Do We Travel to Escape Reality?

Do we travel to escape reality? My grandmother has a very specific view of people who travel a lot, especially older people. She can’t understand how they can’t just be happy with staying at home, why their souls are so restless and unhappy with their current situation.

I hear and read this a lot: If you travel all the time, you’re running away from something. Do you think that is true? Are we running away from something? If so, then what are we running from?

Do We Travel to Escape Reality

I believe that nearly all of us are running, but for two different reasons:

  • Some have restless souls trying to find happiness in external things like adventure and experiences. In other words, they’re trying to escape from who they are right now – hoping to change.
  • Some are dreamers running away from society hoping to find an escape somewhere else or to find an answer telling them that life doesn’t have to be the way people force it to be.

Running Away From Yourself

Do We Travel To Escape Reality
Do We Travel To Escape Reality

I both know and have met people in this situation:

They are sick of traveling, tired of always being on the road, talking nothing but negative about travels but they still have that nervous restless look in their eyes, which makes them continue.

Some left home because they hated their life there, hoping it would be better somewhere else, only to find they brought their problems with them.

The only problem is that they don’t realize it, but continue to the next destination thinking and hoping that it will be better there, and then the next, and the next….

Instead of dealing with their problems – they try to find a way to escape them, which is impossible. When traveling it is easier to block out your personal problems because of all the new, exciting, external things going on, but you will never escape them.

Running Away From Reality

Be brave while traveling
Be brave while traveling

If we’re running away from (leaving) a current reality or situation, and I believe this is true for many of us, then I can’t see why that would be such a bad thing?

  • Why should we accept life the way it is?
  • Why can’t we look for something better?
  • Traveling brings so many new perspectives. Can’t we widen our perspectives?

I say we can, and we should! We don’t have to follow the rules of society like a bunch of numb robots, doing everything society tells us to do even though we haven’t seen much good coming out of it. In fact, I think this is an awesome reason to travel.

Running away in this aspect, searching for something else in life is necessary for you to evolve, to develop and not get stuck in a current situation. In a way I believe that you have to be looking for something to find something – although not necessarily knowing what you look for.

What do you think about all this? Why do you travel? Are you trying to escape from reality?

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Why Travel Today Is Better Than Ever Before

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by people complaining about how everything was so much better back in the good ol’ days? I can’t count on my fingers how many times this has happened while traveling.

I’m tired of hearing from old travelers about how traveling was so much better back when they were young. For some reason, people often seem to forget the not so good things and remember everything as if it was a perfect paradise.

To be honest, I don’t believe that everything about traveling is better today, but there are definitely many things today which are a lot better than the good ol’ days – so today let’s focus on the good stuff!

Travel To Escape Reality is Cheaper

Long gone are the days of travel agents. You can search online through many travel sites, such as Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, Costco travel, etc., just to name a few. You can get the best price that fits your budget without relying on a travel agent to give you whatever information they give you.

You can find flights by going to any airline’s website and book directly with them. Or you can go through Google flights to check rates and best days and even set Google alerts. You can find cheap flights at unappealing and unpopular times in many places. 

Once I was able to get flight tickets for 30 dollars. Another time we got 100 EURO 12hr flight from Malaysia to Europe.

This is an amazing thing, and it means that today it’s not only the rich people who can afford to travel around the world – now nearly everyone can.

Not only are budget airlines offering cheap fares, but the higher valued airlines as well. There are more companies and the competition is higher, which often results in a price war where the ticket fares go really cheap – get online and there are so many ways to find the cheap deals.

Years ago, backpacking around Europe was mainly done with a EUrail pass, today there are many alternatives, making it easier to find the cheapest and most suitable option for you.

It’s Easy, Faster and More Freedom

In 1994, it took 42 hours for us to get to Bali and 7 stopovers. Today it takes less than half that time, with only one stopover. Traveling long distances is so much easier today, and the good deals to get there are right around the corner.

One big breakthrough over the last few years is the growth of people who can work wherever they want, who don’t have to go to an office and work the 9/5 job – resulting in the ability to be location free.

Not long ago this was unthinkable, but today it’s a very common reality. Also these days it’s SO much easier to be prepared and organized – everything is at the push of a button: Book your flight, find the best place to stay, know where you always are, etc.

Do you think that takes away the excitement and adventure of travel? What is best about this I think is that it gives us CHOICE – sometimes we all need that break from complicity, stress and uncertainty. Then it’s nice to be able to get that so easy when you’re still abroad.

