Why "Taking Adventures To Know Where You Belong" Is Complete Bullshit

As a traveler and blogger, I tend to follow a lot of inspirational travel sites, see a lot of pictures and read a lot of travel quotes. One I see a lot is, "We must take adventures to know where we truly belong."

You've probably seen it on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or wherever, right? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it's complete bullshit.

For one year of my life I traveled to 7 different countries. I ate food that I couldn’t pronounce. I met people who fundamentally changed my life and beliefs. Most of all, I saw how other countries functioned and I have never felt so happily lost in my life. Every country took a piece of my heart, and I desperately want to call them all home.

I get asked a lot, "What was it like to spend a year traveling?" And the best answer I can come up with is it's a bit giving a fat man a piggyback ride. There is the weight of managing your money and making sure you aren't going to be stuck on the streets of Paris because you bought too many macaroons, we can't all be on a no limit budget, am I right? Constantly being on the road, checking you haven't lost your passport, wallet or your mind is priority #1, and for me the biggest stress of travel. There is also an insane pressure that traveling means that you somehow find yourself and that it answers all your questions about life. I felt like there was this expectation that because I traveled, I magically found my life path. Once I got back to the United States, what happened was the fat man was no longer my backpack, but instead of leaving for good, he occasionally sat with me at my new office job and reminded me that I still hadn’t given him a good answer to where I belonged in life. What was my career going to be? Was I brave now? Was I happy now? Could I finally be content with finding myself a home?

Finally, after much guilt about not finding any answers during my year of travel, I realized that my lust for travel would never be satisfied. No matter how much I loved my job or the people in my life, there would always be the pull of wanting to go somewhere new on my heart. I accepted that I would never feel at home anywhere. Once I embraced that longing, I realized that was my answer. 
Travel should not be the answer to your problems. It should not tell you where home is or where you belong, because you belong all over this big, beautiful planet. Travel forces us to make connections all over the world, and I think if you’re doing it right you too will leave pieces of your heart all over the world.

You’ll find yourself back at, “home,” fantasizing over your favorite bar in Italy, missing the smell of the air after it rains in Amsterdam, or the day you spent in the Natural History Museum in London. You’ll remember the inside jokes you made with friends you now have all over the world, and it will break your heart.

Traveling is the greatest joy and greatest heart ache you will know in your life. I hope when you travel, it makes you utterly confused about where you belong, because at the end of the day, you will belong to all the world and not just one place.

Brooke JohnstonComment