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I am passionate about travel. Anyone visiting this site should be aware of this. But just because I love it doesn’t mean I’m not aware of its faults. As with many other things in life, there are both pros and cons to travel; ups and downs.

I get some of the cons thrown at me every now and then from people who don’t understand my desire to see the world.

“Why would you want to be away from home that long?” they ask. “How will you afford it?”

So I decided to take a look at both the good AND bad about travel, so that maybe next time I’ll have a solid argument for all the skeptics.

The Pros and Cons of Travel

Pros

Escapism. Travel allows you to escape. Whether it’s from a bad relationship (or perhaps no relationship at all), a job you hate, or simply a boring, sedentary life, sometimes you feel like you just need to get away. Travel is the perfect form of escapism – far better than reading a book or watching a movie – because it actually means you get to leave your current situation. You can trade in whatever is making you unhappy for something different, even if it’s just for a little while. A change of scenery is sometimes just what you need to get over boredom or the blues, and being far removed from a problem or stressor often allows you to look at it through new eyes.

Travel is a learning experience. Seeing other parts of the world and immersing yourself in foreign cultures opens up completely new avenues of discovery. Travel in itself can be educational, and can open your eyes in ways you never thought possible. Through travel, you can become more aware – both of yourself, and the larger world around you. A traveler has the unique ability to be a citizen of not only his/her own country, but also of the world.

Ability for self-discovery and reinvention. When you’re out on the road meeting new people and opening up to new experiences, you may find that you are also slowly reinventing yourself. Or perhaps letting the self you’d like to be finally emerge. Travel can be liberating in many ways, but especially when it comes to self-discovery. Being thrown into a foreign culture (or even into a not-so-foreign culture) without all the comforts of home can be challenging, but it’s often those truly tough, personal challenges that will help you grow as an independent individual.

Opportunity for adventure and spontaneity. Travel can open up so many doors and provide for so many adventures, both planned and spontaneous. If you’re in the mood to make a lasting memory, get out and see the world. Let life happen, both to you and around you, and just go with it. Who knows where it could lead?

It can be affordable. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a millionaire or have a large trust fund in order to travel. Saving a little here and there can go a long way over time. Being a deal hunter and staying in hostels can pay off. And, if you choose destinations where the cost of living is low, a little can go a long way. For example, a month of your U.S. salary could easily last you two, three, maybe even four months in Southeast Asia. Basically, f you really have the desire to travel, then you can make it happen.

Cons

Escapism. Yes, travel allows you to escape. But sometimes escaping can take the form of running away. Whether it’s that bad breakup or loss of a job, sometimes you just want to leave it all behind and do something crazy, like move 10,000 miles away for a while. But if you truly run away and never look back (or never confront the initial problem that sent you fleeing), travel may do more harm than good. Escaping a bad situation is fine, but hiding behind the guise of travel in order to avoid dealing with that bad situation is not quite as advisable. Eventually, you have to face your demons.

My front yard

Being homesick. Even if you aren’t terribly close to your family, it’s likely you’ll still feel some semblance of homesickness at some point during your travels. Maybe you miss your significant other. Maybe you miss a sibling or cousin. Hell, maybe you really miss your dog. Being away from home can be stimulating and wonderful, but it’s not unnatural to fall into a funk every now and then when you pine for “home.” The good news is that things like Skype, Facebook and e-mail make keeping in touch incredibly easy in this day and age.

Missing family milestones/emergencies back home. Maybe your sister gets engaged, or has a baby. Maybe grandma dies. Maybe a close friend gets diagnosed with cancer. You’d love to be there for all of these important milestones and tragedies; you want to be able to offer your love and support in person, and not through a computer screen or telephone signal. But, it’s likely to happen if you’re traveling for any length of time. Life at home will go on without you, and it’s one thing you just have to come to terms with.

It can be costly. Just as travel can be affordable, it can also be extremely expensive. Many European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, have incredibly high costs of living. If you’re dead-set on moving Down Under for any length of time, for example, that $10,000 you saved up over the past two years unfortunately isn’t going to get you very far. The same goes for hard-to-reach destinations like Antarctica. If you’re dreaming of the ultimate budget travel adventure, you may have to edit your list and cut many places – like the South Pole – out.

