You announce to your friends or family that you’re planning yet another trip. Instead of being excited or even plain jealous, these people just look at you quizzically, totally unable to comprehend why you would want to go away again, and especially to a place they’ve barely heard of or can’t imagine in their entire lives ever wanting to visit.
These are people who don’t understand the travel bug.
I’m guessing there are quite a few travelers out there who have experienced this situation and I sympathize with you. If you’d really like these people to understand why you’re hitting the road again — or if it’s important that they do, because they’re your significant other or someone else affected by your travels — here are a few ways I’ve found to try to get them a bit more on side.
Don’t expect to convert them to travel addicts — it’s possible, but more often it’s just something you’re born with — but you might be able to at least elicit a normal reaction out of them when you start arranging your next trip.
#1: Information is Persuasion
Pass on some of your pre-trip research to your doubting friends and family so that they can know something concrete about the destinations you’re all hyped about. Be careful not to overdo this, of course. Just give them a small sample of websites or brochures or whatever info you have, carefully selected to be the kinds of things they’re most likely to be interested in — art galleries perhaps, or statistics about the cost of living. Pretty pictures can work miracles.
They don’t need to love your destination — you just want them to understand why you do.
Just make sure you do this without coming across all teacher-like or you’ll only be putting them off the idea more. Unless you’re trying to persuade them to come with you (a much harder proposition), they don’t need to love your destination — you just want them to understand why you do.
#2: Emphasize the Benefits
Many non-travelers just don’t see the point of it all. Their idea of taking a trip is limited to something like a package deal to a sun-kissed island where they’ll stay at the resort all week (by the pool) with one zany excursion into the local town for two hours. To these people, travel is equivalent to mere relaxation, and anything more complicated than that sounds much too exhausting.
If your traveling needs go a bit beyond this — and if you’re reading this site, the chances are very high that they do — it is (sometimes) possible to educate others about why you really want to go somewhere different. Angles include:
- Excitement. Just mention that you’re a bit hard to please when it comes to something that grabs your interest, and you need to head out further afield to satisfy your adrenalin cravings.
- Self development. Explain that travel helps you to push the boundaries in life and you hope it’ll lead to a few insights into your personality and the way forward for you.
- Financial. Personally, I don’t care too much about the fiscal side of things, but others do: if you’re planning to work as part of a longer trip, or you can sell stories of your trip afterwards, you can make your trip sound much more logical to some by mentioning the monetary benefits.
- Intercultural experience. There’ll be times when having deeper intercultural experiences will make you more employable, or just help you to deal with the kinds of people you meet in your everyday life at home, too.
- Language practice. Also good for the resume.
#3: Personalize Your Motivations
Everybody has a passion for something. We just belong to a bunch of people that have this passion for travel. Narrow down the passions of your friends and explain your travel bug in terms of their own favorite indulgence.
Yes, this could lead to conversations like this:
- “You know that new tire on your racing bicycle? How you kept stroking the new rubber and admiring its perfect fit? That’s how I feel about this airline ticket to Papua New Guinea.”
- “Remember when you got your first girlfriend? How exciting that was? That’s how I feel when I decide on an obscure country that I just have to visit.”
But heck, whatever it takes, just say it.
#4: Bugs Can Be Contagious
It’s not called the travel “bug” for nothing. For a start, it infects you and will never let go for your entire life. You just have to live with that (I certainly haven’t heard of any cases where it’s gone away). But the bonus is that sometimes, the travel bug is contagious.
The bonus is that sometimes the travel bug is contagious.
When I first announced I was going to live abroad and travel for an extended time, probably years, I received mixed reactions. Some of them bothered me. But when I was living far from home and just sending monthly emails to most of my friends, rather than having any particularly personal contact, I couldn’t really care about what their reactions were to my travels.
That’s when a funny thing happened. I started to get a lot of emails — particularly if I hadn’t sent an update for a while — where people said that they were traveling vicariously through me. They’d caught the travel bug, or at least a passive form of it. And over the years, some of these friends started going on trips inspired by some of the places I’d visited, and they even asked me for advice. So perhaps the lesson is that not caring so much about what people think is the best thing to do.
If You Don’t Succeed … Give Up and Travel Anyway
If you’ve tried all this and your friends or family members still don’t have the vaguest idea why you want to travel, it’s okay to give up. Give up on convincing or persuading them, that is. Then just throw yourself into trip preparations and fly off into the sunset.