Owning your travel

Mindful Travel

I have previously written about the art of saying goodbye when you’re on the road and the feedback that the article received got me thinking about some other situations that you can face when you’re travelling.

A question that always seems to arise when backpackers meet each other is, ‘how long are you travelling for?’. This is obviously an easy way to strike up a conversation and along with, ‘where are you from?’, ‘where have you been so far?’ and ‘where are you heading next?’, is one of the most common phrases you’re likely to hear when you’re away.

From both personal experience and overhearing many of these exchanges, no matter how much time you’re planning to be away, there’s always going to be someone who is travelling for longer than you.

Let’s say you’ve somehow managed to score a month off work to explore Mexico – there’s every chance that you’ll run into somebody travelling for six months through Latin America… In turn, you can almost guarantee that they will come across another traveller who is two years into a world trip, with no plans on stopping anytime soon!

A similar thing can be said about the number of countries you have visited – regardless of how many different stamps you have in your passport, it’s more than likely that there will be someone else with more!

Why is it important to know this? Because travel isn’t a competition.

It doesn’t matter if you’re away for a week, or a year, the main thing to remember is to focus on the purpose behind your own travel. Perhaps you just need a short time away to unwind from everything, or you’re going on an extended trip between finishing your studies and joining the workforce. Whatever the situation, it is your reason and that’s all that matters.

Of course, sometimes we can’t help but get a bit envious if we hear that someone is going to be away for longer, or travelling further than us, but rather than letting their travel plans affect you in a negative way, use them as motivation to start planning your next adventure.

For example, what might you need to organise to in order to get more time off work next time? How much money will you need to save per month to reach your goals? Which destinations do you want to visit?

There’s also a fair chance that if someone has been travelling (or plans to travel) for a long time, that they will have some knowledge to share that might benefit you, whether it’s for this trip or one you might take in the future.

This works in the other way as well – you shouldn’t discredit someone just because they’re only travelling for a short amount of time. We’re much better off viewing travel as more about cooperation and collaboration than a contest.

In addition, people travel in very different ways, so it’s impossible to compare travel based on time, or passport stamps alone. One traveller might see and do more in one week than another does in a month, whereas other travellers prefer to really get to know a place by spending more than just a few days there and immersing themselves in the local culture, rather than simply taking in the ‘must see’ sights.

Once again, it all comes down to what you want to get out of your time away – it’s your travel and you own it.

What’s the motivation behind your next travel plans? Leave a comment below to let us know!


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