The addictiveness of travel. They don’t call it the “travel bug” for nothing. Once it bites, it can infect you with an insatiable desire to travel that never goes away. Once is often never enough, as evidenced by the scores of travelers out there who are on the road indefinitely. Especially if you’re prone to becoming addicted to things that give you a good high, don’t expect one trip to ever be the end of it. This can easily turn into an incurable sense of restlessness that no amount of movement can satisfy.

Looking at this list, I’m sure I’m not alone in deciding that the “pros” far outweigh the “cons” when it comes to travel.

With any great adventure or endeavor in life, there are going to be risks, and there are going to be sacrifices.

Some people might put “the dangers of travel” on the cons list, but, really, just getting in your car and driving to work each day is dangerous. Sure, there are risks to travel, especially long-term travel. But life itself is a risk.

The sacrifices, though, are real, and do exist when it comes to travel.

But if I have to sacrifice some family time to better understand myself, I think it’s worth it. If I have to substitute one destination for another because of finances, then I’ll do it. And, honestly, travel is just about the best thing a person could become addicted to, as far as I’m concerned.

If traveling could mean that I’ll never want to stop… well, bring it on.

——

What’s your take? Do you have anything to add to the “pro” or “con” list? Do you think one side outweighs the other?

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47 Responses to The Pros and Cons of Travel

  1. Very well said. Especially the danger part. We’ve been accused of being ‘selfish’ for wanting to travel (or more like not wanting to settle down and buy a house and have 6 kids). So I guess we can add that to the ‘cons’ list even though I’m not quite sure what’s so selfish about following your dream.
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..How Much Does A RTW Trip Cost – Revisited

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’ve heard lots of travelers receive the “selfish” label. It’s unfortunate. I think the people who use this label are simply jealous. Like you said, what’s selfish about following your dream?

  2. Hey Amanda, this is a pretty thorough look at the pros and cons. I would agree with everything you said. One thing I would add is that I think travel can also let you deal with your demons in a constructive way. Of course, this all depends on what your issues are. And I agree, it is one of the better addictions you can have :)

    B well, Phil
    PS Im coming back to ohio for the holidays. Going to have to brace myself for the weather. How is it right now?
    Phillip Paoletta recently posted..3 Fun Strategies to Deal with Hasslers- Hawkers- and Touts

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Phil. It took me a while to write this, because I had to really think about the good AND bad about travel. I agree with you, though, about travel being a constructive way to deal with your demons — it certainly can be!

      Right now, Ohio is cold, grey and blustery. We got our first stick-on-the-ground snow last night. I’m sooo not ready for winter!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by phil paoletta and Jack and Jill, Amanda Williams. Amanda Williams said: NEW POST: The Pros and Cons of Travel http://wp.me/p10Ebd-1b3 #travel #lp [...]

  4. Steve says:

    I agree that there are some cons to traveling, but you’re also right that the pros outweight those cons. I think for me the restlessness of being at home and not traveling is the worse. I also get a lot of negative comments about travel from family members who think the places I go are dangerous.
    Steve recently posted..8 Countries You Can Travel to That Aren’t Really Countries

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I think there are “cons” – or at least challenges – to anything in life that’s worthwhile. But, if everything was easy, what would be the point?

      I agree that the restlessness is often the worst. I’ve been feeling that way for about the past year!

  5. Dan Collins says:

    Awesome post :-)
    Dan Collins recently posted..The Countdown begins!

  6. Gillian says:

    My favorite thing to say…It’s supposed to be hard!! If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it! I like to focus on the pros and manage the cons. Good list! Cheers!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Ooo, very nice quote – “focus on the pros and manage the cons.” That’s a fantastic way to look at things. Glad you liked the list!

  7. Giulia says:

    Totally agree, travelling is educational and travellers speak a common language, exchanging their opinions and ways of life..it’s always such an enriching experience!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Enriching is a good word to describe it. And I love that you can travel ANYWHERE in the world, and come across other travelers just like yourself.

