Why sometimes is better to stay at home

Photo by Zack Marshall on Unsplash

We all have a clear picture in our minds about what kind of dreams we want to achieve, what are our preferences, and how we would like to live our life.

We all want an interesting, well paid, secure job with good benefits. Plenty of spare time to spend with our loved ones and also to enjoy our hobbies.

We want happiness, love, adventure, travel and nice stuff.

Duh? What’s not to like?

But have you ever wonder why you desire those things? Has it occurred to you that all these wishes might be just an illusion? That we might have been influenced and cajole into these aspirations when perhaps they are not ours?

Take travel, for example. It goes without saying that you must travel once or twice a year to exotic destinations to compete with other tourists to take selfies in the exact same spot.

By the way, did you know that taking pictures of the Eiffel tower is illegal? Go figure.

Where does this need for traveling come from? It’s counterintuitive when you observe the behavior of humans thought history.

Traveling for leisure has become part of the social narrative that binds us together. It has it’s origins, like many other dreams, in Hollywood.

When you see people traveling, having fun, making love in Paris, London or Venice, you suddenly develop an unconscious desire to emulate your heroes on the screen, to go there and see for yourself those wonderful places, you don’t want to miss out.

So you go there only to find that reality doesn’t live up to expectations.

Traveling for fun wasn’t on the agenda of most people until 40 years ago. We managed to survive without touristry for 200.000 years but all of a sudden it is a must. Not only we want to travel but also we frowned upon by people who don’t.

My father’s generation never felt the urge to get into a plane and explore places and I (must admit) have criticized them for it. But then I realized why would they? What is so great about touristification? And why should everybody do it or be relegated to second class citizens?

The thing is, most of what we call traveling is overrated and doesn’t provide any value to those who engage in it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling but I get the feeling most people don’t enjoy it and only do it out of FOMO.

I’ve traveled to more than 40 countries and I would like to keep exploring the world but let me tell you, most of those experiences have been disappointing.

Whenever I find myself in a place surrounded by tourists I can’t help but thinking: “This is shit”

I only enjoy places that are off the beaten track, where I get to make meaningful connections and taste the local way of life.

Traveling like this is risky, uncomfortable, lonely, and challenging but it’s the way I like it. Maybe I’m just a victim of all the adventure propaganda I swallowed as a kid: Robinson Crusoe, Marco Polo, Willie Fog, and all that but, it’s my delusion, let me enjoy it.

Kevin Kelly said that there are two ways to travel; with lots of time and with lots of cash. The first one is much better.

Travel has to be uncomfortable. When you look for comfort you are just trying to recreate your life at home only somewhere else. If you enjoy comfort just stay home, it’s better and cheaper.

Cleopatra despite all her power and wealth never showed any inclination to visit Mesopotamia or the river Tigris, it just didn’t make any sense.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Mass illusions

We are very easy to influence, not only we let others pull our strings but we also deny this is the case and strongly defend our free choices.

We passionately defend some brands, political parties, or teams unaware of the fact that we have been manipulated. We even become tribal as a response to marketing campaigns: “My iPhone is better than your Android”, Coke vs Pepsi, Mercedes vs Tesla.

This is fine as long as we realize that these are just illusions created by others to persuade us.

Traveling is an obvious mass illusion. We all need dreams and that makes us vulnerable to exploitation by the Dreams manufacturers: Literature, Hollywood, and the tourism industry.

When you dream about travel is perfect, when you travel it is not.

Do you really feel the need to travel to faraway places in a metal tube in order to consume junk food at high prices? I’m selling it, right?

You rather stay home and work on yourself.

Travel inwards

Again, tourism is just an example, there are many other delusions than don’t bring us happiness. We’ve been pressurized to believe that we need experiences, stuff and comfort in order to be complete, but for most people, this is just not true.

How can we know if our desires are real or just an illusion?

By going deep into our mind and discover who we truly are and what we want.

You might discover that traveling is really what you want, then go and do it, but don’t just fall into the trap of fabricated desires.

Buddha said that desire is at the root of all evil. He had a point.

So, minimize your desires, select only those that come from your real self and discard those that have been planted in your mind. That will save you a lot of wastage.

How to know if you are a traveler or not:

  • Do you have fond memories of the places you’ve been, the people you met and the experiences you went through?
  • Would you come back to those places?
  • Would you travel without a camera, phone or without being able to share your experience with anyone?
  • Have you ever pretended to like a place when deep down you were disappointed?
  • Is your reason for traveling FOMO?
  • Do you often name drop places just to impress somebody?

You get the picture.

Traveling is hard work, the jet lag, the food, the language barrier, the lack of comfort, so you should only do it for the right reasons. Don’t let the media tell you what to desire.

There is a reason why the feeling of anticipation is better than the actual experience — Idealization

The number of times I’ve been to a “must-see” destination only to think:” Is this it?”

Places I consider overrated:

  • The Pyramids. I think they are a fantastic achievement of human endeavor, but once you are there, meh. The same applies to all historical buildings, you need to understand the history behind it to truly appreciate it.
  • The Niagara Falls. Yeah, spectacularly disappointing
  • The Eiffel tower. Guy de Maupassant ate lunch every day at the base of The Eiffel Tower because that was the only place in Paris from which he could not see it …
  • New York. A hyped-up city
  • LA. Not even a city

But I have enjoyed immensely these other places:

  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • Kazakhstan

In general, if you are planning a trip to a mainstream destination, don’t bother. People ruin places. For years, I wanted to go to Iceland, no more, too popular.

I intend to visit places like Colombia, some parts of Brazil (Not Rio), Senegal, Siberia, Poland, the Sahara among others. The point is to avoid touristification.

In the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, the author warns us about the trap of “staged authenticity” that some pursue claiming to be travelers, not tourists, in their Instagram account. Authenticity is not what you think it is. You don’t have to hunt with the Maasai or build igloos with the Eskimos, just having a beer in a bamboo bar while watching Man united is more real because it’s actually what they do.

In general, traveling needs time and time is not something we have a lot of. Better to travel once every 5 years and spend 3 months in a place than the usual 1 week in a resort.

Now with the Corona Virus, tourism is going to change, maybe is the end of it. Who knows?

In any case, enjoy where you live and explore your local area, is probably full of gems you haven’t discovered yet.

Student of life. Trying to make sense of it all, be happy and help others achieve their dreams. Join me at: albertotheauthor@gmail.com

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