TDT’s Why We Travel: Reason #1

It continues to baffle me that the structure of our society (at least, U.S. society) is designed in violation of a fundamental principle of human life: that experiences are more valuable than posessions.

I remember talking to my dad not so long ago about the things he regretted doing in his young life. He told me wistfully that he spent so much time and money accumulating stuff – cars, furniture, etc. – and in turn feeling bound to his investments, that he never took to the time to simply get out and see the world. My mom, similarly, felt so bound to her work early in life that she didn’t take the opportunity to follow my dad to Europe while he was there with the air force.

Undoubtedly, my parents have led wonderful lives and still have opportunities ahead – but there will always be that tinge of regret, and I imagine it’s a feeling we all know well.

But this is what we are imbued with every day – that work and things are important, and that we must work to pursue things because these things will make us happy. And despite the movies and greeting cards and novels that tell us opposite, for some reason the majority of us still buy into this idea…literally.

When we travel, we defy this notion that things are important. We pack light, we roam and we spend money and energy on experiences – on delicious dinners in far-flung restaurants, on introspective train rides, and on filled journal pages. We remember forever our days spent with friends, new or old, in unfamiliar places. These are things we can hold even as other elements in our life come and go .

And so we travel, in that sense, to live – to remember that life is a string of experiences, not a conglomeration of posessions now gone.


3 Responses to “TDT’s Why We Travel: Reason #1”

  1. 1 Jenny April 22, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Wow, this was a wonderfully well-written entry on an important but oft-forgotten philosophy. The only caveat I would add is that of course, traveling does require funds. And it’s always a thin-line between working to live and well…you know. Glad to see that you’re keeping up with the writing!

  2. 2 dailytransit April 23, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Hey Jenny – it’s been a long time!

    Of course, money is that huge caveat, and it’s a difficult one to get around. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you live simply – not desiring and buying up stuff – you free up a good amount to spend on experiences (plane tickets, restaurants, hostels, etc.); and when you don’t feel entirely bound to your career, you’re able to just to just take off when an opportunity arises.

    Hope you’re doing well ~ take care.

  3. 3 ianmack April 26, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Amen to that. But keep in mind, I think for the vast majority of human existance, people didn’t “travel.” Sure they foraged for food, migrated, in the beginning. But I read somewhere that up until the last century, the average person met less than 100 people in their lifetime. And they were concentrating more on scraping by rather than being a wandering nomad. Even today, “leisure traveling” is an unheard of luxury for most of the world. They’re happy if they can have a food, shelter, and health. The “developed” world is of course, the exact opposite. We’re drowning in too much stuff and starving ourselves of real life experience. Gotta be a middle way somewhere.

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