Lifestyle Magazine

When Travel is Not Your Cup of Tea

By Niviya Vas @NiviyaVas

It's Saturday morning. You have a mug of warm tea in one hand, and your phone in the other. You're browsing Instagram, and as you scroll, you see quite a few breathtakingly beautiful pictures of exotic-sounding locations posted by some friends - a couple you hang out with, maybe - and even some colleagues. All pictures have one thing in common -


In those few seconds, what crosses your mind?

Does it stir up memories of your past travels, cajoling you to revisit photographs from that trip, and even coaxing you to post the best of the lot on the platform yourself? Does it motivate you to start planning your next big voyage? Does it leave you feeling peaceful or strangely content?

Or, does it dampen your spirits? Do you feel pressured to keep up with all your friends and peers who somehow not only manage to travel ever so frequently, but actually enjoy being away from home so often and for so long?

We are navigating in a world that is saturated with social sharing. Invariably, we are and will be influenced by what others do, and how they see the world. Often, this yields positive outcomes - if we are inspired to do more good because we see others doing it, isn't it wonderful?

It is just as wonderful when more people are inspired to travel by witnessing others' experiences. Travel is a great teacher, and it almost never fails to help us open ourselves to life-changing lessons.

But what about those of us who do not travel? Not only because we can't, but also because we don't want to? Are our lives somehow less fulfilled because we choose not to travel?

I have been part of numerous conversations and social settings where there is almost always someone in the group who shrinks away, desperate for a segway, when the topic of travel comes up. One may think that this is because the person in question has nothing to contribute to the conversation. Bu that's not true.

Often, the real reason why is because they are inevitably shamed for their choice - their choice to stay, and not travel.

So, when you read that hashtag, see those pictures, watch those videos, and feel like your choice somehow makes your life a less interesting or less fulfilling, I've got some unpopular opinions for you.

You're not alone, and it's alright.
It's okay to not travel. It's okay to not want to travel. It's okay if travel does not excite you. It's okay that to you, travel is not a necessity, not a first-choice, not a priority. It is absolutely and unquestionably normal to just be where you are.

Staying the course, or settling, is as natural to us as breathing. It is possibly the oldest tool in our belt that ensures our survival; it is what encourages us to build and sustain something for ourselves and for the future - a home, a safe zone, a community. It is the ones who choose to settle who create warm and welcoming spaces for the ones who choose to travel. So, if there are some of us who derive contentment in staying put, why are we pressured to pack our bags and leave?

How else do we escape the dreaded clutches of monotony, or get a break from the rut?

Is travel the only answer? Of course not.

Lose yourself in the pages of a good book. Watch a play. Pamper your pet. Grow a garden. Swim. Go for an early morning walk in the park. Move, on your own terms. There are endless ways to bring back sparkle into our lives, and travel is just one of them.

Some are born to spread their wings, and others to spread their roots.

- Jen Fountain

Besides, vacationing while being constantly glued to the phone, or travelling across the world just to check in to a five-star hotel room isn't exactly helping anyone spice up their routine.

What about learning? How do we grow, if we don't travel?

It's time for some much-needed honesty. Travel is being showcased through rose-coloured glasses as the only path to enlightenment, to learning, and to introspection. The real cause for alarm lies in how many of us are buying into this ideal - that travel is the only way to better ourselves.

Learning and growing take place in different forms and at different paces, for different people. What works for me may not work for you. While travel may be the best way for me to learn about diversity and to be more embracing of other cultures and their ways of doing things, others may derive such value by watching a documentary, reading, visiting a museum, conversing with diverse yet like-minded people, or even attending conferences.

Here's the truth that lies behind the veil - no matter how much of the world we may have traversed, we would have only spent time and money, and gained nothing, if we have voyaged with a blind eye and a closed mind. We will never be able appreciate the oasis if we continue to escape the searing heat because we encase ourselves in the cooling, comfortable bubble of our privilege. Travel, in no way, radically changes people unless people want to change.

Shouldn't everyone experience the joy of travel?

A fact that plagues us today is that travel is peddled as a mere ware. It is transacted as a must-have commodity, a necessity even - as a thing not only to be attained or possessed, but also to be flaunted. People flock to Instagram hot-spots to click a picture because 'everyone is doing it', and leave. Those who do not indulge are often mocked.

What's more disturbing is how this is affecting the mental health of the younger demographic - many of us subscribe to the idea that travel, particularly foreign travel is the new social currency; it buys popularity, and thereby acceptance. Those of us who don't/can't travel often find ourselves feeling ostracized. Moreover, mindless travel fuelled by unethical and unsustainable tourism practices has a lasting the impact on our fragile planet.

The essence of travel, is thus lost.

Travel is not a necessity to everyone. For many of us, travel just does not justify the investments in terms of energy, time, and money. Some of us would rather spend that investment elsewhere, in activities that bring us more joy and contentment than travel. Happiness can be found in travel, yes, but it can also be found in building a home, nurturing a family, spending time with old friends, and reconnecting with our roots.

It is fine to encourage (within limits) people to travel. I do it too, only because travel has made me a better person than who I was. What isn't fine is shaming those who choose to stay rooted, those who find peace in staying put, those who seek comfort in the familiar, and those who derive joy in being closer to home.

So go ahead, figure out what tugs at your heartstrings. Throw off the bowlines, if that is what helps you become a better, more giving person. Or, stay your course. Take pride in your unique interests, if that is what's going to help you blossom.

It is okay to travel, and it is okay not to.

Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

- Alan Keightley

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