Six pesky questions travellers are often asked – and real responses to them
A few years ago, I won a T-shirt from F5 Escapes in a Facebook contest for coming up with this shamelessly Tolkien-inspired slogan “Not all those who wander are lost, but those who don’t wander surely are!” If you relate to this – you’re probably a traveller, and if you’re a traveller, you’ve probably been asked some of these questions – and other variants of these! It’s time we travellers clear our name – and in that spirit, here goes…
Why do you waste so much money / vacation time/ energy / effort on travel?
First of all, we travellers don’t see it as a ‘waste’ at all. For us, the rest of our lives are a means to an end – and that end is travel. We work to make money to find (and fund!) these adventures. Second, what else would you recommend we do with said time and money? “Save up”? For when we’re older and wearier and cannot/should not travel anyway? Sorry – but we believe in “Carpe Diem” – seize the day!
What are you running away from, traveling so much all the time?
Instead of asking us this, maybe the real question to ask yourself is, “What are you hiding from?” Why do you fear travel? What’s the worst that could happen? We travellers are not running away from anything – we are seeking something that cannot be gained by armchair theorising or watercooler gossip or binge-watching TV shows. We are seeking connection…to others, to the world, to nature, to coincidences, to possibilities. In every trip we’ve taken, we travellers have made some improbable connections and said the magic words “Small world!”
Don’t you get lonely, traveling so much by yourself?
Yeah absolutely – just like you get lonely, feeling desperately misunderstood by your partner, or just like you feel all alone in a crowded train or office, or just like you feel isolated in a room full of people. Loneliness and solitude are different. Travellers know the difference.
It’s easy for those who don’t have ‘responsibilities’ to travel like this…but I’m a very busy <insert self-important label>! How can you expect me to do it?
This one really makes us cringe – and laugh and cry at once! For every person who thinks that parenting, running a business, working for a sweatshop *cough* IT company, volunteering for a Residents Welfare Association, being a yoga teacher, caring for older relatives, etc. are ‘responsibilities’ that keep you from travelling, we will show you travellers who have these same responsibilities and much, much more. We will show you travellers whose life and work ‘back home’ have been enriched manifold, due to their travels and adventures ‘on the road’. We will show you that being busy and responsible must include taking time off to show yourself and your loved ones what exists beyond your usual boundaries
How come you have such interesting experiences when you travel and we don’t?
Travellers attract travellers, tourists attract touts. Big tour groups require tour operators to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Traveling alone or in small groups allows for flexibility, for you to seek out experiences instead of tourist traps, to make mistakes and stumble into joy instead of staying safe and stumbling into other bored folks. Also, ‘interesting’ is 99% framing, 1% reality – a vehicle breaking down in the middle of a jungle could be any number of things, but travellers would be able to come back and tell an interesting story, instead of dwelling on the risk and danger.
Don’t you get scared/nervous to travel, especially alone or with strangers?
Yes, of course we do! But don’t you get scared before a big interview, before holding your baby for the first time, before meeting someone on a first date, before sending in your manuscript to a publisher, before taking your new car out for a ride? Everything exciting is also scary, every new beginning is nerve-racking – but if you never talk to strangers, you might never make a friend. And if you don’t take that first step, you may never cross the ocean or fulfil your destiny. So yes, even travellers are often scared to travel, but we are much more scared to think that we could never travel!
Travel is a privilege and a gift. For me, travelling has brought more friends, learning, joys and growth than any classroom, mobile app or textbook could have. Yes, it is scary, risky, difficult, lonely, exhausting and challenging a dozen different ways. But no, I would not trade in my wanderlust for anything else in the world!
‘F5 Escapes’ is a Bangalore-based, experiential travel company, with a focus on redefining the way women travel in India. The premise of F5 is an ambitious dream – to put India on the global travel map as a preferred destination for women from across the globe.
F5 Escapes offers fixed departure all-women group tours, customized itineraries for families, groups and solo travellers. We also do in-city engagements which include #JustGo travel meetups, workshops to educate women on travel safety, sustainable menstruation, motorbiking etc.