  8. Kirsty says:

    As much as we miss things from back home I agree that the pros far outweigh the cons for Poi and I! It’s extremely addictive too, we keep adding countries to the list, a lot quicker than we are traveling to them!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m glad to hear that you guys have no regrets! I know that if I ever started a RTW trip like you two, I’d probably never want to come home! There would always be another city or country that I’d want to see next.

  9. Matt says:

    Really enjoyed this, Amanda. I wrote a post awhile back talking about the challenges to successful long term travel – these cons very much echo the points I made. I think while they’re challenges, in the end they add to the experience and help us to – as you say – grow and develop as a person.

    Let’s face it, if it was easy – it wouldn’t be nearly as appealing.
    Matt recently posted..7 Reasons You Should Experience Backpacking in Thailand

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I think I remember reading that post, Matt. But yes, I think the challenges are all part of the experience. And, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and then there wouldn’t be anything special about it!

  10. Ali says:

    I love this post! I’m definitely a travel addict & that addiction escalates with each trip I take. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. I couldn’t imagine my life without travel.
    Ali recently posted..Opt Out of What

  11. Natalie says:

    Running away is so true. I have met so many people traveling Turkey and I would say 99% of them are running away from something. Thing is at some point, they get homesick and want to go back.
    Natalie recently posted..Derinkuyu – The Ancient Underground City

    • DangerousBiz says:

      It’s okay to use travel to escape for a while. But, as someone said in an earlier comment, at some point you have to face your demons and deal with the issue that forced you to run in the first place.

  12. Mitch says:

    So true. And I definitely think that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to travel. It’s way more likely that in twenty or thirty years I will regret the things I didn’t do versus the things that I did. I’d rather make some sacrifices now to see the places I really want to see than not see them at all. Great post!
    Mitch recently posted..Feeling Under the Weather When Youre on the Road

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Mitch! And I totally agree with you – I’d much rather make some sacrifices now than have a whole host of regrets later!

  13. Andi says:

    I think it’s important to always look at both sides of things, but I definitely think in the case of travel the positive ALWAYS outweighs the negative. :)
    Andi recently posted..Cuba- Day 6 Part 2

  14. Ayngelina says:

    One pro often forgotten is personal growth. You never really know who you are until your familiar surroundings are no longer there to define you.

    Also you can never run away from your problems, they have ways of finding you in different time zones :)
    Ayngelina recently posted..6 Porky Perfect Foods in Ecuador

    • DangerousBiz says:

      For people looking to “find” themselves, I would always recommend travel. Like you said, you can find out a lot about yourself and grow in some unexpected ways when you throw yourself into a new, unknown situation.

  15. I’ll refer my many doubters to your post lol. I keep telling them the same over and over. Travelling is an amazing way to do all of these things in one tastily wrapped package :)
    Andrew Murray recently posted..Attractions of Arkhangai Aimag- Mongolia

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yes, please refer them here! Haha. Though, I feel like many of those naysayers wouldn’t be moved to change their opinions by a simple blog post. I feel like, unless you’ve actually traveled yourself and been affected by it, it’s a hard concept to grasp.

  16. Aaron says:

    I’ve always found it fascinating how people who just sit at home all day will often tell me that I’m just running away from my troubles and going off to play in some far off land. It’s like I’m challenging society’s norms by not sticking to the 9-5 50 week work year.

    You’re absolutely right in saying that travel has some potential negatives (doesn’t everything in life though?), but I wholeheartedly agree that the positives far, far outweigh the negatives. And you definitely hit it right on when you said that travel is a learning experience. What those naysayers don’t understand is that travel has had a far greater impact on me and my life than working at home could ever have!
    Aaron recently posted..2010′s Weirdest Travel Experiences

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Everything in life does have negative aspects I think – even if you don’t think about them often. But I agree with you that travel has influenced and changed me perhaps more than anything else in my life. It almost makes me sad when I encounter the people who don’t understand why I love to travel. I wish they could be as excited about it as I am!

