The Random Writings of Rachel: Travel Is Not My Priority

Travel Is Not My Priority

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.

20 comments:

  1. Yes, finally someone who doesn't consider traveling a "priority." People almost make me feel weird for not "needing" to travel. I would love to travel some day (I've never left the states) and I will (God willing, for my honeymoon at least!) but no means do I need to. These are all such great points, 1-4. The one about clean bathrooms is so real. I love your heart for people. You have great values :)

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  2. I find it really difficult to get the balance. I totally agree, that one has trouble building relationships when one is constantly away. Plus, living normal life means I'm involved in normal things with invitations from friends or cool events happening here on the weekends that I don't want to miss. That said, it's waaaay more affordable to travel now from the middle of Europe than it would be to fly off to Rome from South Africa for a weekend, so I want to use that opportunity too. A few trips a year and I'm happy :) That said, if it meant travelling to dirty bathrooms, I might also never leave home ;)

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  3. With the exception of interim in college (yes! I don't have to explain what that is!), I have never left the country. I love visiting family and friends and spending time with them. Plus, I really do enjoy road trips. :)

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  4. What an interesting perspective.

    I was a backpacker. But since I'm much older now, you'll be hard pressed to find me back in a hostel now. I've passed that moment in my life. Now I like to be comfortable when I travel. I feel I've earned the right after some of the places I've stayed in over the years.

    I also miss my home more than I did when I was younger. Basically as I age I'm becoming less of a traveller which in all honestly, I find disappointing since many of my best memories in life were made while travelling.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  5. Money is the biggest factor for us. Sure, if we were rich, we would travel the world and going sightseeing all the time. But instead we've learned to choose our battles. As much as I would like to go all over China, we decided that saving our money for school and our future family was more important. The only vacation we've decided to go on is to Xi'an, and we've saved up for it. So long story short, I totally agree. I'm glad I'm not alone!

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  6. Yes! I have so many friends that somehow are able to travel several times a year. And while I am happy for them, I've never understood how they do it. I have never had the money to travel. I hope one day I will, but I am happy with my life and as your said, other things are a priority.

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  7. I appreciate your #4. I get really frustrated when people act like everyone can afford to travel. Their tips for traveling on a budget are useless to me most of the time! So thanks :)

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  8. I get where you are coming from. Myself, I don't travel very far very often. But I also consider it travelling when I am exploring the towns near by, discovering things I didn't knew existed, eating in a new restaurant (maybe even foreign one haha), taking a different route on our trip back to where my parents live.

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  9. I completely agree that travel costs money. At the very least, you have to be away from work, which for most people means a sacrifice. Beyond that, it means you're not using the things you already pay for (e.g. rent, a car, utilities, etc.) so there's also that. It's definitely something people have to make sacrifices for-- and not worth the sacrifice if you don't think it's worthwhile!

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  10. YES to all of this. I am the same way! I do like going new places sometimes and I love vacation, but traveling as a way of life is SO not me! I'm way too much of a homebody!

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  11. I always thought I would like traveling, until I got married and started traveling. Turns out I hate it. It is exhausting! My husband loves it through :P

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  12. I'm definitely somewhat of a homebody, but I also really love to travel, and have a bucket list of sorts on places I'd like to go to someday. <3 It isn't a priority in my life either because my life requires me to prioritize most everything else before it (and as you mentioned, relationships with people/family/friends, expenses, etc.)!

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  13. I don't love traveling--I love it when we get to the place but I don't love flying. I do however loveeee the airport for some reason. :)

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  14. Oh lordy, thank you for this post!!! I am soooo tired of people saying you do not need money to travel. I can barely save enough cash for my plane ticket, not to mention hotels and food, and if I dare to treat myself and buy something fancy from wherever I'm going. I don't know why they say these stupid things!
    I'm not much for travelling too, I wish I could visit Japan and Iceland someday, but that's that.
    Haha, what you said really, that's the evilest thing, making people love you and then leaving, tisk tisk! :D

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  15. This is a great post-- and I agree traveling does cost money! I really enjoyed exploring Asia but it does get really tiring!!!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  16. I think it's great that you know that about yourself. What bothers me is when people make excuses for why they don't travel. If it's a priority you'll make it work. Otherwise you do you! ;-)

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  17. Jeez THANK YOU! I'm exactly on the same boat. I feel the exact same way. I grew up going from one home to another and being stable and coming home to my home everyday, is priceless. I love hotels and being able to explore but that's not my goal in life either. I live happily seeing others explorations and photos. I try to explore places where it is reasonable driving distance from us and that is good enough for me. I plan to return to school next year and still have tons of student loans to pay off, plus a car, plus a credit card. On top of that, I am the proud momma of an 8 year old. I have priorities and I won't be seeing China anytime soon but that's OK with me because I love my home! :) Have a great weekend Rachel! -Iva

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  18. I think I know how you feel. I would definitely like to travel a bit, but only to clean, pretty countries like Denmark or Sweden. I'm frankly terrified to visit China. I've heard too many nasty stories about Chinese bathrooms and Chinese food - the book Pretty Woman Spitting had a ton of them (It's also about foreign teachers in China). And I'm with you. The people are what's important to me, not the place. I actually have a chance to take a short-term work assignment in either India or Brazil, but I don't think I'll even apply for it. I definitely like all the comforts of home too much to give them up for a boatload of uncertainties and potential discomfort.

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  19. This is so refreshing to me. I get tired of hearing how we need to see the world before having kids/anyone can travel on any budget. It's just not true! I do love to travel, but I don't do it that often and I love being home. My priority is focusing on creating a home and community, and I don't think I'm necessarily missing out on life because I haven't backpacked through Europe.

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  20. I love travel but there are so many other reasons to love it other than the act of just travelling and other priorities do have to take precedence. Great perspective :)

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