I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t have the travel bug. And it feels good to admit that here, because I often find myself nursing a drink, nodding my head, and pretending to care while listening to a peer rave about the delicious artisanal coffee they had in some Euro-chic café during their study abroad trip. And it isn’t that I don’t care about their interest or admire their life-changing experience and adventurous spirit. It’s just that I personally don’t have any true interest in traveling abroad. And to be honest, I’m not sure why. It isn’t that I’m a super-patriotic, America-rules-the-world kind of person, and it isn’t that I don’t think other places are incredible. I don’t even think it is laziness. I think it is just a mix of financial cautiousness and genuinely being content where I am.
I know you’re supposed to spend on “experiences” rather than “things,” but, to be honest, I don’t really have the money or desire to do either. I often feel like a Debbie downer or some boring, uncultured swine due to my lack of interest in traveling abroad. When my friends plan an exotic vacation to Central America that I don’t want to shell out for, or my boyfriend travels to the Mediterranean to perform with his choir, I don’t get pangs of jealousy over their experiences. I’m more jealous of the fact that they had the desire to go in the first place.
I sometimes truly wish I was spirited and adventurous enough to stuff a backpack with a few days worth of outfits, buy a plane ticket, and go on a marathon trip through Western Europe. I sometimes wish I shrugged my shoulders at the $200/night price tag on an all-inclusive resort and punched in my credit card number without a second thought. Sometimes I wish I wanted to spend NYE donning a sparkly dress and sipping champagne at a club in Montreal, rather than settling comfortably on the (fairly inexpensive) Connecticut nightlife I’ve grown accustomed to. But it’s just not who I am. And I can’t even muster up a teeny tiny shit to give about spending my money on travel, and it makes me feel, for lack of a better phrase, totally fucking lame.
There’s a bit of a backstory here, which could maybe be a reason for these feelings. Last year, after going through a terrible breakup and making the huge decision to temporarily drop out of school, I went on my first trip out of the U.S. I was 20 years old. My best friend is from Ireland and thought it’d be fun to spend the week of Thanksgiving gallivanting around Dublin and sleeping in a gross hostel. I was excited and terrified for the trip, and I was earnestly grappling with my startlingly non-existent interest in leaving the country. And honestly, I should have trusted my gut. The trip wasn’t bad by any means. I had so much fun spending 10 days with my best friend, and Dublin is truly a beautiful city with a lot of fun things to offer. But I wasn’t transformed, and I didn’t fall in love with traveling. I spent a week in a city that was not so unlike the one I lived in, but spent more than $1,500 to do so. And the experience wasn’t really any richer than my regular experiences at home. It was fun, but I could have had the same amount of fun at home, saved some money, and slept in my own comfy bed that night.
I try to remind myself that my disinterest in travel isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean I’m boring, or that I hate other cultures. I’m just completely satisfied entertaining myself in the place I live, and prefer not to spend my limited funds to go elsewhere. I’m happy and fulfilled, and I don’t feel like I need to go abroad to search for any more happiness. And that’s not to say people who love traveling are unhappy people, because I don’t believe that to be true. People who love traveling love having new experiences, finding new places, and meeting new people. And those are great qualities to have, but they’re not the only great qualities you can have. My generation makes you feel like if you don’t have that ~will to travel~, you’re missing something.
I love a good adventure as much as the next person, but I’ve also always been a very happy introvert and a true homebody. I love the familiarity of drinking my favorite drink at my favorite bar, watching my favorite movie with my boyfriend, and hiking my favorite trail with my puppy. I’m comforted by these things, not bored by them, and I think that’s okay. Although I absolutely see the value in traveling, and understand all the things one can learn from leaving the place they were born and exploring new territory, I think it is important to remember that the travel bug isn’t a trait that makes one person innately more interesting than another. Embracing the things that fill you up and give you joy, whatever those things may be, is a far more valuable trait than forcing yourself to leave your comfort zone to impress others.
Mary is a 21-year-old communications student/freelance writer, who never knows what to say in bios. She is on Twitter.
Image via Unsplash