Traveling Doesn’t Make You an Adult, It Guides You

Social media is full of beautiful, inspirational photos of mountain ranges, sandy shores, and smiling happy people amidst the sunset. The owners of those same photos have an about me section that might say ‘addicted to traveling’ or ‘professional nomad’, to which I cannot help but gag.

This ‘nomadic movement’ I’ve witnessed on social media has targeted a young and broke crowd. It’s advertising an attractive illusion that traveling full-time and posting photos of all your adventures will give you a thousand followers and makes you a fascinating, independent adult! Essentially, pics or it didn’t happen. But that sure is easy to fake, too, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong, imagining my cute toes peeking out a camper parked beneath nearest mountain range is enough to make me want to leave work, but I have to save up my money long before a trip. This means I don’t ask my parents to fork over the dough on a plane ticket or cruise just to prove I don’t sit at home all day. There’s a reason why people say “work for the life you want”, because your life is not simply handed to you in a nice packed bag. A child gets handed things, an adult works for them.

My own experience and listening to others perspective on what they want to do in the future have molded this idea, too. To put what all I’ve heard into one sentence, it would go something like: “I want to move far away and live in the mountains, quit my job and forget about this city!” Followed with something like “I’d be so happy doing that.” It hurt to hear something like this every time, too, because I’d say, “You don’t know that, you just want to believe it to forget about where you are now.” It’s hard being realistic and not sound pessimistic, so I would always get a negative reaction because it’s not what they wanted to hear. They don’t think about how much it sucks to move (I’ve moved 18 times in 23 years), or the friends and family they wouldn’t see anymore, or the cost of living in those mountains.

It is a great reprieve to daydream, but this thinking got to the point to where I saw others becoming unhappy with their situation and resentful of being unable to travel. Such a childlike urge to run away from lifes problems is common; but if you want to travel to escape your current life, then be ready to face other, new problems down the road. A problem free life is one where you can’t get stronger from your mistakes or experiences, where you can’t understand the extent of your creativity to solve problems, and is inevitably one that is unexciting. . . and bland.

As for my experience, I was able to get funding for a trip to Europe in highschool. I think of it as a blessing for ‘nipping the travel bug in the bud’ at an early age. Of course my parents helped me pay for food, but since then I’ve funded trips on my own or split with friends, gas money and all. Dependent or not, I’m definitely not against traveling of any kind. I’ve have taken trips to Reno, took my first snowboarding trip in Vancouver (I should really call it my first ass-kicking), and have been mountaineering on Mt. ShastaTraveling has guided me on how to take care of myself emotionally and financially, leading me towards becoming an independent adult, and the reason I still want to do it today.

But until then as I save up money for another trip, I ask myself this simple question:

Why not create a life you don’t need to escape from?

Declutter your space, donate old clothes, sell some unused outdoor gear online, that untouched bike, or even rent gear to try something new in your hometown! Lots of wanderlust enthused people find the idea of freeing themselves from their possessions appealing, and that’s because you are selling away some responsibilities. Starting a minimalist life is a freeing endeavor in itself, and it could be the first step in molding your life into how you want it.

Whatever you decide to do though, a change of scenery or getting out of your comfort zone can create new opportunities, memories, and experiences. I believe this is the reason people love traveling. Even soaking in the view of a different spot from the same place is refreshing, like when I found a beach about a mile from where I live. Still, exploring the same city doesn’t always soothe my restless soul.

So, what I am saying is, don’t travel to compare your life to others, and certainly not to turn your social media profile into a competition for the raddest life ever lived, (Alex Honnold has already taken that spot in my opinion). Save your money to see the world for yourself and begin creating a life you don’t want to escape from, so that whatever it is you work for is everything you’ve hoped.

– The Curious Climber

Editors Note: The Curious Climber runs one of our favorite climbing web-sites, if you’re searching for a unique and fun site that focuses on climbing, then you should definitely check it out.   With a great mix of stories, ideas, and quirky lore, The Curious Climber comes correct.  The Curious Climber

– The Dihedral

43 Replies to “Traveling Doesn’t Make You an Adult, It Guides You”

  1. Great post. I have done some traveling in the past – but with a little one I’m happy just to go as far as the local parks on weekends!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this! “Why not create a life you don’t need to escape from?”

    I’ve always suffered (sometimes really suffered) from wanderlust. In my late 20s that desire to BE SOMEWHERE ELSE drew me to China. It was 1982, not now. I remember telling one of my former professors I was studying Chinese with one of the extremely rare students who came to the US from China back in those days. He asked me why. I said, “I just want to GO somewhere!!!”

    He smiled wryly, and quoted Milton, “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Sort of a fancy way to say, “Wherever I go, there I am.”

    I ended up teaching in China for a year and I loved it. It was absolutely the right thing for me; the urge to GO SOMEWHERE was true. I found a job that paid my way because I didn’t have money. It was a very hard year, full of self-discovery, physical miseries, more to learn than I could have learned in a life time. It was great.

