What If Your Dream Isn’t Traveling?

Travel bloggers love to talk about travel. And, of course, why shouldn’t they? Their audience is wide: from fellow travelers to wannabes to those who live vicariously through them and their blogs, there are a lot of people who want to read them. While I love reading blogs about Spain, I’m not really into travel blogs as a whole. Why?

My dream isn’t traveling.

I know, you probably think I’m nuts or weird or an oddity. I like traveling, to be certain; I will forever cherish my memories of my trip to see my brother in California or my honeymoon to Italy, but I don’t dream of traveling like some do.

Not everyone shares the same dreams, I’ve come to realize. Not everyone wants to spend their 20s on a whirlwind round-the-world trip or living as an expat in Spain or Italy. Some do. And those people surround me! It’s a bit like being in the middle of a large crowd of people but still feeling utterly alone. I read some posts about prioritizing travel or doing it while you’re young or disparaging people who worry about their 401Ks while only twenty-four years old. Oh, and there’s this terrible photo that has made the rounds of ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA:

People Having Babies Travel

To be honest, sometimes I want the babies. (Shhh!) I really do. I want to see the world too, but I also want a house to decorate, a yard to mow, a garden to weed, a family to feed (well, I do have Mario to fatten up) … Does anyone else feel like this? Am I just getting old?

They say travel while you’re young. And I have. I haven’t done 30 countries before I’m 30 yet. (I suppose I still have time.) I haven’t seen Africa or Asia or South America. There’s time for that too—if I want. If I can.

They say anyone can do it—quit their job and travel the world. But I say that’s a privileged thing to say. Most of the people encouraging this sort of behavior are white and middle class with family and resources to fall back on. You don’t see underprivileged people making these claims, and the expat community is kind of short on people of color, if you haven’t noticed. (All this coming from, of course, a privileged white woman. Grain of salt.)

So, those of you caught up in the travel-blog world feeling like you’re all alone: You’re not. Me too.

14 thoughts on “What If Your Dream Isn’t Traveling?

  1. I feel similarly. It’s weird to when people (both in Spain and back in the States) refer to me as a “traveler.” I’m not a traveler, I live in Spain. I haven’t left Spain since I got to Madrid last September, and I haven’t left Madrid since Christmas. I would definitely like to travel more, but honestly because I just need a vacation and some distance from Madrid in general. Not because I’m trying to cross however many countries off of an arbitrary list of sorts. Living in Spain has been a goal of mine for years, but even so, I admit to friends back home that I can financially justify moving to Europe more than I could traveling here for a week or two.

    A while back, someone did a research project about the auxiliares experience and I was kind of surprised how many of us don’t have student loans. I say “kind of” because I imagine that many people who would consider doing something like this would also not have any serious financial concerns or responsibilities….not all of us, obviously, but a substantial amount. That also implies — albeit loosely — that they have a supportive, loving, relatively well-to-do family who encourages them to “follow their dreams” and all that jazz.

    A few years ago, someone wrote about being able to save $13,000 in 7 months so she could travel the world. I thought, “Well, if you’re able to save $13k in about half a year, that means that your salary, after taxes, is significantly above that. Even if you are indeed ~*cutting back*~ by going to Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods.” (That was one of her suggestions btw, I’m not being facetious.)

    Also, as far as POC are concerned, even among the Black American community here in Spain, I’m one of the very few I know of who is “regular” Black (not Caribbean or African, for example), but that’s a reply for another type of post ;-)

    1. Hey Reve! I think I know which blogger you are talking about – adventurous Kate. Right? I read that article too, and I think that many people want to be as clean cut and PG as possible. No one wants to write that they stopped shopping for clothes and ate ramen noodles 4x a week. Or that they moved out of their apartment and shared a couch with a hairy dog in their friends living room for months while saving up money. Peoples autobiographies are usually a far cry from their biographies. I try to keep my posts as true as possible. Move in with your parents. Thug it out. Sell your car. Eat pasta. Grow your own fruits and veggies. Get a second/third job. Make sure one of those jobs is a tipped position…etc.