  17. My biggest worry when I travel is homesick. After a few days away from home, I get homesick and I want to go home, I am not in the mood for traveling anymore. My friends hate me for this but there is nothing I can do about it :)
    Samantha Dermot recently posted..Buying Guide For Teeth Grinding Mouth Guards

    • DangerousBiz says:

      You’re definitely not alone. Plenty of people suffer homesickness when they travel. But hopefully that doesn’t stop you from at least taking shorter trips!

  18. My longest vacation was 7 days long, when I got home I was soooo happy. Is quite weird but that’s how I feel, when I am away from home…
    Samantha Dermot recently posted..Buying Guide For Teeth Grinding Mouth Guards

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Well, everyone travels differently, and that’s completely okay! Maybe long-term travel just isn’t your thing. :)

  19. The pros definitely outweigh the cons with travel. The worst things for me was coming home and constantly starting sentences with, ‘When I was travelling….’ and virtually everyone getting pretty fed up of me.
    Monica (@thetravelhack) recently posted..Leaving day finally arrives…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I agree! I think most travelers would agree that the pros outweigh the cons… otherwise we wouldn’t do it! But yes, it’s always tough when you come back and want to tell everyone everything about your trip, but they aren’t quite so interested!

  20. Hey Amanda!
    I think the biggest con is the addictiveness of it! Honestly, my restlessness to always be seeing new things, exploring uncharted territory, stretching my mind – it can make it hard for me to be home sometimes, which causes me to take it for granted. But, I’m workin on it :) :)

    Overall… I’d never give up my addiction though! :)

    Oh and as far as missing friends and being homesick, I’ve gotten better and better at convincing friends to ignore that other con of it being costly and coming out to visit me :) :) I mean… cumon.. I’m gunna go to Spain next.. my lady friends… Espana boys… how can one pass that up?! haha ;-)
    Laur @ The Mad To Live recently posted..The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to start a Passionately Curious and Successful Business

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I totally agree with you, Laur! The biggest con of travel is the addictiveness, but it’s so totally worth it!

      And good for you for convincing some of your friends to come a visit you abroad! That’s awesome.

  21. Emma says:

    I agree entirely with this, my sister hit the nail on the head when she compared travelling to crack (not that we’ve tried it) I’m really struggling to adjust to life back home and already am planning just a two week holiday on my own, much to my long term boyfriends dismay. He has no desire to travel and we don’t seem to understand each other in this sense. Should be saving to move out of my parents house but the idea of settling down seems so dull and gets me feeling really low. I know I will have to put up with the norm at some point but my mind will always be in a far away land. Sometimes I wish I’d never gone traveling as it has made me feel so sad to be home but then I close my eyes and pretend I’m there again.

    • Emma says:

      I should add that I went travelling solo previously for 2 months, and I love my boyfriend very much. It’s not just the beautiful places I miss, it’s not caring what you look like, not watching tv, living in hostels and meeting amazing people with amazing stories to tell. I’m very lucky to live in a big house with people who love me very much, doing a job I enjoy, it’s just the monotony and predictability of life that I want to run away from.

      • DangerousBiz says:

        I totally understand where you’re coming from — and I’m sure most other travelers would understand, too! The trick is to try and find a job or “settled” life that still allows you some flexibility and the ability to travel, even if just on shorter trips.

  22. Vanessa says:

    This was very useful for my homework and personal inside :) you could also add
    “damage and negative impacts on the environment, pollution, global warming (which leads to natural disasters such as landslides, avalanches, etc.)”

    we are currently repeating “globalization” at school :)

  23. Aashima says:

    Awesome post.

    I believe there’s nothing like pros n cons. Its just belief in mind. If you love it, you wil certainly do it . Once fallen for this travel love, its really really hard to get back to normal life.

  24. joe says:

    I think the biggest cons for travel is to the environment. It cost a lot of Earth resource for every single flight. It produce a lot of pollution to the Environment. Every single flight can involved hundred tons of oil and a single aircraft cost hundred million us dollars and can operate for only twenty years

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