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On Why You Should Travel. Or Not.

On why you should travel. Or not.
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I’m not the type of person who *finally* quit her miserable 9-to-5 job in favor of life on the road. There are lots of those types of people who write travel blogs and, while I applaud the courage it must have taken them to make that leap, I’m pretty sick of reading about it.

It’s always the same story, the same complacency with life that motivates people to go somewhere else and try something new for a while. I’m super happy those people made the change they apparently needed to make, but it sends the message that there’s something inherently wrong with the conventional lifestyle and something inherently right with the unconventional one; when in fact lifestyles aren’t objectively “right” or “wrong” but are maybe “right” or “wrong” for YOU at any given time in your life.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about working a 9-to-5 job, settling down, getting married…you know – living the conventional way. That type of lifestyle definitely has its benefits (um hello financial security! and maybe love, and being able to afford things, and having a little routine that you like) and it suits certain people very, very well.

Why travel: living conventionally

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about living unconventionally: on the road, on a commune, alone in a delapitated school bus in the wilderness of Alaska…That type of lifestyle has its benefits too (adventure! new things! self-discovery! cultural ethnography!) and it suits certain people very, very well.

I’m just so sick of coming upon travel blogs with “about me’s” full-on bashing the conventional lifestyle OF ITS READERS – all “I’m finally free, it was a huge risk and I was terrified but now things are perfect! You’re wasting your life if you think your conventional lifestyle is fulfilling! You’re missing out!”

Like that effing movie, Eat Pray Love.

Oh, as if.


Elizabeth Gilbert and the people who made that movie make it their mission to romanticize travel into some sort of magic life elixir. Just go places and you’ll feel better about everything. Go to Italy where all people do is eat pasta; go to India where all people do is practice yoga; go to Bali where you will undoubtedly fall in love because it’s the beach and it’s perfect so obviously.

Why travel: Living conventionally

As travelers and writers I think we need to stop perpetuating the belief that travel will fix your problems. Chances are, your problems will follow you wherever you go. Or actually, you’ll likely encounter new problems while on the road. That’s what’s good about travel though: it’s challenging. And you grow in the face of those challenges.

Honestly, if there’s anything I’ve learned from traveling, it’s that there are a million different ways to live your life. None of them are any righter than the others. It’s finding the balance that works for you as an individual. So go quit your 9-to-5 and have an adventure! Or not! The real “magic life elixir” is being able to know what’s right for you in any given present moment. That’s your key.


  1. AJ says:

    Interesting perspective. Is it possible that a higher proportion of folks who devote their lives to travel choose to start a blog, versus the casual traveler? I started my blog when I “quit my life” to travel, though I made the move because I knew I was looking for a new job and a physical move, and wanted to visit some friends and interesting places before then. Since returning, I find myself months (or years!) behind on posting about my adventures, and although I live in an area considered by many to be a vacation destination, I find it difficult to get excited about my close-to-home explorations. In fact, just yesterday I considered scrapping the whole travel theme and switching to cooking or music instead – something more in line with what I do everyday, at home. It only makes sense that people whose life *is* traveling would write about that, while others would focus on home-based hobbies. I don’t disagree with you about those bloggers who claim that their life decisions are better than those of the rest of us, but I also don’t think that’s limited to the travel genre!

    • mishvo says:

      Hi AJ – thanks for your thoughtful response. That’s a good point that people who travel and have less-than-extraordinary experiences aren’t going to get on the Internet to blog about them. That’s a completely understandable phenomenon that, like you said, isn’t limited to the travel genre. I guess it’s the holier-than-thou attitude with which many travel bloggers defend their lifestyle choice that I resent.

  2. oddyearstravel says:

    This is an excellent post, Michelle. Long-term traveling is not for everyone. I quit my 9-to-5, but not necessarily to travel; just to take a break and find out what I wanted to do with my life. It seems to me that more and more people are doing this, too, though on their own terms. It doesn’t always mean selling your car and hitchhiking your way across Africa, but it is exciting to read stories that are written from that perspective. Megan and I often play this silly mind game, usually without being conscious of it, where we narrate other travelers’ stories without knowing a damn thing about the people. Like, “That guy in the Bangkok City shirt over there, drinking a coconut on the sun lounger, probably works in IT. That’s why he can travel in the middle of March. And that dude next to him: he sells toupees door-to-door.” The game only gets creepier from there, but I think you get the picture. Travelers are not all cut from the same stone. Many people now seem interested in not just visiting places, but exploring them in depth and getting to know their cultures. It’s a wonderful thing. But I suppose we all need to check our attitudes so that we don’t proselytize, but instead share our stories in a meaningful way.

  3. Elina says:

    Is it creepy to comment on a post from two years ago? Probably, but since I saw the link to this on Brenna’s blog, you probably don’t mind.

    So many bloggers have talked about this problem with romanticising travel, but what stuck with me the most about your post was saying that the problems will follow you anywhere you go. Oh, I’ve been there. When I first went travelling, I thought I could be this shiny new me, like Elina 2.0, but at some point I realised I was just the same person I had always been, just in a different location. It is a hard bit to swallow, but I also think it’s imporant to understand. Thanks for writing this post.

    • mishvo says:

      Haha it’s not creepy at all! Thanks for your comment. And yeah even though it’s been two years since I wrote this (I actually can’t believe it’s been that long) it’s all still true for me today. I find when I’m feeling lost, depressed, anxious, just struggling in general, my first instinct is to go traveling but I forget that that’s not actually the answer. But it doesn’t stop me from wanderlusting… :/

  4. Megan says:

    I really like this post! It conveys a lot of the musings I’ve had running through my head while I read travel blogs (i.e. “Wow, ANOTHER person who quit their 9-5 and lives in a fairy tale!”) haha I’ve also realized that a lot of travel bloggers seem to be of the same age, gender, race, and socio-economic class – so it’s very interesting to take in everyone’s perspectives and try to pave your own way! Anyways, thank you for sharing and I hope you’re enjoying your travels

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