    I still travel and I’m amazed when people say, “Lucky you!” in THAT tone of voice. It’s a choice. It’s never free and it’s never luck. It’s always difficult in some way and that is part of the draw for me. Always GO, but not to impress others. 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

    1. That’s a great story. I’m happy you love where you are. I hope to go to China one day myself! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The whole “escaping your problems” by traveling is an important caveat infrequently mentioned by many of those promoting the full-time travel, “Instagram lifestyle.” Regardless of whether someone moves across their city or halfway across the world, that same person is with you the entire time, that is to say, YOU. You can’t escape yourself, no matter how majestic the destination.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. This perspective has merit, but so does one that sees this trend as a new wave of counter-culturalism, albeit a rather self absorbed one. Throwing of consumer culture and materialism is nothing new, and if Kerouac’s Beat Generation or the 1960’s hippies had instagram, i’m willing to wager that they’d have used it as a platform to express their views and lifestyle too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a good phrase on how to describe how we use instagram, as it is essentially an ideal platform for advertising as well as story telling. Makes me wonder how we’ll do it in another 20 years!


  4. I just got back from a week long trip and this post is resonating with me. I love travelling but I find long periods away make it challenging for me to pursue my other interests like painting which requires space—not to say it can’t be done.

    I’m guilty of saying “I wanna live in the woods.” And I’ve come to shift that thought by saying “The woods are my backyard.” I’m thankful I am able to say that I can cycle for 30 minutes and be surrounded by trees. I am also happy with things I have going on in my small-city life and I feel like if I moved into the woods, I’d be losing that. While my home is not in the woods, it is surrounded by the opportunity to get into the woods.

    Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I am amused by people who want to “explore the world” but can’t be bothered to explore their own state or country. Heck of a lot easier if you start local.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I love this post so much. You perfectly articulated something that’s been on my mind a lot lately!

    “Let’s buy a sprinter van and hit the road” has become a mantra my husband and I use when life gets tough, but as amazing as it sounds we understand it’s not a real solution. I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado after college and am thankful for the beautiful places I’ve been able to explore and sports I’ve been able to get into (including climbing!) as a result of living close to the mountains. But my life is still filled with uncertainties and regrets, just as everyone’s is.

    My Instagram feed is almost all outdoor photos from places in Colorado and surrounding states, yet I still look at other people who travel full time with envy. Everything comes full circle when my friends who still live in Wisconsin talk to me about the things I’ve done in Colorado, and I can tell by their tone that they wish their lives could be like mine. If only they knew there were aspects of their lives I wished I had.

    I think we’d all be much happier and more satisfied with our own lives if we took the time to really reflect on the positive things we’ve done and realized that we are all privileged in some way. No one leads a truly perfect life, but if you’ve crafted one that’s enjoyable most of the time, who cares what everyone else is up to?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! I checked out your Instagram, too, and I love it! Keep up the adventures and the awesome posts 🙂


  7. Great post! This perfectly summarizes what is going on in my mind. Your post inspires me to dig deeper and rethink. Especially the social media digital nomad movement is something I’ve found quite inspiring for a certain time before realizing the downsides of that “lifestyle” – always being a stranger and not belonging anywhere, missing what your friends at home are doing and not being able to create meaningful and deep friendships on the road would be something that would leave me feel kind of empty despite all the wonderful and exciting things along the way.

    I also realized that the urge to travel might be often mixed up with boredom resulting from daily routines and living a comfortable live. Daytrips and trying out new things is definitely helpful and enriches your life. Indeed it does not replace traveling completely, but it helps to embrace the life you are living now instead of concentrating on things you can’t or won’t do out of many reasons.

    This is also the reason why I started my own blog – would be glad if you check it out and follow me or leave a comment on my site.

    Greetings from Germany,


    Liked by 4 people

  8. Wife and I just got back from 3 weeks in Ireland and England. The one thing we agree upon is that we should have chosen one B&B and stayed there 3 weeks instead of bouncing around to 14 different B&Bs and hotels. Preferable a quiet rural one with lots of animals and good country to hike and easy access to a rail line. By skipping across the surface you see a lot of things but you really don’t get to know anything well.

    I’ll check out your blog!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Great post . When we first were able to travel we tried to cram in as much as possible and it resulted in a exhausting and stressful experience. There is a lot to be said for getting outside and loving what you already have. I do look
    Forward to traveling now that we have allowed time to enjoy new places and can spontaneously discover hidden treasures. But I always look forward to coming home and relishing what I have right here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Really inspiring post. “Live the life you imagined”. I only started travelling when I started working full-time, and while I love the relaxation and being far from work, I know that I wouldn’t appreciate it as much if I didn’t work so hard for it, if I didn’t undergo the challenges of working as a nurse (a career which I love btw). I can’t imagine travelling full-time; even my 2-3 trips a year alone were tough to plan and execute, let alone the money I have to save for it. At the end of the day I want to be in a place I call home, living a life I’ve worked hard for (because that also brings me a sense of joy) and one that makes me happy (and that means being near friends and family, taking up hobbies and such) – even if it’s “normal”.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Whilst I agree that advertising is evil and travelling for the sake of bloating ones own ego (and letting everyone know about it) can be seen as equally as horrid, consuming other cultures and expanding ones own experience is a point worth considering. Travelling is not just a form of escapism, it can give one a less insular world view and see humanity as a whole for what it is, what it isn’t, what it could be and what it should be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great point. It is great to travel to expose yourself to different cultures, and getting out of town every once in awhile is always recommended! Everyone needs this in their life at some point in my opinion, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Still learning how to make such a life for myself! Most of my travel the past three years has been the result of work, teaching in China, and even during those long stretches of time abroad, I took advantage of every opportunity to “get away” from my responsibilities, by visiting different areas most people outside China had never seen. I can look back on those experiences and consider myself lucky to be there; but I also regard them as periods of struggle, confusion, and anxiety, which have all taught me important things about myself and how I lead my life.