Travel to Escape Reality is More Accepted

More and more people are accepting the traveling lifestyle. There are people who intentionally travel alone as well.

It really is going in the right direction, but still there are many people are still stuck in the old mindset of how you only allowed one gap year to travel and then you must come home and get a ‘real’ job and a ‘real’ life.

Today we’re much more open to open-ended traveling, freedom long-term travel, solo travel, and you can even find more parents are taking their kids out of school to go traveling – which I think is a great idea!

What do YOU think is better about traveling today?

Iceland’s Golden Circle past waterfalls

When Travel Becomes About More – Travel To Escape Reality

Every year millions of people pack their bags and head towards wherever the sun is shining – Swedish people are among the most devoted sun worshipers of all.

Because the sun doesn’t shine very often in Sweden, people here want to make the most of it when they have the chance, and often that means leaving Sweden to find the sun somewhere else.

Many people travel abroad for 4 simple reasons; To swim in warm water, relax, party and then arrive back home with a great tan…and to Travel To Escape Reality.

But often people reach a point where the purpose for traveling changes – often that happens when we finally open our eyes and really see the country we are visiting.

We’re introduced to new fascinating cultures, traditions, new food and smells around us, and once we’ve had a taste of this kind of travel, chasing the sun & partying becomes far less important.

For one of my closest friends Sanna, the spark for travel and getting to know other cultures came when she decided to travel to Africa and volunteer for a year.

It’s a pretty big step for someone who has never really traveled before, but volunteering in Africa changed her life. She was away for a year in Rwanda, experiencing some incredible culture clashes and situations.

When I met her again after she had returned, something in her had changed. She had a different understanding of people and valued different things. It was a very obvious change for everyone around her. Some things which used to take up a lot of time, like shopping, wasn’t something she valued at all anymore.

When she had lived with people who were amazed that she had her very own refrigerator in the kitchen, she found a whole new perspective on material things, and how little of it you actually need.

By leaving the certainty of home, volunteering abroad and travel to a country to embrace everything with open arms, she found her purpose.

She wanted to help people in some way, make their future brighter, and help them grow. Today, a year later, she’s studying to become a teacher.

Some of us don’t find our purpose the first time we travel, but I believe that by traveling and being open to learn from these new cultures, you’re one step closer.

Especially when you consider reasons to travel alone. Some people say that you can never return from traveling as the same person you were before you left. I say it depends on how you travel, and what you learn on the way. Some people never change, they also never learn. 

Making Friends Abroad

The hardest step is making the risky move of trying out another country. I’ll assume you’ve already done that, why else would you be reading this? The good news is that it only gets easier from here.

If you are interesting in making friends abroad, because you want to have a more local experience and fun, or if you connect with some people you meet, or maybe you are studying in the country or visiting for an extended time. 

It’s time to put your social anxiety aside and start making friends. The thought might be exciting for some but frightening for others. Hopefully though, you’re old enough to not overthink social interactions like you did back in your high school days.

So whether this is a study abroad programme or you’re just moving countries, here are a few tips that will help you make friends abroad.

Rule #1 – Just talk!

Try to learn a bit of the language before your trip. You will get better as you are in the country and actually need to speak it.

Overall, your conversation skills improve with age and confidence. Depending on how old you are, striking up a random conversation may be easy for you. This may be tougher if you’ve hung out with the same friends your life, though. But it’s really easier than most think. What do you have to lose?

You’re a foreigner in a new country; there’s a good chance that the stranger is as interested as you are. Whether you’re trying to pick up a girl, make a friend, or just get comfortable with locals, the easiest start is your name.

Yes, it’s as simple as “Hi, my name’s ____”. The conversation should flow from there. From my experience, they’ll ask you where you’re from because of your accent.

Hostels and dorms

This should be in the bag for you study abroad folk. People in dorms and hostels are in the exact same situation as you. They may be travelling solo or on a study course from another country. The younger crowd is usually more friendly and open to conversation, too, so just go for it!

Making Friends While Traveling
Making Friends While Traveling

If you’re on a holiday, then staying in hostels is a full-proof method. When I went to Toscana last year with a couple friends, we were on a tight budget and decided to stay in a hostel. We immediately made friends with a young couple visiting from Germany right next to us and practically spent the whole trip with them.

Remember: they are as open to friendships as you are. Keep your safety in mind and go with your gut.

Social networking – Facebook, Twitter, and Meetups

There are groups dedicated to expat and travelers just like you. Twitter and Facebook communities have sprung up to make the change easier for foreigners delving into an unrecognized country.

