I hear a lot of stories about how hard it is with their family and friends on the subject: Travel. The desire to seeing the world, learning more and wanting more are the extremely hard thing to understand for some or many people. And as travelers, we are accused of a lot of different statements. It happened and is happening to me constantly. Usually including the word ‘selfish’. All the problems are starting because the universal belief, different is wrong.

Here are seven statements that we often face. If you are still questioning, I will answer it for you; you are Not.

Looking down on people who are living a conventional life

People often take everything very personally. ‘This office job is not for me’ is translated to ‘I think this is a petty job’. And ‘I want to travel the world’ somehow ‘I feel sorry for you to stuck here forever’. Maybe it’s my attitude? Maybe. But I truly believe the misinterpretation came from the inferiority complex. The regret to not live the perfect life, jealousy, and the lack of courage to make some changes. I never said the conventional life style is wrong. And you know what? I want to do all the things what everybody does, but just not right at this second. I never judged, and never made any assumption. I only speak for my own experiences, and my well being. Don’t let people project their own problem to you.

Making an excuse to not live a life

There’s no right way to live a life. There could be common decency and common sense, but still, there’s no correct answer. Because, as we all know so very well, all the individuals are different. Whatever you do, if you have a purpose and a reason, you are living a life. As my friend Katie described it, we have this response from people because they misunderstand travel as a holiday. Of course, we travel because we like, and it’s way more interesting than working in the cubicle. But also, the life of a traveler is not easy, just like the cubicle life is not easy. Royal to things that make us happy, is not an excuse. It can be, but at least it’s not a lame one.

Being selfish

Everybody on this planet is selfish. It’s universal. Individual’s comfort is in higher priority than anybody else’s. Unless you are a monk or a father or any other religious or philosophical person, I bet you are selfish. But, I realized it from inflight video, that we have to put our own oxygen mask first. If I have my oxygen mask on and just watch the passenger next to me suffering, that would be wrong. Then you can accuse me of being selfish. In order to live a happy life, the individual has to be happy on his or her own. Interaction with people is a key to happier life, not the absolute governing factor. Making yourself happy is not selfish.

Wasting money

Your $200 rubber boots allow me to live 10 days in Southeast Asia.

Your $40,000 car can make my two years of RTW trip come true.

Your $5 coffee is a night in a dorm room.

I can rent a bike for $2, and enjoy the perfect scenery for free.

While you are eating $30 dinner, I’m having $.50 beer and $2 king size meal.

Your one crazy night with $100 bill can support my two week’s supply of groceries.

While you are having a party with your coworkers, spending God knows how much money, I’m watching the most beautiful sunset at the beach for free.

I honestly don’t know who’s wasting money.

It’s a matter of priority.

Losing your moment

Everything has the right timing, and I agree with that. That is why I travel. ‘Everything’ can be different. But yes, everything has their own timing and I believe this is the right time to go out there and see more of the world. Before it’s too late. Isn’t that enough reason? We don’t have to agree on what is ‘everything’, do we? I’m asking you, my readers and my friends, do you think you are, I am losing your time to be a better, happier person? Or, are you fulfilling your every day with passion and love? I can proudly say I am having my time of life. This is my moment.

Proving yourself to others

Who do you live life for? When you are surrounded by people who don’t support or agree with you, it’s easy to think ‘I’m going to prove how great I am.’ Because everyone needs approval. That’s not shameful. Everyone needs support, a comfort place, and needs to hear ‘you are doing great. Everything will be okay’ time to time. But be careful, sometimes we need to shake head and look back, who is it for? Are you making other people happy because you want the approval? If the answer is yes than you have to rearrange your decisions. Life shouldn’t be a boxing ring; everyone is watching you holding money and you are fighting for them. You don’t need to prove them, whoever they are, that you are happy and healthy. No matter how you are trying, if they don’t see it, there’s nothing you can do. Put your energy on yourself, not on what other people’s thinking about you.

Deliberately hurting people who care about you

When I was accused by that, I wanted to ask the same question. Isn’t this the same thing, hurting me, by saying these stuff? Once I said on my other post, ‘It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you anymore’, other people are nothing to do with my plan. If I want to hurt anybody, I would’ve done long time ago with more hurtful way. How can the fact that I’m traveling be a knife? And how can people make a life long plan to only hurt other people?

Have you ever thought about these? Do you agree?

21 thoughts on “Traveler’s Dilemma: What you are NOT”

  1. I guess I’m very lucky that I was brought up to think travel is the norm, not the other way around. I’m not planning to be a RTW blogger, nor a digital nomad. I like having my house & my dog & my (cheap, small but lovely) car. My husband & I are working on finding the balance that works for us & our life conditions. It probably is selfish, but when you make yourself happy, I agree that it also makes it easier to help others.

  2. Love the examples about wasting money. Another good one I like is adding up how much one tends to spend at Starbucks a month. That can easily be a trip alone. For me I wouldn’t save much since I don’t drink coffee. 🙂

  3. Confession time: I think sometimes I DO look down on other people who want to live a conventional life but I think that’s only because I am so passionate about making myself happy rather than leading the life that I’m “supposed” to lead: would paying a mortgate and working a job I hate make me happy? No, so why do it? 🙂

    My favourite line from this post is: “Making yourself happy is not selfish” and you’re absolutely right.

