July 23, 2017

You *Do* Actually Want to Travel, Don’t You?


Walking around Inverness in the Scottish Highlands

I had a bit of an epiphany today when, in the wee hours of the morning–thanks to one more sporadic case of insomnia–I came across a comment in a recent article by Seth Kugel, the New York Times‘ Frugal Traveler columnist.

In the piece, Kugel reviewed reader comments from the column over the past year for a bit of self-critique, using both praise and reproof as a barometer for his effectiveness as a travel writer. Brave man, that.

As I read through each response to his piece, my mouth fell agape as I read one particular paragraph by Nebraskim, a reader from Lincoln, Nebraska who wrote:

I enjoy good writing and good travel writing, which is why I enjoy your columns/stories, Seth. I actually do not enjoy traveling at all. If I never left my zip code I would be happy. […] But I do enjoy learning about the world and the excursions of others. Your writing is one way for me to do that. (Source) (italics mine)

Ten minutes after reading and re-reading those words, I was still catching flies.

While blogging about travel over the past two years, I’ve made a basic assumption: people who read this blog want to travel and possess the same level of near-crazed wanderlust that I do.

Color me enlightened.


It never dawned on me that some of you who visit this blog from time to time do so not because you want to be inspired to travel or because you’re looking for advice or guidance on traveling. It is possible that some of you navigate your way here to escape for a few minutes. Perhaps some of you merely want to learn more about the world beyond your doorstep with no intention of seeing it in person.

Despite our best efforts, most of us have a self-centered tendency to believe our ways of seeing the world and being in it make the most sense, and to project our thoughts and desires onto others, assuming the things we want are universal longings. There are a few common elemental needs we all share (food, water, shelter, safety, love) but beyond those core few, human desires and values fracture.

Some of us want large, sprawling mansions. Others embrace the tiny house movement. Some people want to be in lifelong committed relationships. Others prefer a more solitary life. Some people vote one way or the other.

Some of us want to travel. Some of us don’t.

And that’s okay. It would be sheer hubris to suggest otherwise.

I travel because I’ve found it to be utterly life-enriching but, then again, not everyone is like me. And while I’d like to believe anyone who claims not to enjoy traveling has tried it at least once, I know that’s not the case.

It is enticing to misappropriate quotes from the work of Mark Twain and trot out the “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” bit from his Innocents Abroad, but it’s an inspiring ideal that it isn’t necessarily true. There are prejudiced, bigoted, and narrow-minded people who are also well-traveled, just as there are broad-minded, tolerant people who’ve never traveled more than fifty miles from the place they were born.

So, for those of you content to travel the heck out of your own zip code and who visit this blog just to get outside of yourself, if only for a little while, welcomeI see you.

Are you a reader who doesn’t like traveling? Or a reader who loves to travel but can still understand the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t enjoy traveling? Do you have a pulse? I really want to hear what you think.

15 Responses to You *Do* Actually Want to Travel, Don’t You?

  1. Well I’m definitely a reader who loves to travel and can’t imagine living without it. Having said that though, I do get drawn to reading blogs and articles about destinations and experiences that I have no interest in experiencing myself (climbing huge mountains and spending a lot of time on boats mainly!) – even though they might not be for me it’s interesting to see what they would be like, and occasionally my mind might be changed about them.

    • Marsha says:

      I suppose I too enjoy looking at travel blog entries about destinations that don’t particularly interest me at first, but it’s always with the intention of finding out more about a place so I can be inspired to go there. But to visit travel blogs just for the pleasure of reading with no plans on going to the destinations you read about. Kinda mind-blowing for me.

  2. Mandy says:

    I am also an individual that is full to the brim with wanderlust and can’t imagine NOT traveling. However, where I come from – people live their entire lives in the zip code they were born in – so I get it, and you hit it right on the head: Some people want to travel, some people don’t. Thanks for putting it into words!!

    • Marsha says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Mandy. As someone who’s chock full of wanderlust like you, I’d always assumed that everyone wanted to travel and that time, money, and responsibility were usually the constraints that kept people at home. Having no desire to travel is still such a foreign concept I’m still having difficulty grasping. Different strokes for different folks.

  3. Alouise says:

    *places fingers on wrist and waits to feel a pulse*

    Yes I still have a pulse. Probably would be hard to comment as a ghost and all.

    Anyways you bring up a really good point, and one I didn’t consider much. It’s not as if I never realized some people wouldn’t want to travel, it’s just I never considered that they would be reading travel articles and travel blogs. I would hope everyone tries traveling – at least outside their own city (or zipcode/postal code) at least once. But I know there a lot of people who can’t do that, and even some who don’t want to. That’s not me, but if someone else learns something from travel reading – even if they don’t have any intention to travel – then that’s good. The world is so big, there’s definitely enough room for travel lovers and travel haters in it.

