Traveling Won’t Bring You Happiness: But it will Add Fulfilment to Your Life
There are many reasons to travel. For many of us, we use travel as a means to recuperate, see and explore the world or as a journey to repair the broken or under-utilised parts of ourselves. Other times, we find ourselves adrift like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Much like the heroine, we tried to run away from our problems. Yet, somehow, we just ended up in an unfamiliar place—unsure of exactly how we got there. But the one thing we are certain of is that we need to go back home.
And to this last group especially, I have a rude awakening for you. Traveling will deliver many things to you, but happiness is not one of them.
I know, I know. For many of us, this goes against everything we have been taught about hitting the road. But those of us who are committed to this lifestyle know that it is true. Traveling brings us many things, but if we spend our time searching for happiness, we may miss out on them. Not sure what I mean? Keep reading.
Everywhere we look, people are trying to “sell” us happiness. For those particularly interested in travel, the Travel Influencer sector of Instagram may be some of the most egregious offenders. On the ‘gram there is no shortage of images of “happy” travelers. They show off their toned bodies or luxurious accommodations with images that are both perfectly curated and highly artificial.
Every post is intended to sell you on the idea that you could be happy “if only you were here.” The actual “here” is of little consequence as most of the locales are rarely shown. And when they are shown, the poster still manages to render them insignificant. Whether they are in Tanzania, Puerto Rico or the Philippines, from the images, you wouldn’t know the difference. But much like the munchkins did to Dorothy, they use their images to urge you to follow the yellow brick road and ease on into the happiness that traveling can provide.
But any experienced traveler will tell you those smiles are a lie. Why? Well, because most avid travelers have encountered travel’s dark side or the Wicked Witch.
Who is that you ask? Well, she is the name we’ve given to all of the cultural barriers, miscommunications, missed flights and unforeseen delays that you encounter along the way. She is the reason why traveling can at times be worse than a nightmare. It is her job to deter you from the path of the yellow brick road, which for many only deepens the idea that it is actually where we need to be in order to be happy.
But again, if you are like Dorothy, you’ll be resistant and resilient and keep trudging down that road. Even if you make it to the Wizard, meaning that you’ve have a perfectly curated and Instagrammable experience; one that leaves you feeling rested and restored you probably won’t be any happier. Or, more precisely, you won’t stay happy.
Why? Well, by definition “happiness” is a temporary state. A pleasurable, yet fleeting emotion. So many of us waste our lives searching for a panacea or a cure all to permanently end our misery. Avid travelers know this. However, those of us who are new to traveling may fall for the act and treat happiness as the Wizard in Oz--available and ready to solve all of our problems. As a result, we treat the runway like a yellow brick road, and expect the plane to deliver us into a perfect state of bliss as soon as we touch down.
But know that the journey that we embark on is full of ups and downs. And the downs often provide a space for growth to occur. And since traveling is generally a temporary state, growth can occur quickly, thus giving us tools that will help us in our larger life. I would argue that this space for growth is much more beneficial than a temporary state of good feelings. It also gives us more appreciation for the happy moments in our lives.
So, don’t go traveling to look for happiness. Go out, seek, experience and by all means try to have a good time. But just don’t go looking for happiness—look for stories you can tell to all those waiting for you when you come back home.