Have you ever thought of travel as a “need”? I certainly have - many, many times. I know, it’s not considered one of the basic necessities of life like food, water, shelter, etc. But people have other needs, too. Someone who loves running needs to run. Someone that loves composing music needs to compose. Someone that loves trees needs to not live in the desert.
Sure, some of us love traveling to the point that we consider it a need. But there are plenty of other reasons that could render travel a “need” rather than a “want”. Check out the list below. Perhaps you need to travel and you don’t even know it.
1. Burnout. God, I hope this one is obvious. If you have let yourself get run down by work, extra curricular activities, volunteer activities, and general domestic shenanigans, you need to book yourself a relaxing trip and rest. Lie on a beach in Belize, set up a tent in the national park down the road, whatever. Just get yourself out of town and set yourself up to recharge. Don’t bring your laptop. Turn off the data to your phone and just use it as, well, a phone. Recharge your own dadgum batteries instead of the batteries to everything else.
2. Use up vacation time from work that you’re about to lose. If this is you, then first of all, that is a blaring neon sign that you haven’t given yourself a break in far too long, and second of all, I think I hate your guts.
3. You have itchy feet. Yep, there are some of us that crave travel like chocolate or sushi. The burning desire to get out and explore will make our brains explode if we don’t make it happen.
4. To gain an appreciation for what you have. So Starbucks accidentally made your half-caf vanilla latte fully caffeinated and you suddenly had the urge to punch the barista? Perhaps a trip to another country is in order. One where people don’t have clean running water, regular electricity, homes with 4 walls, or access to anything remotely resembling a hospital or medical clinic. Your eyes will be opened to the way people live in many parts of the world, and you’ll come home grateful that you can drink water straight out of your kitchen faucet.
5. To run away. If you’ve been going through a rough time for some reason (or reasons), it is absolutely ok to run away for a little while. Now, you can’t actually run away from what you’re going through, but giving yourself a break from a tough situation and taking in a change of scenery and culture can give you perspective and time to think.
6. To find yourself. If you’re having a mid-life crisis, a quarter-life crisis, or you just graduated from college and have no idea what you want to do, take off somewhere and explore something that interests you. A friend of mine just spent a year traveling around the world. She spent a great deal of that time diving and doing reef research in the Seychelles, and now she wants to work in marine conservation. The trip changed her life and helped her find her passion. Travel can do that for you, too.
7. To challenge yourself. Are you scared to navigate a foreign country whose language you don’t speak? Are you worried that you’ll get pickpocketed, kidnapped and held for ransom, or eaten by a hippo if you leave the confines of your home country? Come on. Any of those things could happen to you at home just as easily as they could happen in, say, Tanzania. My mother was always terrified of driving in big cities. She was never willing to face that fear and be confident in her own abilities to do it. I don’t know for sure, but she probably missed out on some pretty cool opportunities because of her fear. Trust me, you are NOT going to die in Italy just because you don’t speak Italian. If you challenge yourself to get through little things like language barriers, you’ll come away a much more confident person.
8. You want to but don’t think you can. You can’t afford it. You have a dog to look after. You have kids. You have a bunion. You know what? A good friend of mine that worked in a youth hostel in Berlin once told me that a girl traveling solo around Europe checked in for a few days . She was in a wheelchair. A WHEELCHAIR. If a paralyzed girl can travel solo around an entire continent, you can figure out a way to take a trip. Stop making excuses, sit yourself down, and make it work.
9. There is someone you need to visit. It could be your grandmother that you haven’t seen in a year. It could be your best friend from college that you haven’t seen since having a kid 5 years ago. It could be your mom that you haven’t seen since last week. Go visit. It’s important. Yeah, I know you know that. So if you know that, how come you aren’t checking your calendar and flight prices on Kayak? I know, it’s not a good time - work is busy right now. Well, work will always be busy, and work will always be there. The person or people you need to visit will not always be there. Believe me, I know this all too well. Ask yourself this: will you regret going to visit? I bet I know the answer.