Travel: A Verb

I don’t talk about travel very often in the real world. Thankfully, my parents are supportive, but Luke’s family hates it. They can’t understand why a woman of 25 doesn’t want to get married, produce offspring and live in a nice suburban home. The people I work with are even worse.

In the rare instances that I do bring it up and share my long term travel plans (anything longer than 2 weeks), the question “but what are you going to do?” comes up.

I never know what to say, because in my mind, travel is doing. It’s a verb and it stands alone as an activity. The simple response, “I am traveling”  should be enough of an explanation as to what I am doing, but it isn’t. People expect more. I should be saving the world, or working through God, or have some sort of noble purpose. Traveling just to travel isn’t good enough.

Why is it that travel for travels sake isn’t viewed as a meaningful activity?

Instead it’s seen as a selfish, money-wasting, unproductive endeavor laking any sort of purpose. I get the impression from most people that if you aren’t going on your honeymoon or on a mission trip to Africa there is no point. Most people roll their eyes and quickly change the subject, thinking it frivolous and that I am a conceited jerk for even wanting to talk about travel. They may even think I’m irresponsible and avoiding my adulthood responsibilities.

I disagree.

Travel is “doing something”. And it’s doing something meaningful. It’s the most authentic learning experience there is, one that no amount of technology can change. It teaches you empathy, humility and kindness. Travel shows you another perspective of the world in a way that no book or movie ever could. It’s made me stronger. It’s made me happier.

EasternEurope 2012 2 2839

Tired, stinky, and sweaty, but happier than ever.

If travel is defined as moving from one place to another, then the sheer act of moving is doing.

Volunteering, working, or taking cooking/language classes are other activities you can do that add enrichment to travel, but you don’t need them for travel to be meaningful. Just the act of observation and participation in an environment different than your own is doing something worthwhile.

I think Robert Louis Stevenson said it best:

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” 

Whether you call it travel, vacation, holiday, or something else entirely, the act of traveling with or without a reason is an activity, a verb in itself with its own purpose. No further explanation needed.

Next time someone asks, “but what are you going to do?” I’m going to respond with, “I’m going to live.”

That should clear up any confusion.


What do you think? Do you think travel can stand alone as a meaningful activity or is it “doing nothing”? Does your family support your travel lifestyle?

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