What is the ‘real’ world? Is traveling the ‘real’ world? This is something I think about often. I have read and heard many people say that we can’t compare our life when we are traveling to our life when we are not because traveling isn’t real life. When we think about the real world what do we first think of? 9-5 jobs? Peak hour traffic? Deadlines? Bills? Mortgages? House work? Who decided that this has to be the stereotype of the real world? Not me that’s for sure!
What is it that doesn’t make traveling the real world? Fun? Excitement? New experiences? Exotic locations? Cocktails on the beach? Why can’t we have these things in the stereotypical version of the ‘real world’ too? Traveling is not all rainbows and unicorns unfortunately, especially for those of us who have travelled long term (please don’t think I’m talking about a two week vacation in Bali as ‘real life’). Sure, you don’t have the same stressors and responsibilities I mentioned in the first paragraph but you will have your fair share of stressful situations, mishaps and things not going to plan. These things seem all the more overwhelming when you are far from home in a foreign place.
I think the biggest reason we don’t think of travel as a real, sustainable way of living life is because we don’t often hear about the bad parts. Why would I post on social media that my bank account cancelled my card again for the third time and I’m stressing about trying to make an overseas call and the fact that I cant access my money? Or the times I had severe food poisoning. The times I got so sick of being motion sick on anything that moved that I just wanted to call it quits and go home. Or the time our budget was so tight we had to keep eating in the same restaurant that was dirty and smelled like cats because it was the only thing we could afford in an expensive town. The time, effort, budgeting , adapting and planning that goes into executing long term travel is never talked about, only the best bits of the finished product. We only post the good things on social media and that is a well known fact. I believe this is what contributes to the misconception that traveling is a breeze and not real life.
People also can assume that travellers are running from something in the ‘real world’. This can sometimes be true, but for me, I’m running towards life with an open heart and an open mind ready to take on the world. I don’t think there is anything more real than immersing yourself in different cultures, experiencing poverty and despair with your own eyes in less fortunate countries, learning about new religions and customs, eating new foods, learning new languages, making a stranger smile and meeting people from all walks of life.
After almost 5 years of living abroad and backpacking I have found myself back in the country I was born in, in a new city, slowly getting into a routine and slipping into the stereotypical thing we call the ‘real’ world. A job Monday to Friday, bill’s to pay, groceries to be done and dinner to be cooked. Does this mean my life is now boring and my wild, carefree traveller spirit has been dulled? Definitely not. I believe that traveling brings out the best in us and allows us to grow and become the best version of ourselves simply because we are doing things with an open mind. What’s stopping us from implementing this in our everyday lives?
At the end of the day, travel is ‘real life’, working and paying bills is ‘real life’. Happiness, sadness, stress, joy and leisure are all apart of ‘real life’. Some people love adventure and the unknown and some people love comfort and routine. Happiness goes where happiness is and only we are in charge of our own happiness. We all have different goals and visions of success and as long as we are achieving these and are happy and fulfilled, does it really matter which version of the ‘real world’ we are living in?