Over and over again the travelers argue that one of the best things about traveling is living the dream that was impossible in their daily life dominated by a routine. Every now and then the routine is blamed for the general unhappiness, dullness or even depression. Selling your house and car and starting a journey is considered not only the best antidote for this sickness but, most of the time, as an act of courage. But if you think for a while this proves to be far from healthy logic and, for sure, from the human knowledge on behavior and learning. It made me think, why travelers hate routine so much and here are few thoughts on this issue out of my own experience as a long term traveler.
In most cases, the routine involves boring regular job from 9:00 to 17:00, followed by a conclusion that people who perform their duties on an everyday basis are tired, burnt out and unhappy. A routine emphasizes doing the same things every day with no pleasure out of it. And writers are very quick in judging how unhappy these people are and how terribly they are wasting their time.
Quite skillfully writers and bloggers follow this logic to a smooth discovery: you should change it! I wholeheartedly agree with the need for a change but with what I’m having difficulties to agree on is that travels make it for you.
Before I’ll go further in the discussing the illusion of this belief, let me stop for a while and show you how the routine is good for you. Every possible guide on healthy lifestyle argues about healthy sleep habits, proper diet, physical activities and healthy relationships. If you feel that you are missing something in your life, if you feel down, if you realized that your current status is not something you dreamed about, you can change it. Anytime, really. And there is no need to sell everything and travel.
On the contrary: travel will make all of the above more difficult to introduce a change into your life.
To make a real difference in your life, like building any healthy habit, you need time, patience and recurrence. Out of the three, the last one is a decisive factor if the process of improvement is successful. Philosophy of zen argues that you need as many as 21 days of repeated action to turn it into a habit. Three weeks is a long time. And if you change your hotel or even country twice during that time you effort of changing things looks like mission impossible.
Thus, people prefer to believe that instead of a regular effort and recurrence of their actions there is an alternative solution. A travel comes handy. Preferably one year long and round the world. It definitely brakes the routine, but it is much less successful in helping you keeping good habits, personal growth, and a meaningful life.
What happens if you travel continuously for months or years? First thing is that you cut the ties that connected you with the place you lived in and people you lived with. Sure, you keep telling stories about the city you come from to all people you meet along the way and you are trying to keep your family and friends informed about travels but let’s face it: it is different. And you might feel quite happy about it until you realize you belong neither here nor there.
Some people need years to realize that a lifestyle focused on continuous travel makes you very distant from ‘normal’ people and their ‘boring’ lives. And it is true for both: people you left at home and also exotic and new people you meet when you travel. And some day you simply realize that even those who are left at home have changed and that there is nothing to talk about with them. Perhaps you experience it when you go home for couple of weeks and after only a few days, when the emotions cool down, apart of telling fantastic stories there is not much left out of the things you had in common.
The best is the enemy of the good
You may say that everything has a price to pay and particular difficulties referred to long term traveling is no different. True. But have you really thought about it before you decided that full time traveling is what solves all your problems?
A routine gives you a sense of stability, security, and continuity. All conditions that you need for your personal development. I’m not saying that travels make personal development impossible, but I’m arguing it makes it harder.
“I like challenges” – you may say. Perhaps you do. If so, why don’t you try to work on yourself first, in your every day and “boring” life and travel when all your serious problems were sorted out. Personal development, becoming a better person and having a positive attitude towards the world and the people is important.
Start before you go.