me started on the wildlife!
I also have a fascination with ancient cultures, so my goal when I travel is usually to see a mix of that, animals in the wild and wilderness. Lately, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to be mindful in a place. I’ve become much more relaxed and seek out experiences that mean more to me, personally – which means more wilderness and less tourists.
– Lindsey Hodder is a photographer and perpetual traveller, blogging about it at Chasing the Wild. She has travelled extensively, but is currently attending university in Sydney so you can catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks everyone who took the time to craft a response and email/message me! I really appreciate you letting me use your words here and for the very personal and touching stories.
Yours in Travel,