Jun 13, 2012
This is one of those situations where I’m finding that people don’t actually believe me. This isn’t a joke, it’s not a trick – in fact, I think that most people will be happier if they don’t travel. I don’t recommend that most people travel.
Does that mean that I’m not going to travel any more? No, of course not. In the immortal words of J.R. Bob Dobbs “Of course I don’t practice what I preach, I’m not the kind of person I’m preaching to.”
Does it mean that I am retracting all my travel advice or unpublishing my books about travel? Of course not, don’t be silly. If you are going to travel, I suggest that you travel in the ways I’ve suggested in Liminal Travel or in my forthcoming book Smooth Living: More Tips and Tales of a Vagabond. If you are going to travel, this is how you should do it.
The fact is though, for most of you, the best advice I could give you is to not travel. Your time is far better spent taking a walk through your neighborhood, playing with your kids or the kids of your friends, sitting down and writing that story you’ve been thinking about, taking a class on life-drawing, or just sitting in a coffee shop with a good book.
The reason I’m saying that, is simple. As I travel, I see a lot of people who are disappointed and frankly, just not having a good time. The reasons they are traveling are all wrong. They are traveling to check things off on a list, they are traveling to impress people, they are traveling to escape from a life they find dull and dreary. In fact, they are bringing that dull and dreary life with them and the things they are looking for – well, chances are they don’t exist where they are heading.
Hey, if you are going to do some serious life changing travel, I support you in that. If you are going to go to Paris and see the great works of art in the Louvre because you love great art, that is cool. If you are going to India to spend time in an ashram, right on. If you are doing something to fuel your passions – that’s great. I support you.
That’s not the case with most of the people I see traveling though. They are traveling because they are bored. They are traveling because their lives are meaningless. They are traveling because they can’t think of anything better to do. And you know what? They are making travel boring and meaningless.
Do you read travel blogs? (This, by the way, is not a travel blog – it’s not even a blog) I’m guessing that you don’t. You know why? Because they are fucking boring and written by boring people who are doing everything they can to not seem like they are boring. Travel bloggers are some of the most boring people I’ve ever met. Ask them what they are passionate about and the answer is usually something like ‘Oh, what? Yeah, I love to travel.” Yeah, how fucking boring.
You want to know why I travel? I travel because I’m hoping to find a people or a culture that hasn’t been destroyed by American culture. I hope to find people that enjoy singing more than they enjoy listening to songs. I want to find people who value making art above collecting art. I want to meet the people who grow the foods, make the artisanal products. I travel in the hopes of finding a place where people are doing things because they love them, not because they have to make a living.
In fact, I travel because back in 2000, the disgusting civilization we live in didn’t collapse like I’d been hoping it would. At that point, I found myself to be in the same position as most Americans. I was terrified that I was going to lose my job and didn’t know if I would be able to survive without any money. When I recognized that, I left my job and set about living for a year without a job or a means of income, without a house, without the things people think they need to survive. That experiment yielded Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond which you should buy and read right now.
I’m not saying you should buy it so you can be homeless like I was, you should buy it so you can stop being afraid. You should read it and think about what it is that makes you happy, makes you passionate.
Travel doesn’t make you happy. It’s not a solution to your problems. It won’t even relieve your boredom. Trust me, sitting on a plane, sitting in an airport, sitting on a bus, sitting in a hotel room – these are boring things. This is most of what travel provides. Personally, I like that time. Most people don’t. I use that time to read, think, meditate, write, and ruminate.
I dream of a time when I can stop traveling. I dream of a time when I can work in my garden, take a walk, read a book, and enjoy where I am. Oh yeah, that time is now! Man am I glad that I’m not traveling!