An Interesting Question

As Melissa prepares for a special trip with her daughter, a question was asked in a Facebook group we belong to that I found quite interesting:

“Did you find you were happy with your life/job/home when you decided to travel or unhappy? In other words–were you making a major change because something was missing and you felt the travel lifestyle would be a better life for your family?”

I actually remember this as being one of my concerns when first considering this crazy decision. One day a coworker and I were attending a conference. As we sat outside on the grass eating our lunch while enjoying a gorgeous Colorado fall day, we discussed travel wishes. I expressed my desire to travel the world with my son and raise him in other countries, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just really running away from things. This, of course, came after the major events that had transpired that same year. It was no wonder if I did want to run away, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to uproot my child and begin a nomadic lifestyle just because 2010 had been a year full of crap for me. Being the wonderfully insightful woman she is, she told me she didn’t get that sense, and I appreciated that because in my mind I was working out the possibility.

Approximately two weeks later I would be making the announcement to friends and family that we were about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime: In October 2011 I would be quitting my job and leaving the States with my son as we began a new life of indefinite travel. Of course in a very short time that date would be moved up to May, and I was tempted to make it sooner, but I did need some money in the bank after all.

Was I happy with my life? I had definitely been put through the wringer, and rough waters were still ahead, but I had to say I was generally happy with my life. I had a job I truly enjoyed and was passionate about, worked for a company and a team that had true heart and had been there for me in my many dark hours. We had a comfortable home. I had been able to travel (in fact I went to Peru earlier that year) as well as enjoy trips in the States with my son. Yes, I was pretty happy with my life and felt blessed. Was I completely satisfied? No. I wanted more from life, besides less pain, trials, and tribulations. I don’t feel we were escaping our lives by leaving on this amazing journey. Instead, I was creating the life I wanted for me and my child rather than just sitting back and letting life happen to me.

I wanted more for my son as well. In the previous year I had went to the Philippines with Uplift Internationale to help children with cleft lips and palate. While there I was truly inspired by the Filipino people. They were the most joyous people I had ever met. When they smiled glee bubbled up from deep within their soul and came out in their smiles. Most of the people were quite poor by Western standards, but as I got to know them I saw that rather than spend their time pursuing more money, buying another vehicle, a larger house, paying for a boat, etc., they were working enough to meet their needs, to feed their family, and they were spending way more time together as a family than people back in my home. The focus was on family and community rather than things. I desperately wanted that for my children. I wanted them to grow up feeling a greater connection to the world, to feel like they belonged more to this great big planet than to one specific country. I also wanted them to grow up in a culture that didn’t emphasize “stuff.” But at that point raising my sons in another country just was not an option.

Being an archipelago, the Philippines offer countless destinations to see and experience.  Even if you are visiting to help the Filipino people by volunteering with an organization, you can still make time to travel around and go on an adventure. People are always happy to welcome visitors and finding affordable accommodation in a Cebu or Batangas hotel is easy with the help of many sites online.

Obviously a lot changed in 2010, and suddenly the option was back on the table.

No, I wasn’t running from something. I was definitely running to it. I was running to a better life, a life I dreamed up and created, a life of spending more time with my son, working less, teaching my child to appreciate what he has instead of constantly setting his eyes on the bigger and greater next “thing,” a life where I could truly live more. I saw it on the horizon, and I ran to it with open arms and have never looked back.

If you want to read about another person’s journey, read Justin’s blog to find out why a person would want to travel forever.

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18 Comments

  1. I think this is a very important question to ask.  Running away or looking to travel to make you happy will lead only lead to more issues later.  There will definitely be moments of happiness as any type of change that we desire will bring that.  However, traveling is tough as well and there will be lots of bad days and moments also.  I don’t think traveling will make you happy but if you already content with who you are then I believe it can make you more fulfilled.

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    • Definitely agree. Happiness is not an external process. It has to happen internally, or it won’t happen at all. No “thing” can provide happiness.

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  2. “… rather than just sitting back and letting life happen to me.”

    Sadly, that is what many people spend their entire lives doing.

    As opposed to…

    “… a life I dreamed up and created,”

    THAT’s the difference.  Sadly, far too many don’t realize that it’s up to them to make their life more exciting, more fulfilling.  Nobody’s gonna do it for you.  It’s up to you to CREATE the kind of life you dream of.

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    • And to that I’ll add a hearty amen!

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  3. Great article and very thought provoking.  I agree that one shouldn’t travel the world just to escape problems back home and become happy.  People who think that travelling the world will solve all their problems are definitely setting themselves up for failure.  But travelling does open your world to new horizons and puts everything back home into perspective.  I think what you are showing your son will be invaluable as he growns!

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    • Thank you. And I agree with you. Travel is an amazing thing for clarifying one’s perspective, helping you really see what’s truly important to you, and allows for remarkable growth.

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  4. Thank you for sharing… Thank you for inspiring…  So glad we crossed paths online… looking forward to meeting in person… Enjoy the journey!

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    • Thank you! Looking forward to it as well.

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  5. Running To vs. Running From.  Sometimes it’s okay to run from something, but it sure feels good when you know you made a decision not out of desperation but because you simply saw what you wanted and you went for it!

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  6. I think this is a common question for any long term traveler to ask themselves and I definitely agree, life was just fine back home, but the road was just so much more appealing.

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    • I think that’s one of the cool things. I don’t know many long-term travelers who have answered they were running away from their life or unhappiness. It was more about creating the life they want.

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  7. Thanks for the tag Talon!  I can’t say I feel much differently.  Not running away, but more running towards what may be better.  Why settle for less of anything?  If you CAN do more, DO IT!  It has been great to watch you and your son grow over the past year.  

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    • Thanks, Justin. Most definitely agree with you! And why settle when it’s your life we’re talking about.

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    • Always nice to be running to something than running from. J

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  8. the only thing most kids in the Philippines dreamed of having is the experience of SNOW. ….

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