A letter to all travelers: ‘Why do we travel?’

Dear fellow traveler, 

For weeks, I have been asking myself a question I thought I answered years ago. However, after carefully pondering about life and all the gifts and shit that come with it, I felt somehow lost. In the midst of confusion, I find myself asking the same question again: “Why do I travel?”  

Harv - The New Breed of Traveler

I’ve initially concluded that my desire to travel has something to do with my upbringing. I also connected it to my will to live after I’ve gone through a life-changing episode, and I thought all those answers were enough. I thought that I answered the whys that led me to create this website and indulge (or even trouble) myself in countless adventures—adventures that brought me to a number of places that gave me experiences worth remembering while seeing this world’s wonders and woes. However, alongside my growth as a traveler is the fruition of more questions that baffled my thoughts.

How many places have I been to? How long will it take, for me to be able to travel the world? Will I even have the means do so? How many stamps are there on my passport? What sort of articles do I have to write? Am I a good writer to begin with? Can my articles and blogs be found on Google’s search results? Can my content influence people? How many likes and shares did my last post get? Do I have to start a YouTube channel? I stutter too much, will my viewers notice?  Is my Instagram well-curated? How many followers do I have? Do these things matter?

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The truth is, with the years of practice as a digital marketer, using social media, and having been exposed to digital solutions, all these taught me why these questions need to be addressed in this era of connectedness and accessibility. And yet, I can’t seem to connect those answers to the ultimate question, “Why do I travel?” 

That’s the time I realised that maybe, I need not find a connection. Or better yet, that I stop asking myself those questions because in real life, as a human being, those questions and their answers do not really matter.

How about we do a quick activity: I’ll ask you a question that you have to answer imaginatively while your eyes closed.

The question: What is your dream experience? 

This question may seem too easy to answer. But what if, imagine yourself in a dream, your dream. In your mind, turn that dream into a vivid reality that’ll last for a minute. You only have a minute. Imagine all the smallest details like how it feels, the clothes you’re wearing, who you are with, and other details you want to happen in that dream experience. Now, close your eyes and start imagining.

Are you done? If you didn’t do it, well, I am afraid I have to insist. Do it before proceeding to read. You can even play some music if you want to (I highly recommend listening to this track on Spotify).

Done? I also did the same activity, so allow me to share with you what I imagined.

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I was standing on thick snow on a clear winter night wearing my only winter jacket and my favourite cosy blue scarf, holding the hands of my loved one. The warmth of our hands seems to easily penetrate our thick gloves as we witness a flowing curtain of light making a grand spectacle on a cold Norweigan night. What did I feel? I was oozing with both tears and joy as my heart raced, deluged with contrasting emotions. 

Did you imagine your dream experience the same way? Did you feel strong emotions? Did you see the person beside you? Did you feel the warmth it brings to your soul? Did you feel the joy, love, ambition, or perhaps fear or sorrow it brought you? Were you in the moment, caring for nothing else except for just being there?

Ain’t it a bit ironic? Perhaps, even funny.

Funny how the questions I raised at the onset of this letter didn’t seem to matter when we were instantly given just a minute to make our dreams a reality. If at all, they could simply be afterthoughts. It was just an afterthought that I need to set-up my tripod and take photos so I could share my experience in this website. It’s an afterthought that I should do a Facebook Live. It’s an afterthought that I need to take IG-worthy photos. It’s a mere afterthought to think and do all the things that, this world has led you to believe, matter

For a single minute of dreaming, suddenly, we were in the moment. And it’s not just you who imagined their dream that way. Every single person I asked and surveyed, focused their imagination on the experience, the emotions, the company, and their thoughts.

To say that we will not do the things I deemed as afterthoughts once we are finally able to turn our dream into a reality, would be a hypocrisy. But, don’t you find it surprising to know that if we have limited time to savour our dream, we become more compelled to focus on our real priorities and what we cherish the most. That, for 60 seconds, suddenly the desire to be better than anyone else, our insecurities, the statistics, popularity, and superficial wants could fade away so easily?

This awareness has led me to believe and understand better what I’ve been missing, what I’ve been doing wrong, and why I’ve felt empty countless times despite doing what I am supposedly passionate about. It’s helped me further realise why I wanted to travel, and why I will keep on doing so as much as I can.

I have confirmed that the things that really matter are not what the society generally (read: superficially) believes in. That following the trends and joining the bandwagon isn’t as satisfying as being your own true self, and that every experience is not just about pleasant moments but also about accepting the fact that the worst experiences are equally valuable in life, too. That being in the moment is better than pretending to be in it. 

I am still in the process of fully deciphering all the whys. If you’re still grappling for answers to questions similar to “Why do I travel?”, then let me tell you that it’s perfectly okay, and I wish nothing but for you to also find the answers that you are looking for. If you already know the answers, I hope I could find them soon just like you.

For now, I’ll focus on being in the moment as I embrace who I am and what truly matter to me: embracing life as it ought to be, as I try to turn all my dreams into a reality.

Let’s keep on wandering, and wondering.

Sincerely,
Harvey

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