Why We Travel

Posted on April 18, 2009 by

During our recent trip through Central Java, we car-pooled with an energetic German couple who shared their intrepid tales of travelling around the World with us. Towards the end of our day together on the harrowing mountain roads of the Dieng Plateau, Daniel made an insightful comment, which I thought, hit the spot for all of us travel addicts.

“Today we learned alot. Now we know more about the Javanese culture, we learned many words in their language like ‘makan’ (eat), and we experienced the ridiculous way they drive!”

It’s the fundamental reason why we just can’t stop travelling. On the road, you’re constantly taking in new knowledge, always learning about something you’d never known. There is always something new, refreshing and beyond your imagination. It’s that element of surprise, sprinkling on you as you uncover a new monument, a new culture, a new dish…

Experience a New Culture

If you’re considering quitting your job, slinging on that long-forsaken backpack of yours, it’s time to do it! I’m sharing with you some good reasons why we travel:

Learning something new everyday keeps us going to various corners of the World I’d never thought I would ever be. You might be discovering bits and pieces of new knowledge at a time, like the love story of the King who built Taj Mahal, or how ‘tapas’ were invented, or even tips on how to ride a camel. Life is an endless learning journey.

Finding myself changing psychologically after every single trip gets me yearning for more. Be it a short jaunt or a long trip, I always leave feeling slightly different from who I was. My eyes opened up to a new city and people.  A recent short trip to Cambodia opened my eyes to the poverty and consequences of war, and I feeling for the less fortunate more than ever.

Meeting all sorts of people – from fellow travellers to native war victims, there is a life story behind all these faces. I remember meeting an old Chinese lady on a bus ride to Fishermen’s Wharf in SF, and ending up touring Chinatown with her. She bought me the best dumplings I’ve ever had, and told me priceless stories of how she escaped from China to the US, bringing up her son with her bare hands and learning English. Tales like this stay with me forever.

Injecting excitement to an otherwise monotonous life, travelling is our channel of escapism from ordinary life. Friends with a good career slog 9-to-5, and return home to a whole stack of credit card bills and a fat mortgage. We don’t own any valuable assets, but in return, we chalk up on our mileage, travel tales to pass on to our children, and good friends from different corners of the world.

Pushing ourselves to the limit gives us the satisfaction we can’t get elsewhere. I’m not an athlete and far from being a sports enthusiast, but somehow, bungee-jumping in the midst of a jungle in Thailand and hiking up to the peak of the Aboriginal mountains of Kakadu make me feel proud of who I am.

Feeling unbeatable after conquering countless challenges is an undescribable sensation. There are always ups and downs while on the road – being stuck in a riot, having no clue of the local language and communicating with hand signs, or even getting hypnotized into buying Arabic carpets. Travelling poses one mind-boggling obstacle after another, but once we overcome them, nothing else can stand in our way.

Going through highs and lows with my travel soulmate brings us even closer together. Since we met, we’ve been on the road together. I’d never met a better travel mate than him, we’re opposites but yet have similar interest when travelling. Nothing has made our lives together happier and more colorful than seeing the World together.

Travelling is really addictive. Once you start, you can’t stop. When you’ve seen the Grand Canyon, you wanna see the Andes, and once you’ve experienced that, you wanna go on to Mount Everest.

What about you? Why do you travel?


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

18 Responses to “Why We Travel”

  1. Peter Carey April 21, 2009 5:56 pm

    Nodding and more nodding! For me, I like the exploration and movement of travel. I like to be in motion and while I am quite happy being in one place, I also like 'getting there'. Trekking has an appeal that way, where every day is something new and you're always moving.

  2. 1002things April 22, 2009 3:44 pm

    I really love that you discuss the effects travelling has had on your relationship. I too have found travelling with my partner has brought us closer and helped me define all the things I love about him. I think jetting off together can be the perfect litmus test for how you'll work for the rest of your lives.

  3. Nellie April 22, 2009 3:50 pm

    Thanks guys for sharing! I love hearing from you guys on your travel thoughts. Be it the notion of getting there and being on the move, or bonding on a deeper level with our travel soulmates, they're why we fell in love with travelling. Great to hear from you guys!

  4. Keith Jenkins May 3, 2009 10:42 am

    Definitely nodding here! That's a great post. Well done! I travel for all the reasons above. Ever since I first travelled to a foreign country at the age of 9, I've become rather obsessed with it. I recently had a session with a coach who specialised in reading people's auras and the first thing he saw about me was constant movement and he conjured a very vivid image of a sailing ship. That was certainly an eye-opener! Travelling is definitely a part of me.

  5. Dave & Deb May 25, 2009 3:15 pm

    Nellie, I feel the same way. Every time I travel my life is enriched. When I am not traveling, I am day dreaming of when I will be leaving again. It can definitely be a challenge sometimes, but like you said, when we conquer a challenge and push ourselves to the limit, it is an enormous sense of accomplishment. Well written.

  6. Jeff Cheah November 18, 2009 4:51 pm

    The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Saint Augustine.
    Travelling is about Engagement, different people conduct their business in a different manner with almost similar results. It's about Encounter. It's about Awareness. It's' about Knowledge. It's about Experience

  7. Monica April 5, 2010 11:43 am

    Nod! Nod! Nod! Nod! Nod! I travel because it makes me feel alive.

  8. jessiev April 5, 2010 3:00 pm

    LOVE this. you're right! i travel because it makes me HAPPY.

  9. Shivya July 5, 2011 6:22 pm

    Spot on, Nellie. Traveling is such an addiction. I just got home from 2 months on the road and read this post, and now I’m itching to be out there again. Such is life, and such is your blog :)

  10. Astrid August 2, 2011 10:45 am

    Agree on all points! I recently wrote a similar entry. Traveling gives you such contentment and thrill in life that your daily job wont :)

  11. InaRaft August 18, 2011 5:38 am

    Yeah, i've recently read a book called Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski. I picked it up in a small bookstore in Krakow Poland and though it is short, it has touched me in a number of ways. It is a worthwhile read for anyone who has an urge to travel and doesn't understand where that urge is coming from. I don't know if I can throw everything down and take off myself, but if I could muster the courage to do so… I would!

  12. ManilaCitizen January 17, 2013 1:27 am

    "Meeting all sorts of people – from fellow travellers to native war victims, there is a life story behind all these faces. I remember meeting an old Chinese lady on a bus ride to Fishermen’s Wharf in SF, and ending up touring Chinatown with her. She bought me the best dumplings I’ve ever had, and told me priceless stories of how she escaped from China to the US, bringing up her son with her bare hands and learning English. Tales like this stay with me forever."

    Well said. Meeting other people is actually one of the most precious moments in the life of a traveller. There's just too much to know. I sometimes feel small, but at the end, I am glad they become part of my journey.


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