“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” – David Mitchell
“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” – Anonymous
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St Augustine
In the age of the Millennial, you can’t open Facebook without finding a gaggle of Pinterest quotes spouting wisdom about the benefits of travel. For the most part, we all agree: travelling is fun, worthwhile, educational and fulfilling.
Except when it’s not.
Here are a few times in life where it may be best to just stay put.
If you’re suffering from crippling financial debt.
Have you maxed out your credit cards and cash advances ? Do you foresee yourself paying off these debts in a reasonable timeframe – or does it feel nearly impossible to make the minimum payment on your Visa? If you fall into the latter category – wait before buying that plane ticket to Thailand. Instead, consider taking on a second job, cutting up your credit cards, and restructure your spending priorities. For more ideas on how to pay down your debts and finance your dream trip, click here.
*N.B.: If you can afford to keep making your monthly payments – “good debt” like mortgages and student loans shouldn’t hold you back from travel. Don’t wait 30 years to pay off your house before knocking some items off your bucket list.
You’re avoiding problems that can only be resolved at home.
When I left for Korea a year ago, I had no real long-term life plan, suffered from crippling anxiety and though I had cleared my debt, I had little to no money to my name. I’m sure glad I took the trip – it became one of the most revelatory experiences of my life – but the biggest lesson revealed to me during my travels was that no matter how far I travelled, I’d never be able to escape my problems. Even in a different time zone and completely different life, I had no plan, my anxiety worsened, and I was still broke.
So, I bought another plane ticket – and headed back home.
You’re only concerned about making your ex/ friends/co-workers jealous and/or impress people with your IG selfies and Snaps.
I once made the error of letting someone tag along with me to a dream destination. I wanted to bask in the beauty of the landscape, enjoy quiet moments watching the sunset, and meet fellow like-minded travellers from around the world. Instead, I was constantly asked to take selfies every couple of minutes to prove that we were having like #omgsuchanamazingtimelikecanyoueven. It was imperative that we had Wifi at all times so her ex-boyfriends, friends and frenemies could see what a sick time she was having.
But the sad truth is this: nobody really cares that much about your photos, because there are other, more awesome photos following yours on the Facebook newsfeed. Tropical selfies are great, but make sure you don’t miss a Balinese sunset because you’re so busy staring at yourself through the camera, wondering who’s watching back at home. If that’s where your only interest lies – save your money and take sexy selfies at your fave club back home.
You think inner peace can only be found at an ashram in India.
It’s called inner peace for a reason; it can only be found once you turn inward.
And guess what? Your body isn’t in India. It’s always wherever you are, right now.
You want (and expect) the comforts of your home, life and culture in another country.
You know the kind. People who travel to China and eat McDonald’s all week. The dude who travels to Japan and expects everyone to speak “American”. The annoying couple who fly to Vietnam, pay next to nothing for hotels and get pissed when the hot water runs out after 15 minutes.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to stay in a four-dollar-a-night hostel to get the most out of travelling. But if you’re only interested in the comforts of home you may take for granted – including Western fast food chains, hot water (or any running water), and people who speak your language – stay home. You’ll be missing out on the spectacular, local experiences that travelling is truly all about, anyway.
You truly believe you’re invincible and the universe will protect you regardless of what war zone you waltz into.
When I was 19, I desperately wanted to work as a journalist in Afghanistan. I worked for the Department of National Defence, and asked all my military colleagues to hook me up with a posting in Kabul.
I was blonde and curvy – and I only wore sexy, tight clothes and high heels. I also knew next to nothing about Afghanistan. I just thought it would be fun, badass and I’d make for a totally cute journalist in a war zone.
Thankfully, the men I worked with knew this about me. As such, a precious few made sure I never got that chance to head to Afghanistan; naive, unprepared and totally devoid of the right reasons anyone should head there to begin with.
Ask yourself what your reasons are for travelling to riskier destinations. Make sure they are essential.
You’re only interested in getting wasted and high all day.
Ask any seasoned traveller about Kuta in Bali, Indonesia. Once a beautiful, untarnished paradise, it’s now become known for being rife with drunken Aussies in their early twenties throwing up on dirty sand, publicly urinating everywhere and feigning masturbation with beer bottles (just ask Adventurous Kate about it). As a result of the economic boom due to incoming twenty-something wasteoids, Balinese locals in Kuta who barely speak English hawk shirts and stickers reading “Do You Even Lift?”, “Suck my Dick” and “Wash my Cum Rag”.
Yes, I was 22 once myself, and I was inebriated for at least 50% of my travels through Southeast Asia. I financed these operations with my mindless, drunken purchases. And though I think the parties were fun – I only remember 50% of my travels through destinations people save their entire lives to see ONCE. It’s tragic.
Have fun, drink wisely, but don’t waste a travel opportunity of a lifetime so high and wasted that you won’t remember any of it. Moreover, don’t do it at the expense of literally pissing all over a foreign culture just because your dollar is stronger. You’ll live to regret it.
You really DON’T want to travel, but you feel forced to because everyone says you should.
I remember telling my mom she should retire early so she could travel more. “We could go to India!”, I said. “You can finally see the world! Don’t you want to see the world? Downsize your home? Go to Asia?!”
She wasn’t impressed.
Turns out, she loves the home she built and looks forward to enjoying more time in it. Besides – she already has her favourite, go-to travel spots. She doesn’t need (nor does she want) to be a world traveller.
Sometimes, appreciating where you are can be as gratifying – if not more so – than jumping aboard a plane to Africa. Do what feels right for you.
You’re only going to please your partner.
A few years back, my former fiancé took it upon himself to plan our engagement trip to Europe. Having only visited Italy and France, he couldn’t wait for us to jump aboard a very expensive European cruise, only a year ahead of our even more expensive wedding. As a dutiful partner, I decided to go along with the plans – even though I could barely afford the trip.
When we initially split, he suggested we could still go as friends. Aside from the obvious reasons NOT to go on the trip – I also realized that with the money I no longer had to spend on a wedding, I was now free to travel wherever I truly wanted.
So I hooked up with my friend Tanya, and bought a ticket to California. England could wait.
You believe that every single person you will meet on the road is honest, good and trustworthy, a la Eat, Pray, Love.
There are tons of good people out there. Travelling through the world, I’ve met strangers in France who have lent me their apartment for three days; a wonderful woman in Guam and her equally wonderful friends who housed me, clothed me and fed me; and of course, the dozens of lifelong friends I made just by striking up a conversation on a plane, saying hello at a local restaurant or trading Facebook contact info with people I met on the road.
But life isn’t a movie. Though many people you meet will have good intentions – it’s important to know that there are a few who will not. If you choose not to believe this – than you will truly be at the mercy of blind luck.
Stalkers in Malaysia. Swindlers in Bali. Con artists in Vietnam. I met them all. And thankfully – due to vigilance, toughening up my personality, and unfortunate learning experiences – I survived.
The key to survival is awareness. Open your eyes. Do your research. If you know that ain’t you – spare your parents the worry, stress, or worst case – your tragic loss.
So. Still wanna take that trip?
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