People tend to be a little surprised when I say stuff like, "I'm no traveler." They usually respond with, "...But you live in China."
It's quite possible to live abroad without embracing the traveler's way of life. I am probably the least traveled person in my immediate family. Our coworkers are often pretty surprised at how much we do stay around town--they frequently mention to us how previous foreign teachers traveled frequently and saw much of China during their sojourn here, which makes the fact that we stay in ShenZhen most of the time seem quite strange to them.
I've always lived a lifestyle which tends to involve a great deal of travel even though I don't claim it as a passion or priority, so that certainly skews my perspective. I know my lifestyle will always involve airplane flights from one place to another, so it's not something I tend to seek out unnecessarily.
Why isn't travel my passion? Here are a few of the factors that play into the equation:
1. People. I may prefer to avoid talking to total strangers unless necessary--but I have a passion for building deep relationships and I love the people that are in my life. I say that I'm not a traveler, because of all the trips in our 4 years of marriage, Angel and I have taken 3 road trips to Texas to visit his family, 3 trips to Malaysia to visit mine, multiple trips to Chicago area where we visited more of my relatives, and countless weekend trips to stay with my grandparents on the opposite side of Michigan. I'm not a traveler because if I were, I probably wouldn't consistently choose to spend vacation time going back to the same old places where people I love just happen to live. These trips aren't motivated by a love for travel--they're motivated by a love for people. Wherever I live, I crave community. Consistent community doesn't happen as easily when you spend all of your free time jetting off to new destinations every other weekend. People are what make life worth the living for me, not merely the chance to go off around the world and see great sights.
2. Home. I sure love my share of adventure, but I also have a great affection for my home turf, wherever that may be at the moment. My parents could tell stories about how I actively opposed the vast majority of plans to leave our home city for any extended period of time when I was in high school. I was particularly attached to my home back then, but even now, I think our little neighborhood and our local mall and our park and our apartment complex and school are really cool. I love to be here, at home. Having my own place where I can invite other people over to is the greatest feeling in the world. Also, I really really like clean bathrooms. If you're a world traveler...at least in my part of the world...you lose the privilege of nice clean private bathrooms when you're away from home too much.
3. Airports. I don't really like them, and traveling means spending a lot of time in them. I've already slept on the floor in way too many airports without even making seeing the world my goal! I don't want to imagine how many more hours I'd have to waste in airports and waiting in immigration lines if I actually made travel a big priority in my life.
4. Money. People who say anyone can travel and that you don't need money to do it rarely look at every different life situation. Travel absolutely takes money, and that's a big reason why it doesn't play a major part in many families' lifestyles. When we take trips, we're big on cutting costs (we did Hawaii on a tight budget last year), but we also learned in ChungKing Mansions in Hong Kong that we can't stomach staying in scary firetrap hostels. We're just not backpackers. This year we've made saving for some future planned expenses, such as buying a car and a fridge and a washing machine when we move into our next apartment, a priority--had we made traveling a priority, that would have made saving for plans that are important to us much more difficult.
I decided a long time ago that seeing everything this beautiful world has to offer isn't the goal of my life. The goal of my life is, instead, to be the kind of person who leaves a hole in plenty of hearts when she's gone (so, basically, an extremely evil desire, right? I want everyone to be like, "Man, too bad Rachel's gone, she was so helpful when she was around!" And then they'll cry buckets and buckets). With my mindset, it's not really worth it to invest my precious resources into constant travel. I love a good vacation, but I'm staunch in my declaration that I am a vacationer, not a traveler. Travelers themselves will turn up their noses at mere vacationers like me, and I'm completely content with that.