The Pros and Cons of Travel

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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.

Walking the Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand
Is travel calling YOU?

The Pros and Cons of Travel

Pros of travel

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.

Deadvlei in the Namib Desert

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 looking for alternative accommodation 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 or Central America.

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Nicaragua, for example, is quite affordable.

Cons of travel

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.

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 cat. 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.

Lanterman's Mill in Mill Creek Park
I definitely miss home in Ohio when I'm away for a long time.

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. 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.

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow

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.

RELATED: The World Is Not Safe – But You Should Explore it Anyway

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 my place in the world, 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?


The Pros and Cons of Travel


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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63 Comments on “The Pros and Cons of Travel

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  1. 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 🙂

      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.

    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 🙂

      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.

    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. 🙂

    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!

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

    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.

      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.

    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.

      Thanks, Ali! And I’m with you – I couldn’t imagine NOT traveling, no matter what the cons are.

    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.

      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!

    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!

      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.

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

      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.

    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!

      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!

    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.

      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!

    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?

      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!

    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.

      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?

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