    One other thing I’ve learned from my travels is that you can be a traveler of your own home. What I mean is, you can experience your hometown like a traveler, approaching this world you’ve grown up in (or spent a great deal of time in) with new eyes. I think one of things that is most lost on us in mainstream living is that sense of awe or appreciation you encounter when you really do see something new, even if it’s right outside your door. Take it upon yourself to see a side of that world you never imagined existed.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. LOVE this! I see so many new “van lifers” on youtube, and I can tell that some of them are definitely fake and basically showing lots of skin so that they can make some money off of subscribers clicking like, etc.

    Two years ago, I moved away from my family and have moved about 4 times since. Your comment about how you don’t have those other friends around anymore really hit the nail on the head with me about that. One of the things I miss most about the east coast is my friends. And yes, it was $$$$$ to move! Each time!

    I love your writing style, btw!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m happy to know there are others that know exactly what I’m talking about. And also, I didn’t know about the Youtubers either, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks so much for the comment!


  14. Great blog and really thoughtful post! I often wonder when people say ‘lucky you’, if they really think about what that means… travelling is something I always wholeheartedly recommend, from the perspective of having the chance to see something more of the world, but it involves working hard beforehand for the money, as well as during the travel, working with your mindset… because the main piece of luggage which you’ll always take with you, no matter how minimally you have packed, is yourself. And sometimes, that can weigh in at quite a few kgs 😉 Also, whilst I like travelling slow and for a long period of time, it always gets to a point where I want to be working and settled somewhere, to let life grow and blossom more slowly over time, have regular meetings with regular friends, and contribute properly to something- building a life from which I don’t want to escape, indeed! But I think the travel can often give you the perspective to appreciate this latter golden nugget 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  15. That was a really elegant way to put it! ” the main piece of luggage which you’ll always take with you. . . , is yourself.” And it is good to become a tourist in your own city every now and then, but also to travel outside your comfort zone.Thanks for commenting!


    1. You’re welcome! That’s nice to hear- thank you 🙂 Trying to remember to be a tourist in your own city is also a good point to remember. Happy travels and non-travels!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Love it. And you are exactly right in my view. Creating a life you don’t want to run away from is so important. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t want to travel. I do want to travel, and I have travelled. But I have to work to make it happen, and other commitments sometimes hold me back. Such is life, it is not just one big escape. That will catch up with you in the end I think. A really interesting post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well said. To which I would add, “don’t pass through a city in a day, give each place time to work its magic on you”. I might travel halfway around the world to visit a country but I won’t whizz through it when I get there, I’ll just do two or three places in maybe two weeks. Enjoying your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sound advice, don’t go travelling for travelling’s sake. I traveled around Europe in 1986 because I got accepted to the University of London and intended to spend a year in England studying, which I did. However that one year has now become 31 years.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Wise words. So many discontented people when the answer is in their backyard. It’s why I’ve never drawn up a bucket list – it creates a sense of alienation from your life and loved ones and what happens if you can’t fulfil it? More discontent and a sense of failure. I’ve always followed “It seemed like a good idea at the time” and had lots of adventures including travel but not by design, more by happenstance.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Travelling is absolutely amazing… it opens our minds, it nourishes our souls…

    The ultimate travel – a loved person once whispered into my ears as I was at the airport, bidding farewell before a long trip “Enjoy the travel within, which is the best of all trips…” – is the trip within ourselves…

    I am 100% with you when you say “create a life you do not have to escape from”. Know what you are seeking to find when you think of escaping… and bring it into your life for good! Then you can have it everyday AND when you travel. How great would that be?

    Set clear goals! And act to achieve them.

    Thanks for an inspiring text!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for the post. Recently, the thought of “creating a life I don’t need to vacation from” came back to me. This post also serves as a reminder of the same. I have been sensing the minimalism call in my life. Again the post is a reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Great post. If we never had to work to earn our travel dollars, would we ever fully appreciate the travel? And if we are only travelling to put another notch on our travel belt or complete some bucket list, would we ever be satisfied enough to enjoy the destinations for what they are?

    As to being nomadic, I moved 28 times in the first 17 years of life and 6 times in the next 3. That knocked the nomadic right out of me. Since then, I have moved only 4 times in 44 years. Much as I love to travel, it is always nice to have a home base to come back to

    Liked by 1 person

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