There’s nothing wrong with building online friendships to get a head start. You may also get early opinions about what you’re getting yourself into! Start following people on Twitter and be open and friendly. A lot of people stay away from claiming that it isn’t natural to meet people online.

But in today’s day everyone spends a lot of time on their handhelds and computers. Besides the generic ‘expat’ or ‘new in town’ Meetups, you could find one about hobbies. Reading, working out, movies are all common hobbies amongst people, no matter where you’re from. Ask people with similar interests to join you for a drink on Saturday night. If it’s a local, ask them to show you around.

Just like with everything, always use common sense and trust your instinct. Safety is the #1 priority.

Don’t let your work control you

Take a break every now and then. If you’re being sent abroad from a company, make use of the weekends and days off. Get to know your co-workers and go out for drinks after work.

The worst thing you can do is keep your work and personal lives separate. There just aren’t enough hours in a day for everything. Make friends from day one. Talk to clients and get to know them. You may even get bonus assignments that will help your work.

It’s a win-win situation, really. When the working day is over, don’t run back to your hostel or hotel. Try a new restaurant.

Travel to Escape Reality

Presentations and work-related events aren’t as bad as they sound. You get to meet people from the industry just like yourself. So as you see, making friends abroad isn’t rocket science.

It will start to flow naturally after a few conversations. Reading this should just be a guide. The worst thing you can do is overthink the situation.

Rule #1 should be all that you need—just talk!

(Travel To Escape Reality photo credits: vincepalstevendepoloaarmono)

37 thoughts on “Do We Travel to Escape Reality?”

  1. As another reader said on Facebook, “I travel to create a new reality.” And to repeat what I said on Ye Olde Book o’ Face: “There is not just one reality. There are as many, or more, as there are people.”

    If you don’t deal with the things that got you into a troublesome situation in the past, yes, you run the risk of hauling the baggage with you. But that’s not really running “away,” is it? It’s just moving.

    I totally agree with you that we can — and should — seek better things, constantly. Appreciate the good you have, enjoy it in the moment, and build on it. Use it as a springboard to seek even more joy. We are meant to be happy! :D

  2. Right before I saw this comment, I was going to write the same exact thing.

    I’ve escaped reality to create a new reality.

    I think we’ve ALL escaped from something before we started traveling. The main thing is knowing travel isn’t the instant cure for solving personal issues but we can’t deny the fact that it can help. For me, travel has calmed me down a lot. I use to be much more of a nervous person but somehow traveling has kept me more relaxed and seeing things differently.

    Good topic!

  3. Hey, what a wonderfully refreshing post! Most articles on this subject are quite defensive whereas yours is open minded. I’m leaving next year and I have no problem at all to admit that I feel like I’m pressing a ‘reset button.’

    I’m not happy with my life but I’m sure as hell doing something about it and I can’t see me being negative on the road. Cheers for this post :)

  4. I say what the hell is wrong is you ARE running away from something? Good for you for running not walking! If you aren’t happy staying put in 1 place then why should you stay in 1 place?

  5. Sure I think a lot of people do travel to escape but the reality is that anything you are running from always catches up with you.

  6. Running away from something is not bad especially when you want to make the most out of your life. I can relate to the other comments in here since I also escaped my “reality” in order to follow what my heart desires. Why stay in a place where you are unhappy if you can go and fulfill your dreams.

  7. I really don’t like my jobs (yes, plural, am poor need money) and the place I live. I’d run, not walk, from this place if I ever got the chance and never come back. So, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it in 2011. It’s my resolution of sorts. I’m moving to Korea to teach English in August if all goes according to plan.

  8. Thanks Anthony! A reset button should be something to be proud of! I believe that if you’re not happy with your life, the worst thing you can do is to continue without changing it.

  9. I think I’m only partially escaping from (one) reality when I travel and simply moving into another one that’s a bit more exciting. And then when I return to the original one, I appreciate it more because I’m happier.

  10. I love this topic so much, it’s more or less the theme of my memoir, in which the subtitle refers to “The Power of Running Away.” I’m type #2, although if I tweaked it just slightly to fit my personality, I would call it “Running Away from Conformist Notions of Reality.” I hope to keep doing that until I’m 100.

  11. One of my first big travel trips was because I was trying to run away from something at home, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and one of the best trips I ever took and has literally changed my life and put me on a totally different path in life that I never thought possible before.
    Now I travel, sometimes to escape reality but as cliche as it sounds, I travel because I want to make travel my reality and then essentially I won’t be running from anything anymore I’ll just be running to it :)

  12. I agreed with Ayngelina that reality will still catch up to you. Traveling is always good but running away is not always the best way to escape from everything. I mean even I try to run away from stuff too, but it does catch up.

