Everyone Says I Must Be Running Away
My dad likes to ask what I’m running away from with my travels. My mother wants to know when I will “settle down” and get a real life. Someone once commented on my blog and told me to stop running away and live life. There is even a blog called “Mom says I’m running away.”
I’m not sure why, but there is this perception out there that anyone who travels long term and isn’t interested in settling down or getting a conventional job must be running away from something.
They are just trying to “escape life.”
The general opinion is that traveling is something everyone should do — that gap years after college and short vacations are acceptable. But for those of us who lead nomadic lifestyles, or who linger just a bit too long somewhere before reaching that final homestretch, we are accused of running away.
Yes, travel — but just not for too long.
We nomads must have awful, miserable lives, or are weird, or have had something traumatic happen to us that we are trying to escape. People assume that we are simply running away from our problems, running away from “the real world.”
And to all those people who say that, I say to you — you’re right.
I am running away.
I am trying to avoid life — your life.
I’m running away from your idea of the “real” world.
Because, in reality, I’m running towards everything — towards the world, exotic places, new people, different cultures, and my own idea of freedom and living.
While there may be exceptions (as there are with everything), most people who become vagabonds, nomads, and wanderers do so because they want to experience the world, not escape some problem.
We are running away from office life, commuting, and weekend errands, and running towards everything the world has to offer. We are running away from monotony, 9-to-5, consumerism, and the conventional path.
Life is short, and we only get to live it once. I want to look back and say I did crazy things, not say I spent my life in an office, reading travel blogs,and wishing I was doing the same thing.
As an American, my perspective might be different from the rest of yours. In America, you go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, and have your 2.5 children. Society boxes you in and restricts your movements to their expectations. It’s like the matrix. And any deviation is considered abnormal and weird.
There’s nothing wrong with having a family or owning a house — most of my friends lead happy lives doing so. However, the general attitude in the US is “do it this way if you want to be normal.”
And, well, I don’t want to be normal.
I think the reason why people tell us travelers we’re running away is because they can’t fathom the fact that we broke the mold and are living outside the norm. To want to break all of society’s conventions, there simply must be something wrong with us. What other explanation could there be!
Years ago, at the height of the economic boom, a book called The Secret came out. According to The Secret, if you just wish for and want something bad enough, you’ll get it.
But the real secret to life is that you get what you want when you do what you want.
Life is what you make it out to be.
Life is yours to create.
We are all chained down by the burdens we place upon ourselves, whether they are bills, errands, or, like me, self-imposed blogging deadlines. If you really want something, you have to go after it.
People who travel the world aren’t running away from life. Just the opposite. Those that break the mold, explore the world, and live on their own terms are running towards living. We are running towards our idea of life. We get to be the captains of our ships. We looked around at the norm and said, “I want something different.” It was that freedom and attitude I saw in travelers years ago that inspired me to do what I am doing now. I saw them break the mold and I thought to myself, ”Why not me too?”
I am not running away.
I am running towards the world.
And I never plan on looking back.
Matthew Kepnes runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt. He got the travel bug after a trip to Costa Rica in 2004, and decided to quit his job, finish his MBA and travel the world. He is also the author of the book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, and his advice has appeared on such sites as Lifehacker, The Four Hour Workweek, CNN, BBC,The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.