  4. Marsha says:

    Alouise–Thanks for responding (and glad you have a pulse!). People are so diverse with such diverse values and interests that it is ludicrous to think that we’d all love the same wonderful things. Even travel. In my head I’m still like “why wouldn’t you like travel? It’s AWESOME!” but at the same time, I know there are wonderful things in this world that simply don’t grab me. Man, humanity is fascinating…

  5. Matthew Cheyne says:

    I’m a travel blog reader who loves to travel but hasn’t traveled for a while due to bad health and a lack of finances. That and I am also busy studying. I find that reading travel blogs help keep the travel bug alive and help me maintain a sense of purpose and sanity in an insane world.

    I can understand the reasoning behind people who don’t like to travel but like to experience the world vicariously through other people. It’s kind of like people who are bookworms or cinephiles – those who love their cinema. It’s a lens through which they view the world and that’s perfectly okay with me.

    Taking myself as an example, I’m not much of what they call a foodie here in Australia – somebody who seeks out different culinary experiences for the sake of it, usually involving some travel – but I love reading other peoples accounts of their food adventures and I constantly think about what food adventures I’d have when I’m out on the road traveling.

    Like we say here in Australia “different strokes for different folks”.

    • Marsha says:

      I love how you phrase that, Matt–how reading travel blogs is merely a lens through which some people choose to view the world. So accurate (as usual) 🙂

  6. Arianwen says:

    It really baffles me that not everyone wants to travel the world. But I’m glad because that would cause a lot of problems! My uncle went to Malta once and didn’t like it, so he’s decided that travel is a bad idea. I just can’t identify with that, but I guess we’re all different!

    • Marsha says:

      Awwww…so sorry your uncle didn’t enjoy Malta to the extent that he won’t travel at all now. Indeed, it’s simply mind-boggling how different we all are.

  7. Martina says:

    It’s funny, I never thought much about traveling before I had kids. I left home when I was 18 years old with only $600 to my name. I got on a plane and went to California with no real plans. I had a friend there who had asked me to go, so I did. I stayed for 16 years and basically did the things that Californians do, Baja, Big Bear, Catalina Islands etc. I was never really impressed with any of it and I took it for granted. Especially the ocean. I rarely went there. My husband and I moved back to my home state of Montana where I had my children. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been filled with wanderlust. I do look at photos and read blogs of places traveled by others and I’m soooo jealous! Unfortunately, finances and work keep us from traveling. I like the quote from Mark Twain though. There is so much truth to it. I’ve never been abroad and it doesn’t seem appealing to me because it seems scary especially if you don’t speak the language, and now we see so much violence happening in the east. I’m sure if I actually went abroad I would have a different opinion though. Well, for now I’m traveling in my zip code. BTW, my mother, who is now 70, has NEVER driven past the city limits which is no more than 8 miles in any direction. She’s completely content.

    • Marsha says:

      Martina–so glad you were finally able to get in touch with your inner wanderer, even if it happened a bit later in life. I hope you get to go to all the places you’ve been dreaming of. What does you mom thing of your desire to travel?

  8. Rhona says:

    Well, I am for sure not an zip code traveller. I personally do not understand why people read blogs on things they are not going to do. I don’t understand it but I guess different folks, different strokes. I sort of find it a waste of time. I read travel blogs to keep my spirits and dreams of travel high. I read & watch blogs and vlobgs on make up/beauty, vegan recipes, life improvement, single living etc because all of these things interest me. Although I have only taken 1 trip in 2012 (sob) as I am going through a career change (too bad I can’t snap my finger and make that happen just as fast) & extensive travel is out for the meantime, my passion for travel (and why I read blogs) won’t die. I do read posts also on places I have no desire to go because it is interesting and hell, I might end up going there one day.

    • Marsha says:

      Rhona–So glad you’re keeping the wanderlust alive in the midst of a career change. Hope everything works out soon and that you’ll be on the road again!

  9. Jaycie says:

    Stumbled upon your blog, not a regular reader of travel blogs. I am 23 years old with lots of savings and six weeks of vacation I can use until December, and unless it’s for business or my family finally plans the Israel trip we’ve been talking about for years, I have no intention of traveling. The urge simply isn’t there. I don’t even like my own city that much; I just don’t like spending money on travel, and except for Israel, there’s nothing I want to see or do. If that makes me weird, so be it. (I do enjoy being on an airplane, though; it’s the requirement of a destination that bothers me.)