      BTW have u checked out Travel Noire? There are a lot of black travelers (I’m one, in Spain as well :)

      Great to see your post!

  2. Even though I’m coming back to Spain this year for another round, it’s interesting how my goals have changed over the past few years. Last time, I was interested in taking advantage of every puente to travel to another country. This time, I’ve said more than once that I plan on spending more time in Spain, as I really want to focus on improving my spanish in order to *gasp* improve my skills for my career (I’m certified to teach Spanish grades 7-12). I still like to travel, but I’m so over checking countries off a list. Over hostels, living out of a backpack, and pub crawls.

    Many of my friends have moved out on their own and are settling into cute apartments and condos, and I do admit to feeling pangs of jealousy. Actually, one of my best friends is moving out and invited me to room with her before I told her about Spain, and I have to admit, I was extremely tempted. A part of me craves stability. I went to Homegoods the other day for a picture frame, and found myself wistfully longing over the CHINA, of all things. I want to nest, I want a place to call my own–I can’t buy china and cute bedspreads and curtains for my piso in Spain! It’s been difficult reconciling my occasional feelings of wanderlust–I do want to see the world, after all–with my urge to settle.

  3. Great post, Kaley. While traveling is still a “dream” of mine, I can feel that this stage of my life is coming to an end after this school year because, like you, I want to slow down, make lasting roots in a local community, and “nest” in a home. I’ve kind of sealed myself off from the dating world these past few years since I know anything would either be temporary or long-distance (although you made it work!). I’m looking forward to settling down somewhere in America even though it may not be as exotic as living in Spain and traveling every month.

    I’m really glad you pointed out that quitting your job to travel is a very privileged thing to say and insisting that “anybody can do it!!!” or even “everyone SHOULD do it!!!” is a pretty ignorant thing to say. Aaaaand now I need to get back to working on that blog post about privilege…someday!

  4. It all kind of hit me that my life was in for a big change when I bought a house. The house, the babies and all of that is the only thing I have wanted and keep wanting in my life! I love to travel, but I love to travel most in SPAIN. The only other country that I’ve wanted to go back to explore more since moving to Spain has been India, so imagine all of those other places in between that I liked, but didn’t feel exhilarated by. As my life moves forward and my goals change, I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to see a lot, but it’s not what I want to spend my life doing. I wrote about it in January after the NYE flight fiasco.

    Oh, and I shared that picture. No babies until after the wedding and a honeymoon to Japan! Yeah, I like traveling so much, I’d give up sitting on the beach to do something like that!

    1. Haha! Honeymoon to Japan? How fun! I didn’t hate that picture at first; it was just because so many people shared it that it got overshared!

  5. Thank you so much for this post! It makes so much sense and perfectly puts into words what I’ve been feeling over the past year or so. I spent two years in Jaén in the auxiliares program and by the second year I could feel a weird pull I wasn’t expecting to buy nice things for my apartment and have a rewarding full time job and invest in one place for awhile. I didn’t understand the feelings very well though since I still loved where I was as well as the occasional trips around Spain and abroad. I decided there’s a difference between a love of travel and a love of culture. Love of travel is a love of moving that causes people to get anxious when they’re in one place too long. Love of culture is what motivates us to get to those places, but also what makes us fall in love enough with a place to dream about staying there. And I think everyone previously categorized into the “traveler” category has a different mixture of the two, some more of one love than the other. Everyone has their preferences, even within the “travel people” group there are different styles. I like to call mine the traveling homebody, where home base is just as important, if not more important, to me as the trips that take me away. It’s too bad more of these viewpoints aren’t voiced within the travel blogging community, because none of us should get cynical or judgmental of the preferences of others. Way to get the word out there!

  6. YES. I so want the house and garden. I’m torn so much of the time knowing that I eventually will be settling down (and sooner rather than later) ..but not exactly sure where that will be. I want to settle in a place I really love! It can be alienating though, and hard to relate to other auxiliares.