  13. Travel helps one acknowledge that reality is a flexible, rather than static concept. Instead of getting caught up in the pitfalls of home, the fleeting nature of travel experiences helps one truly get to know the present moment. One begins to realize that it’s not necessary to run in the first place. What’s important is to live in the here and now. From Lachy

  14. What I don’t get is the older generation’s thought for “staying put”? It gets sooo boring and I don’t understand how people who don’t travel or move around much find any “inspiration”.

    I hope even when I’m over 60+ years (thank goodness that’ll be decades up decades into the future), that I still travel around the world, just like my grandpa did (his travels to over 100+ countries inspired me to do a lot of my own traveling).

    And what would I be running away from? Monotony. I hate it :)

  15. I love this conversation!Traveling to get away from your problems can work out, as long as that problem or thing isn’t yourself. As my wise and funny friend says, “No matter where you go, there you are.” =)

  16. whenever I’ve been travelling for any length of time, that becomes my reality. Makes me realise (and appreciate) the ephemeral nature of time and life…and the stuff that most of us spend lots of time and energy on is not always the reality that we dream of for ourselves. So the 9-5 isn’t reality, and those few weeks a year when you have control of your destiny is. Or maybe not…

  17. I agree, I think sometimes people think that they can run away but they must soon find out that your problems just follow you. That said, if you aren’t happy then by all means do what it takes to find happiness, just know that life still won’t be perfect. Maybe a new place will put a different perspective on problems though and give you a new and improved view on life and way to deal with things.

    I travel because I’m restless and I always want to see something new and completely different. But I’ll admit that it’s easy to think everything will fade away when you move to a new place, but that’s generally not the case.

  18. I travel to run towards a wider understanding of reality. I am not running away, I am RUNNING TOWARDS. Towards a more holistic perspective. Towards challenge. Towards discovery and truth and purpose.
    The reality of home, of “ordinary life” is a fallacy, it is all reality. This and so much more! So you can’t escape reality, you create it, you revel in it. You can run your whole life and never reach the edge of reality, you will stay firmly in the center.
    Now whether your reality is one you are proud of, are comfortable with. That is another blog post altogether!

  19. Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations for any purpose and any duration, with or without any means of transport. Travel also includes relatively short stays between successive movements

  20. I learned on my first trip overseas that you can’t run away from your problems – they’ll be landing at your destination shortly after you do. Still, distancing yourself from people and situations by traveling does put up a pretty nice buffer. Sometimes. It is not a cure-all, at all.

  21. Going away when I was desperate to leave wasn’t a solution for me – I waited until it was a time I was strong enough to accept all the changes and growth I knew I would face. Running away is not an option, but I think for those of us with the bug, it’s running towards – we’re running towards something amazing that we know is out there.
    Incidentally, my Grandma is exactly the same. Before I went rtw this year, she reminded me that “these are all things that you can see on the television.”
    – Rish, OTP

  22. so true – i first left New Zealand 4 years ago to get away from my problems – but once in Europe, realized the problem was me :p and had to deal with them anyways. love that qoute: “No matter where you go, there you are.” :)

  23. I also learnt this on my first trip – you can run away from what is going on inside your mind – yeah by travel you can block it out for a while, but you will have to deal with yourself sooner or later.

  24. great reply Michael, many ppl think that by traveling, everything will get better, and for a while that might be the case but sooner or later you will need to look inside and create a consistent reality within you which works no matter where in the world you are.

  25. If u run from problems, there will always be the same problems somewhere inside u even during traveling, but travel can bring u different way to look at the world, and find a solution for the problems this way …

  26. I’m very curious about different cultures, this is my main reason for traveling. Does this mean I’m running away from something? Admittedly, I’m truly enjoying the process so my initial love for traveling has developed into proper nomadic life. I wouldn’t say that who travels a lot escapes from reality, as anywhere we go, we find reality. Probably we are more demanding so we need more time in order to find what we are looking for, but as you say, what’s wrong in keeping looking? ;)

  27. I don’t know about escaping reality, but consumerism has a role to play here as well. We are sold dreams that the marketing departments of many companies tell us are the antidote for a boring stay at home life. This is now reinforced by all forms of media including social networks.
    The way we travel defines us; luxury -I am a very important person; adventure travel – I’m fearless, cool and awesome; eco-travel – I am a responsible human etc.
    “I travel, therefore I am”.

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