Last Updated: 3/12/2022 (Added links)
Original Post: 10/19/2009
My dad always asks what I’m running away from with my travels. A commenter told me to stop running away from my problems and to start living life. “Grow up,” he said.
And, years ago, there was a blog called “Mom says I’m running away.”
I’m not sure why, but there is this perception out there that anyone who travels long term and isn’t interested in settling down or getting a conventional job must be running away from something.
They are just trying to “escape life.”
They are running away from responsibility, being a grown-up, heartache, problems, etc, etc.
Long-term travelers are all just Peter Pans refusing to be “adults.”
While society thinks traveling is something everyone should do at one point, it’s only gap years after college or short vacations that are acceptable. Get it out of your system and come back into the Matrix.
Those of us who lead nomadic lifestyles, or who linger just a bit too long somewhere before reaching that final homestretch, are all too often accused of running away.
Yes, go travel — but just not for too long the world says. Responsible people don’t just travel forever.
We nomads must have awful, miserable lives, or are weird, or have had something traumatic happen to us that we are trying to escape. People assume that we are simply running away from our problems, running away from “the real world.”
To all those people, I say – you are right.
I am running away.
I’m running away from your idea of the “real” world.
I’m avoiding your life.
While there may be exceptions (as there are with everything), most people who become nomads do so because they want to experience the world, not escape problems. We are running away from office life, commutes, and weekend errands, and the corporate 9 to 5. We’re running away from the strict path society has laid out as “normal.” The one that makes us mindless ants marching to and fro.
Life is short and we only get to live it once. I want to look back and say I did exciting things and lived life on my own terms, not say I spent my life reading blogs like this during my lunch break while wishing I was doing the same thing.
No one dies going “If only I had spent more time in the office!”
As an American, my perspective might be different. In my country, the accepted path is long and narrow: you go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have your 2.5 children, raise them, and then retire. Only then, after you’ve put in your time, can you enjoy the fruits of your labor. Society boxes you in and restricts your movements to their expectations.
And any deviation is considered abnormal and weird.
People may want to travel, tell you they envy what you do, and say they wish they could do the same thing. But they never do. Few people must the courage to take the leap, no matter how much their heart pulls them. They are simply fascinated by a lifestyle so outside the norm.
While social media, the rise of digital nomading, and websites like this have made quitting your job to travel the world or teach English in Thailand a little more acceptable, the general attitude is still “follow the path if you want to be normal.”
Well, I don’t want to be normal.
I feel like the reason why people tell us we are running away is that they can’t fathom the fact that we broke the mold and are living outside the norm. To want to break all of society’s conventions, there simply must be something wrong with us.
Years ago, a book called “The Secret” came out. According to “The Secret,” if you just wish for and want something badly enough, you’ll get it. But the real secret to life is that you get what you want when you do what you want.
Life is what you make it out to be. Life is yours to create. We are all chained down by the burdens we place upon ourselves, whether they are bills, errands, or, like me, self-imposed blogging deadlines. If you really want something, you have to go after it.
People who travel the world aren’t running away from life. Just the opposite. Those that break the mold, explore the world, and live on their own terms are running toward true living, in my opinion. We have a degree of freedom a lot of people will never experience. We get to be the captains of our ships.
But it is a freedom we chose to have.
We looked around and said, “I want something different.”
And then we went for it.
It was that freedom and attitude I saw in travelers years ago in Thailand that inspired me to do lead the life I am now. I saw them break the mold and I thought to myself, “Why not me?”
I’m not running away.
I, like so many others before, am just running towards my own idea of a normal life.
And I never plan to look back.
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
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