Travel As a Form of Escapism

Is travel just a form of escapism?

Why do you travel?

I was recently stalking the archives of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek when I came across an interesting guest post written by Ryan Holiday in 2013 called ‘How to Travel: 21 Contrarian Rules, ’ where he made a statement that travel, in and of itself, is not inherently valuable.

(For the record, this wasn’t the whole point of the article, which did contain some excellent – and some not-so-excellent – travel advice.)

Ignoring the slightly insufferable tone (which is somewhat par for the course from the ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator‘ author), there were a few lines in the post that really got me thinking. He accused travelers of using their explorations as a form of self-indulgent escapism.

Beer-&-nuts-at-bar“Traveling for the sake of traveling is stupid…the purpose of travel, like all important experiences, is to improve yourself and your life. It’s just as likely–in some cases more likely–that you will do that closer to home and not further…Travel should not be an escape…So ask: Do you deserve this trip? Ask yourself that honestly. Am I actually in a place to get something out of this?”

Now, Ryan is a smart guy, I’ll give him that. To make his point, he uses the writings of esteemed philosophers like Seneca.

“They make one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle. As Lucretius says ‘Thus each man flees himself.’ But to what end if he does not escape himself? He pursues and dogs himself as his own most tedious companion. And so we must realize that our difficulty is not the fault of the places but of ourselves.” – Seneca, On Tranquility of the Mind

In other words…wherever you go, there you are.

There’s some sage wisdom in this. You can’t run forever. There are some instances where you need to stay and fight; to face your problems head on in order to emerge victorious.


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