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. Hey Amanda!

    How about the cons of actually travelling… airlines that change the aircraft on you, losing the aisle seat you bought, getting last row that doesn’t recline, getting bumped, terrible service that makes you want to turn around…

      Those are some temporary negatives, yes, but not really what I was focusing on in this post. 😉

    My name’s Patrick, and I, am a travel addict. Not that thats a problem 😉 While there may be pro’s and con’s to travel as you say and no known cure for travel addiction (do we really want one anyways?) I wouldn’t trade it for the world (wait, bad analogy) the people i’ve met, places i’ve explored and cultures I’ve experienced have been worth every “con” i’ve ever had to deal with! Keep it up!

      I wouldn’t trade it, either!

    […] What is your opinion on travel?  I view travel as a way to make more friends.  To discover new things and expand my mind.  To step out of my bubble of safety and see the rest of the world.  For another view on the pros and cons of travel, click here. […]

    Spinning your wheels / tourist or traveler? or a bit of both….

    Seems to me that my experiences traveling is what I call spinning the wheels.

    Travel is work. Set your money up be it in a money-belt. ATM withdrawals, cashing at an exchange, then flights and other transport, then lodging and food and if you want sim cards. When this part of the work is accomplished, I have found that having the closest proximity to a specific place in nature is key. Access becomes so important especially as a solo traveler. You can have all things ironed out as far as you arrangments and preparation and then come to find out you cannot get there because you are not in a group but a single traveler, which is akin to a curse in the traveler’s world and an oddball. So you spin your wheels and try your best to find a way to get access to a place. Thus you must search among the locals and most likely will pay a penalty but you may get there. But the best places I have been are not that easy to get to. If you have access to nature at the lodge you are at and it can be observed easily from there rather than having to travel aways then this is the most ideal situation. If you can’t do this, then find day trips or short term trips into that area and be back at comfort at night to sleep. Most of the time however, things happen as you investigate and ALL the hours of research on line really don’t mean much including reading countless reviews/ reports of other people’s experiences.

    There is the imaginative travel you dream of and read about on line and you tube and then there is your own real deal. And there will be a lot of spinning your wheels in the real travel but you just hope you get the access alone in your little piece of a real dream.

    Hi Amanda ,
    I like your post very much and i think you are right with all.
    When i am older , i want to see the world too and i hope that i will have much money to life my dreams.
    Have a nice life :3

      I hope you get to see the world, Isabelle!

    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

    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.

    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 🙂

      Yup, those are indeed things to consider, too, as far as the practical impacts of travel go!

    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.

      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.

        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.

    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 😉

      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.

    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.

      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!

    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…

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

    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 🙂

      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!

    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!

      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!

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