What happens when you don’t travel for a year.

The truth’s just waiting to catch you.

Brit McGinnis
Jun 27 · 5 min read
Image: Woman in a dress lying on a cracked earthen surface with hair draped over her face. Source: Pixabay.

This year, I’m looking for full-time work.

I detoxed from caffeine.

I owned up to being that weird healthy-healthy friend.

I wrote a gift guide.

But I’m most proud of not traveling at all this year.

Yes, I’ve hiked some with friends. But the farthest I’ve gone is just slightly up to the state above mine. Even then, I live at the tippy-top of Oregon. It doesn’t count.

I’ve made this promise before: No travelling for a year.

But, like a whore, I broke it for my career.

Conferences are nothing to sneeze at. Especially when you’re working at them, which I am prone to do.

But when you tell people you’re not travelling, and then you find yourself on a plane to Florida to cover something… it does a number on your soul.

So 2019 became the year of no travel. As in no travel at all.

Day trips and probably only small jaunts for me. No airplanes, ships, or trains. No car rides over 1 day.

I’m halfway through. Changes are already happening.

Sources of your discomfort will make themselves known.

When we’re always in motion as people, every so often we’ll become vaguely pissed off and don’t understand why.

So we blame. Our friends, our partner, our jobs… anything that feels close at hand.

Not that being in motion constantly is a bad thing. Not at all.

We have to move and progress as humans to live. Sorry, but I’m not in the “ambition isn’t everything” crowd. Moving forward feels nice. Whether it’s painting your house, getting a promotion or changing one less diaper a day, progress feels great.

But if we’re too preoccupied with the motion itself, we lose our abilities to properly attribute the sources of our stress. That gets dangerous.

I didn’t hate my body when I looked in the mirror. I hated everything I was putting into it and felt weak for not being able to cope with those substances.

I wasn’t unambitious. My field wasn’t right for me and I needed to change.

I wasn’t settling in terms of where I lived. My priorities had changed and my former dream city no longer satisfied them.

I wasn’t a bad friend. I was investing too much time into relationships with people that didn’t care.

None of these revelations would have come to me if I’d kept traveling continuously. I wasn’t running away from my problems. The truth just needs time to catch up sometimes.

You’ll wonder how people survive without routines.

For the first time in years, I have an established bedtime.

That’s huge for me, especially as someone who’s worked from home for years. The work’s always more important than your schedule. It always has been.

But when you’re not living trip to trip, your daily life will suddenly become more important to you.

Your daily sanity will become all that matters to you.

Here’s why: You’re not in coping mode anymore when you’re home. You’re living with everything and everyone you’ve chosen.

This means that being loosey-goosey with your time will steadily fuck you over.

You might stop answering texts after a certain time. Maybe certain days of the week will become no-socialization days.

However it manifests, your time will matter more and more to you the less you travel.

You may even end up like one of those weirdos who goes to bed at the same time every night.

Travel as status will stick out to you.

I’ve not yet been rich enough in my life to just take off to Bali for three weeks.

But I know plenty of people who have that kind of money, and it now blows my mind just how blessed they are to do so.

I’m not a hater! But between my hardworking friends and social media, it’s become even more clear that travel is the new status symbol.

My generation may not afford houses as a rule. Cars are a necessity but car ownership is not. Being debt-free isn’t an ostentatious achievement.

But going to Iceland or Kenya? That you can show off (consciously or not).

At the end of this year, I’m convinced that I may never show off pictures of my travel in great measure again. It feels odd to talk about how I can do something enriching that not everyone can afford.

If we truly believe that travel enriches people and helps them learn beyond themselves, then why is it something we brag about?

Why wouldn’t we keep such a wonderful, personal experience to ourselves?

It’s all a strange business. Or at least it seems that way to me now.

You’ll take delight in stupid stuff.

You know what’s revving my engine a lot these days?

Feeding crows.

I feed crows in my neighborhood, sometimes (okay once) ending in gifts from the crows but more often resulting in amusing turf wars over New Seasons noodles.

But I like it. It makes me almost feel like I have pets. I feel like I have more homies in my neighborhood, even if they’re avian.

It’s such a small thing, feeding crows. But like decorating an altar for every season or baking cookies, it gives me joy.

When I was traveling more regularly, small pleasures seemed ultimately meaningless. I didn’t understand how people could amuse themselves with hobbies when there was a whole world out there to explore.

But now I get it. If you want a life of discipline, you have to distract yourself from every Shiny New Activity that comes your way. You have to have something that provides immediate gratification but doesn’t blow up your life.

Not seeking the Thing I Know Would Make Me Happy forced me to come up with other, smaller things to achieve the same end.

Now I know how people end up with rooms of macrame and $40K in the bank.

Travel will seem even more exciting.

When people ask me where I plan to go when my travel fast is over, my first answer is my grandma’s house.

It’s been too long since I’ve seen her. Both she and my grandfather are in their early 80s and I don’t know how many more chances I’ll have.

Next is New York City. I’ve been a few times, and I want to take my boyfriend so I can steadily brainwash him into loving it too.

More than money or actual traveling, I’m thinking about what it will be like to be in those places more than ever. My grandmother’s pool. A tiny corner I love on the Lower East Side. The desert out the window of an Amtrak train. The clean sidewalks in Manhattan.

Travel’s become so accessible now that we’ve forgotten its true worth. Attractions are great. Cataloguing your trip on social media is fun.

But the whole point is that you’re somewhere else. Finding out what’s constant inside of you, regardless of where you are.

Taking a break from travel means I had to get real about who I really am. It’s been grueling and hard.

But I’m excited to see how it all works out. Standing still can feel complacent—but seeing what drifts to the bottom is rewarding.

Brit McGinnis

Written by

Copywriter and CEO of Black Bow Communications. Author of several books. Host of the You’re Not Helping podcast. Tips and leads: @BritMcGinnis

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