  7. You’re not alone, Kaley! I am SO over moving all the time, I just want to settle down! I feel like there are so many things I’m missing out on because I have to keep changing places, and it’s really frustrating to me. I’d love to have a permanent job and old friends and be able to date. Traveling is fun, but I think there are very few people who can really make it a permanent part of their life, without needing something more stable, a home base, after a bit. I did do the 25 before 25 challenge, but honestly it was mostly just a way to get a small taste of places that I’d like to see more thoroughly later on…when I have that permanent job and home to come back to! And there’s nothing wrong with worrying about your 401k in your 20s….I feel really nervous and guilty a lot of the time that I haven’t done more worrying about it, that I’m not planning adequately for the future. I really hope to change that sometime in the next year or two.

    I really agree with you that saying “quit your job and travel the world” is an extremely privileged thing to say! People are telling me all the time how lucky I am to do what I’ve done, and I couldn’t agree more. So many people I know would love to do it, but just can’t because of other circumstances in their lives, or even just different priorities. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Wanting to have babies is OK!

  8. Great post, Kaley. I couldn’t agree more!

    I have recently stopped reading a number of blogs that have become too travel-y as I can no longer relate to them. Then I wondered if I was being overly judgemental. After all, as a relatively late starter to travel, I too went through a phase of rushing around “collecting countries”. But two years of that left me completely burned out, and when I moved to Madrid, I could barely bring myself to even take a day trip. For the next two years I didn’t travel at all. And I didn’t miss it one little bit.

    This year, I’ve started doing some travelling again, but mainly in Spain as I’m far more interested in getting to know my host country than in racking up new countries. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my trip to Belgium, or that there aren’t places outside Spain that I’d like to visit, because I did and there are, but for now I’m content finding out what Spain has to offer.

    Maybe one day I’ll hit the 30 countries tally (although my 30th birthday has long since gone), maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ve come to realise that people who treat travel as a numbers game are missing the point of travel entirely.

  9. I think it’s a bit confusing when I like travelling and I feel there are many places that I could still discover, but at the same time I feel the same as you about all those dreams of having a normal life with a pretty house, a dog and a bunch of kids. I still see myself young, I still want to find a GOOD JOB and be able to pay big, necessary things; so I don’t feel old enough for having kids. The problem is having kids… I love them, but I don’t think I’m ready to commit that much yet.

  10. I enjoyed the honesty of this post.

    The main reason I came to Australia because I thought it would be a good transition to settling down – I wasn’t quite ready to return to the U.S., but I’d spend a few months here working toward my career, get out my last travel urges, and then come home and be a “boring” adult. Instead, almost a year later, I’ve ended up sort of settling in Australia, and I suddenly realize how much wanderlust I still have left in me! It’s tough finding a happy medium between those two desires. When I’m traveling, I want to be settled. When I’m settled, I want to travel. I guess twenty-somethings are meant to be indecisive like this!

  11. I love to travel but I don’t relate to the Round the World traveling. I’ve fleetingly wondered about it now or again but I’m kind of lazy and it just seems like too much effort. Plus, I’m not someone who travels “where the wind takes me.” I like having security when I travel and living on the road just seems exhausting. I like stability, I like routine, and I like knowing where my food is in the grocery store (I know you can cook on the road but again there is no sense of permanency or stability). If NatGeo or the New York Times wants to hire me as a travel writer, I’m all for it and I’m not opposed to living abroad again. But you won’t find me gallivanting all over the world proclaiming that if I’m traveling, you can too and here’s how to do it in 10 easy steps.

    The truth is the overwhelming majority of people cannot afford to travel (no matter how many of you travel bloggers claim that the opposite is true but it is). Not everyone belongs to the white middle class.

  12. Oh no! Is 30 before you’re 30 a benchmark? I’m having a slow day and counted mine, and only got to 19 (and I thought I was quite well travelled!). I’m going to have to get those travelling boots on (and credit card out).

    I also have similar fears – I want EVERYTHING. Career, travels, family, a nice home with nice furniture…and I want it all NOW.

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