I’m taken with the idea of traveling– the places you’ll visit, the sights you’ll see, the sounds and experiences to be felt. I spent time on the phone with my sister, chatting for an hour or two late into the night on a weekday about plans to volunteer in Costa Rica. I’ve been craving for another adventures outside of the country outside of Paris, while also looking for opportunities to do good. I dream of a time when I can spend time in abroad, immersing myself in a different culture that I’m eager to learn, faced with people I’m intrigued to understand, and placed in situations that will both challenge and strengthen me. We learned of this volunteer placement program called IVHQ, which offers affordable programs for anyone interested in volunteering. Volunteering abroad can be expensive, and so many people shy away from it because of this reason. So we looked for an organization that would allow us to connect to a non-profit abroad and would be affordable at the same time. We were almost a quarter of the way into the process, reached out to the coordinators for accommodation questions, marked the potential dates in our calendar… then learned that my sister can’t go on vacation on the optimal two weeks we were hoping to do this trip. We just need to plan another date, but hopefully I won’t have to wait until labor day for that. Ideally, I would like a trip every quarter, and this year I’d like to have one at least in the first half of the year.
I subscribe to travel magazines and read travel blogs frequently, vicariously living through the adventures of others and outlining goals and a plan for my next travel adventure. Many of these travel bloggers are young and carefree, whose first priority is to travel. They’ve either just graduated from college or worked for a few years when they’ve decided to leave everything behind and move some place else. Some of them have traveled abroad before. While others seemed like their previous travels were more domestic. Yet one thread was common among them: travel is a way to escape. Most of their blog intros talk about feeling burnt out, stressed and tired from the drudgery that all they wanted to do was to ship out to see what is out there.
I don’t blame them for this, in fact, I understand where they’re coming from. As much as I love my job, sometimes it can get a bit too much staying at your desk, sending out emails after another, creating reports, hopping on calls, scheduling meetings, etc. But I think there’s more to travel than a means to escape one’s current situation.
If you were to ask me, I think this idea of escaping has more to do with an issue at a personal level than external factors. It’s probably not the work, the location nor the hours that is so burdening– it’s how you are willing to tolerate these. Some people, especially colleagues who have not left already, are fine with this at some level, while others are less tolerant that they want to find other things that would tolerate, with the end goal of being happy.
I like to see travel not just an opportunity to escape, but as both a means and destination to a bigger goal. Travel is not about getting on a path to find happiness, or finding oneself. It’s strength training. It’s challenging and scary. At times it will destroy you, it will bring you back up, and push you toward the brink of wanting to go home. It is infuriating, with the injustices around the world that you will encounter. It’s annoying, especially when you can’t seem to get what you need to get done. It’s inconvenient especially when you don’t speak the language. Travelling has in store more possibilities for discovery when it’s purposeful.
When all I want is to escape the flat, uneventful days of work, that’s the least I want to travel. When I am immersed in my work and understand my place in my industry and ponder what experiences to explore, that’s when I want to travel. The world is big, filled with so many stories. There’s a constant stream of activity in some places; other areas are pretty tranquil. I want to see both. I want to feel that the world is so big, that it wouldn’t be possible to encompass it in a lifetime. I want to understand that no matter how huge the world is, how complex the associations, how multi-layered the situations, I want to feel that at least I’m a part of it, always thinking of ways on how to make an even bigger impact.