Much Ado About Traveling and The Danger of Self-Care in Our World

Bon voyage? Or nah?

Travel.

When I was much younger and did not travel as much as I now do, I used to list travel as a hobby. Surely, nothing can be as fanciful and luxurious as packing a tiny bit of your life into your suitcase, scurrying through crowded airports, getting on a plane and jetting away into God-knows-where? Then I grew up and found the answer to that. Only a few things are more horrible than leaving home at the crack of dawn or maybe ridiculously late at night to meet long lines at a check-in counter; then walking a few miles (depending on how stupidly large the airport is) to another ridiculously long line so some stranger can basically press your breasts to be sure that you do not plan on bombing a plane or hijacking it; then after surviving the horror that is TSA, you realize you are starving because you left home too early for a plane that does not leave until a few hours, but then again airport foods are overpriced if  at all you manage to find anything decent enough to be consumed (God save you if you are traveling out of Dulles); only to get on a plane where they honest to God serve the most disgusting piece of thing (called food) you have ever seen; and then you are trapped in what is basically a tube for some hours so much that your legs hurt and your skin is so dry, there are visible scales; then you land in another country but are too jet lagged to do anything, and when you finally get the chance to, your stomach hurts and your body just won't adapt to different climate; so you stay there miserable (but fake being happy, of course) for a couple of days; and it's time to do all of the above over again. Except this time you have to resume work the next day.

Whew.



I tell ya. Traveling is not all it's cut out to be. But that's not what you see online and on your Instagram timeline. You are told traveling is how you discover yourself. It's the next best thing since slice bread. In fact, it is now being touted as self-care. Hashtag self-care. Sigh. SELF MOTHERFREAKING CARE. Every single thing is a self care trope these days. And I worry that the capitalist and consumerist world we find ourselves in has somehow managed to curate the idea of self-care as something that you need to sink money into. When the truth could be entirely different. Maybe travel is overrated. And maybe sometimes self care is paying down your student loans [or other debt] instead of taking another trip where you spend more than half the time taking pictures to convince the rest of us that you really are having fun. I think it can be classist to sell traveling as this thing everyone has to do in their lives. Is it probably good to see other places and cultures? Yes, perhaps. But is travel the one true zenith of an accomplished and purposeful life? No. absolutely not. And whoever sells it as such to you is a liar.

I don't like to travel very much. Newsflash. Plane rides make me mad uncomfortable. I spend too much time worrying about safety and other shenanigans in the new place I am visiting, and it takes too long to adapt or revert to my normal whenever I return. Besides my own personal bias and dietary concerns about traveling, I genuinely think traveling can be overrated. Now would I stop traveling? Probably not. I accept and admit that traveling can be exciting and I love making memories with people I care about. But I will never make it my life's mission to "see the world" or "travel".  I will travel with people I care about if it means getting to spend time with and making memories with them, of course. People pose travel as this opportunity to learn grand things about yourself and the world. And I bet you, you can learn the same things in your room, on your bed on a rainy Saturday morning. Except this time, you would have saved yourself thousands of dollars and a few million bacteria. I don't think the act of travel has ever been a form of escape for me, and I don't think it should be for you either.

People say they yearn to learn about other people's cultures and experiences. Fair enough. Except most of y'all go to other people's countries, villages and never know how to properly behave. You crap on people's customs and call them bizarre the minute you find them different from you. If no one will tell you this, I will: going to a remote village for the sole purpose of your once-in-a-lifetime magical experience or some eat-pray-love crap is just...a tad selfish if we are being honest. Not to mention so many big cities have an underlying framework modeled so similarly that you might think you are having a de ja vu moment just walking down the road.

And let's face it, you are way too busy taking the perfect Instagram photo to learn anything about your destination. So while traveling is not a terrible thing, I need people who travel to get off their high horse and drop the sheer hubris that emboldens them to think because they have hopped from plane to plane, their life is better than others. The worst are those of you that have the guts to go to ANOTHER PERSON's place of dwelling, take a picture of it as a contrast to your designer clothings and USE THEM TO EXPLAIN WHY PEOPLE SHOULD BE THANKFUL BECAUSE AT LEAST THEY DON'T GET TO LIVE SO TERRIBLY. Please don't go on Instagram to celebrate  and take solace in the fact that your life is not as impoverished as those whose village you are in. And if you're white, I beg you with all things precious, do NOT...I repeat, do NOT take pictures with "poor, starving kids in Africa".

I was going to call the second part of the title, "the danger of self care in a consumerist and capitalist world" but it would have been too much of a mouthful. I think business enterprises have mastered the art of marketing their services and products, carefully parading them as self-care, because then it becomes a necessity, a requirement if you will, to a great life. When in reality, to truly have a good life you don't need most material things. Self-care has also become an indulgence; a carte blanche for recklessness and irresponsibility.

Traveling by itself is not what gives your life meaning and this is why I dislike the spiritual connotation attached to travel. If you can afford to, and you want to, then yes do it! But please do not travel and then make a post about how life altering it is. Because that's bullshit, and as someone who has been privileged to travel, I'm here to tell you not to fall for it.  You have been told traveling is a necessary investment you must make in yourself; depending on who you are, it probably isn't.

People brag about how travel has enlightened them and broadened their thinking, but all it takes is one conversation with people to see that they are still the same close-minded, ignorant person they were before packing their suitcases. I mean, what does finding yourself even mean? Seriously, humor me. Tell what what finding yourself means. Who you are is not a result of your mileage or one single experience; it's series of life events, memories, people, backgrounds, culture. You don't just wake up to find "yourself" on a 5 day trip to Belize. Traveling gives you another one of the million things that shape you. I would argue you are even more likely to "find yourself" in the mundane; in your normal; in  the midst of your routine.

I say all this not to demonstrate my hatred for traveling or visiting new places. Far from it; I don't hate visiting new places or traveling. On the contrary. I have a lot of traveling to do if I feel like (and can afford it), but what I will try hard not to do is sell it as the path to purpose or joy or happiness or worse, self-care.

Love,

I

P.S: I understand if you stopped reading halfway. Yikes this was long. Wuuttt. I did warn you about longer posts, didn't I?

P.P.S: To make up for this rant against travel, I shall write something on surving traveling or traveling efficiently, I promise.

P.P.P.S: If you are tempted to make this personal, get over yourself. I had absolutely no one in mind while writing this, I promise again.

P.P.P.P.S: Oh whatever, someone will for sure make this about them, I promise again, again. Hahaha. Enjoy loves!

4 comments

  1. Lool I actually read till the end! I agree, its overrated. It definitely can be fun with the right person(s) but its not this whole new world to discover yourself.

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    1. Haha of course, right persons like you hahahah thanks for stopping by, babe. And here is to many more trips!

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  2. I love this post and I shall share

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