  4. This is so ridiculously spot on!

    I was just asked yesterday how I could afford to travel to “exotic” destinations and so often. In the same sentence they made fun of my 13 year old car and my lack of need to be a homeowner. Hello, let me introduce you to “Priorities”. I just choose travel over most things…except food. I heart food.

  5. I can’t tell you how much I love this post! I’ve definitely come across those attitudes from people – although mostly from strangers I meet on my travels, not from friends or families back home. They tend to get it a bit more.
    Still, great responses for next time someone accuses me of being selfish of wasting money! 🙂

  6. I’m so glad you put these statements into context — Especially the question, “When are you going to stop running around putting off your ‘real’ life?” You’re right: people think of travel as a holiday, as a vacation away from their normal lives. I’ve also gotten the question from some family members about wasting money. They ask, “Why aren’t you investing all that money instead of wasting it on trips?”
    I guess the best way to genuinely respond to these kinds of questions is to try and explain the traveler’s world-view, that visiting other parts of the world IS an investment. We become more open, more resourceful, more self-sufficient people. And in this process, we aren’t putting our “real” lives on hold — we are creating our real lives with every place we go and every new person we meet. There’s only one Earth, and travelers have made it their goal to understand as much of it as possible. Put in those terms, it doesn’t seem so farfetched a life after all.

  7. I like this post, despite the fact you judge my coffee. (sp!) But just as a note, there is a typo in the title. What your are not should either be: what you are not or what you’re not.

  8. Making yourself happy and it’s not selfish is true! Everyone has a different priority in life. Some can be travel, some can be children, some can be career. I agree with you that just beacuse yu have a different goal it doesn’t mean you’re any different then people who has 9-5 job. You’re just trying to be happy like everyone who try to make their ends meet and think they’re happy.

  9. Honestly, I DO feel sorry for people living the conventional life, when they have a job they don’t like and keep doing it forever.
    Anyway, reading the “wasting money” section, I was like “hell yeah!!!” at every point. Spot on hun!!!

  10. Hey there, love this post! I have to say I am a little surprised that you (and others) meet so much judgement when you tell about your plans. Whenever people hear about ours, they are either genuinly excited and interested, or they show their true friend face and become jealous. But never, ever have anybody said to my face that I am selfish! Guess I have been lucky 🙂 Fingers crossed it stays that way! I stumbled upon your blog only last week – it’s a great one, have added you to my reader. Looking forward to seeing what you are up to!

    Cheers, Kjersti

    1. Hey Kjersti, thanks for the good words and I’m glad you found me! 🙂 Yeah, the problems and judgements are not getting any easier, but the important thing is there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’m still me, and I can’t change people. So… I guess this is my baggage. 🙂
      Good luck with your expedition!

  11. I’ll have to admit a few things;

    wasting money is a hard thing to NOT do especially for Americans me included unfortunately but part of that is laziness and I’m trying to get ready for my RTW trip and some things aren’t worth hassling about. Unfortunately I can waste a lot more money than what you describe here, but I’ve been working on changing all of that and hope to reduce the wastage factor.

    My mom doesn’t really say much when I say I want to travel the world or just travel, she understands that concept but she doesn’t think I will be able to manage travel where its vastly different than what I’m used to but her reason for that is one step outside the box of this post and that is my disability.

    Now, as to be on topic: right now I’m not sure is conventional life is good or bad, I got tired of the same old crap so I’m traveling for change to see if that’s any better for me but I will judge people (unfortunately) who end up working for corporations as robots or slaves whatever… I will never work for another major corporation again its just stupid but that’s another topic. I don’t view having a job as a bad thing, but working for a corporation IS with the way they run things.

    Americans have issues accepting the backpacker/extended travel concepts just like many other cultures do though probably not as prevailent; I have missed out on family things… I can’t be there for everything even if I wasn’t traveling what difference does it make? If I am not cut out for travel then I am definetely going to volunteer my life away instead and travel around that.

  12. Great post Juno! I totally agree. My parents have never understood what do I gain from my travels. But please don’t be sad when people say these things to you, it’s really not you, it’s them, it’s their limitations that stop them from seeing what travel really means to you.

  13. First off, I applaud you for writing in a second language. Writing in a first is hard enough! I enjoyed this post. Sometimes I feel guilty for being away from my family for such long periods of time 🙁 But we as travelers know that travel makes us the happiest, so we endure the hard parts. Again, thanks for sharing your feelings…I’m sure many people feel the same 🙂

    1. Everyone has different calling and entitle to change it as they wish. If travel makes us happy and helps us to be a better person, that’s our calling. Family can be judgemental, and the word selfish can be used in a lot of occasions but If they do so, they are being selfish as well.

  14. I think you’re very right in what you are saying. I don’t think anyone has ever said the above about me – I think perhaps I’ve always traveled with a clearly evident purpose (usually work) or it was a trade off for something else so people kind of understood. Most travelers seem to be doing their thing with a good attitude, but the thing that really gets me is when a few people are openly like “Why are these people so satisfied with boring 9 to 5” or something that effect and kind of put people who stay at home down. Imagine the chaos if everyone did just up and off!

    1. Yes, exactly. Sometimes people (in traveler’s world) judge people so easily just because they are living the different life that they left. Well, I’m all about not living 9-5, but I respect people who stick to it because either they love or they have to. It’s just differences. We don’t have to be someone else to be happy, you know?

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