Let’s remove the stigma of travel being selfish

It is selfish to want to travel as an adult?

Lately I have read a few different stories/articles/posts on the interwebs that basically state travelling as an adult is a selfish thing to do. Most of these are from actual travellers calling themselves selfish for travelling the world instead of building their careers, having a family, or “adulting”.

As in, we should be earning our degrees, getting married, having kids, and owning a house rather than travelling; and that it’s okay to feel guilty for not doing these things and choosing to travel instead.

This makes me so sad!

And I think it’s high time we change our thinking on the topic and remove this stigma that travel is selfish.

I have absolutely nothing against the travellers who have expressed themselves, and their travel choices, in this light at all. I’m sure they don’t want to feel guilty for choosing to travel; but society seems to dictate how we live, or what we “should” be doing at any given age or stage of life, which definitely impacts on our thinking and our decisions.

So let’s break this down a little, shall we?

Selfish Travel

Who even is society, and why do they get to make up the rules?

Society is pretty much just a bunch of people we don’t know. Strangers. Who have decided that life “should” be lived in a certain way.

These rules or expectations get passed down through the generations, without question, and the ideas become common ground.

Society makes us feel selfish for choosing to ‘step away’ from our lives by travelling instead of building a solid career, or settling down with marriage, babies, and a house.

But, society doesn’t take into account an individual’s priorities, choices, or dreams; rather, it places unwritten and largely unspoken expectations on all humans about what we’re meant to do with our lives.

You see it by the confused look you get when you mention you’d rather spend your money on a holiday than a wedding. You hear it when someone tells you your biological clock is ticking.

The problem is, most of these rules and expectations are so outdated. They are based on a time when men worked and bought in the money, and women stayed home to cook, clean, and care for the children. People went straight from school to full-time jobs, got married young, had children young, and travel was a luxury many couldn’t afford.

Travelling has changed. We now have access to so much of the world, and our modes of transportation are within reach and varied.

Times have changed, and continue to change. We don’t have to get married and settle down in our early twenties (unless we want to). We can take our time. We can put ourselves first.

And that is not a selfish thing to do, in the slightest.

Selfish Travel

You have the power to make your life your own

Think about it: the only person you will spend your entire life with, is yourself.

Powerful, right?

Really, the only person you need to please is yourself. If you are living a life that makes you happy, then you’re halfway there.

Only you know what you want to get out of life. And only you are the one who can make that happen. So don’t worry about what anyone else expects you do to, because they’re not the one living your life. You are.

I know that travelling makes me happy. And if you’re reading this, I think it’s safe to say that travel makes you happy too.

And when we’re happy, we have the power to make other people happy.

What’s selfish about that?

We are all unique human beings, who are all drawn to different people, things, and experiences during our lifetime. It is up to us as individuals to decide what makes us happy, and what we want from our lives. Then, it is our job to make those things front and centre, and start working towards them.

That’s it. That is all that is expected from us.

Selfish Travel

People travel for different reasons

There are a multitude of reasons why people decide to travel.

For some of us, it’s to take a break after a year of hard work. Some travel to find themselves. Others travel in order to help those less fortunate.

Some of us travel to see friends and family. Others take a huge trip before settling down to family life. Some travel to experience a gap year after school, to work in a different country, or to meet new people. And some people don’t travel at all until their children have left the nest.

Whatever the reason, whatever your life stage, wherever you’re going, it’s your choice.

Let’s push selfish to the side, and celebrate all life choices

As human beings with feelings, thoughts, and emotions, we are compelled to share our milestones, and congratulate each other on a job well done.

But how many times have you seen friends and family members being congratulated for finishing a degree, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, or having a baby?

Tonnes, right?

And that is great. Those are huge milestones in our lifetime. And I am right there, with everyone else, willing to offer my support to anyone who decides to make that their priority in life.

But, what about a congratulations to the kick-ass solo female travellers out there? The successful bloggers who have been able to make travel their full-time job? The people who go to the cities and countries you might be too afraid to visit, and then totally change your mind about them?

What about, a hearty congratulations for a recent promotion at work? A high five for paying your bills on time? Nice job on not spoiling the ending of Orange is the New Black? (I still haven’t seen it yet).

There are so many great things we can do with our lives. It’s what makes us human, unique, special.

Selfish Travel

Let’s stop feeling bad or guilty about our life choices, and start celebrating those little moments and big events that make life worthwhile, no matter what shape or form they come in.

It’s not selfish to travel. And it’s not selfish to spend your money on yourself.

In fact, I think it’s selfish for the same expectations to be placed on us all, without ever asking what we want from our lives.

So next time a friend or family member starts planning an overseas adventure, celebrate their hard work in making it happen. Ask questions about where they’re going and why they’ve chosen those destinations. Make them feel good about deciding to spend their money on experiences they are excited about.

Next time you’re planning an overseas adventure, give yourself a pat on the back for making it happen. Share your experiences with friends and family. Ignore any withering looks or murmurs about wasted time and money. Be proud to create a life that you are happy to live.

Life is too short to feel guilty or selfish based on the opinions of others.

Over to You:

Do you ever feel guilty or selfish for a life decision you’ve made?
How do societal expectations affect what you do with your life?
What do you do to make travel top priority?

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Let’s remove the stigma of travel being selfish

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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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