The question struck me against the backdrop of a very unexpected occasion. It was sharp 4 o'clock in the morning and my phone alarm had just stolen away a beautiful dream. My eyes had opened but my pupils were still resting, so all I could see was a gauzy darkness. For a brief while, I managed to convince myself that my wakefulness is but a mistake, and I should go back to sleep again. But then I rolled over to see my zippered suitcase, and my irritation vented out in the form of a sleepy groan: I'd to go to the airport.
It's not that I hated flying. In fact, the science behind getting a fat metal bird floating and cruising through the upper troposphere has always awed me. The thrill of landing at an entirely unknown place has always excited me more than anything else. Although I've always preferred those undusted bookstalls in congested railway stations over chic yet sad airport malls, that's not what had been bothering me.
Minutes of contemplation in the shower uncovered the real reason behind my irritation. This time, I was travelling out of compulsion, as my work had demanded of me. I was travelling because I was having to, and not because I wanted to, like the rest of the times.
And that very contemplation gradually led me to think: Why do we actually travel? Why are so many of us leaving our homes just to voyage all over the globe? I couldn't get away with my compulsion, but sitting on that same flight somewhere above 30,000 ft, my pen sought the answers to these questions.
Having met backpackers, solo travellers, gypsy souls and almost every kind of wanderer along my trips, it has been pretty clear that the reasons why people love to travel are widely varied. And very personal, too.
More than often I travel to create some distance between myself and everything that exists, presently, in my life. Challenging myself with new places, faces and experiences is my go-to drug that helps me rejuvenate from the monotonous routine of life.
What is it that ignites the itchy-footed, restless, careless voyager in you? Take a look at these motivations that I've compiled from my conversations with countless globetrotters. See which one of these rings true for you.
1. A Change
For most of us, the glory of travel is change. Change from our daily routine, change from our work and culture. And what gives us that much-needed change is travelling as it lets us see new places, try new things and meet new people.
It is by being in a place you've never visited before, you are able to change your mindset and free yourself from all the stresses and strains of everyday life.
2. A Challenge
To travel is the ideal thing to do when you're yearning for something exciting or craving new experiences and challenges. Travelling pushes you to your limits and gets them outside their comfort zone.
In scenarios like finding your way around a new, busy city or trying to communicate when you don't speak their language, you'll discover how well you can utilise your resources. Overcoming those challenges makes you realise your capability, thus, building confidence.
3. A Learning Ground
Seeing the world is any day more educational than high school. Agree? Every destination you visit has something unique to teach. Some trips teach you a new language, some a new cuisine or sometimes you learn aspects of different cultures, faiths and spiritual beliefs. You, thus, develop a wider view of the world around that no textbook can offer.
4. An Escape
Remember Julia Roberts' "Eat Pray Love"? Be it your demanding job, a bad breakup or loss of a loved one, escaping to travel has always healed the stress and unhappiness that come along life's path.
We seek from our travels what we don't have back home: freedom to be the real you, do things that are you're usually not free to do, gather experiences that you can't normally have. And once you return home after your own sweet escape, you're at peace with yourself to start everything afresh.
5. Sometimes, A Way Of Connecting With Yourself
Being away from home gives you the rare opportunity to reflect on your own life; learn more about yourself.
While travelling, you have the time and space to let your mind wander free and get closer to understanding who you are deep within, what you want out of life. You come home knowing yourself better. And these fresh perspectives are capable of changing your life.
Searching for more reasons to travel? Don't. There need not be any particular reason for you to pack your bags and set yourself free. Remember, years from now you won't regret the things you did, but the things you didn't do. The risks you didn't take. The dreams you didn't pursue.