Why do we travel?

  • Post category:Social / Travel
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Source: www.backcountry.com
My latest trip to Bali gave me many perspectives to think about. Not all of those my original thoughts. Some of those I observed while talking to fellow travellers or people in Bali. The trip made me realize even more that world is so diverse. Every small change can make a huge difference if given it a enough space and time. One of the thought, quite obviously, that occurred to me was why do we travel? Some of the reasons one would give is to
  • see different places
  • have a change from daily routine
  • experience nature.
  • see marvels of the world (man made of natural)
  • meet new people
  • explore the world
  • experience independence
  • know different cultures
  • know our friends/family/ partners better
  • and some others
Recently one of my friend shared on those “5 things to do” type of article;  Ten reasons why travel is an investment.
However, I was thinking about the basic needs why humans would have started travelling? I am sure many of the reasons for which we travel today were not valid many years ago. This would have been specifically true when there was no way to know what is on the other side of the mountain not to mention on the other side of the world!
Thousands of years ago, we did not know that there are place far away connected by sea. Well, we did not even know how far the land goes. No one would have travelled to Norway or Iceland to see northern lights. Niagara falls was not a reason to go to Canada. I should also mention that we did not have these names for locations as well. Our scope would have been limited to the area we lived in. Once the group got too big, part of it moved to different location. However, this was mainly a random travel to a selected direction without knowing which place they were going to and what lies ahead. Main intention was to go away from other group to avoid regular conflict.


I am not sure if people were travelling just for the sake of travelling. I am sure as a species we were also afraid to move out of our safety zone. Every step into unknown land would have meant new dangers, new animals, new groups, new fights. Every travel would have meant l

owering your chances of survival. every adventure would have meant opening channels for new threats, not just for you but probably for your group as well. I think in those few of main reason of travel out of your safety zone would have been lack of food, unavailability of water or a natural disaster e.g. wild fire etc. Only people travelling at that time would have been those who were challenging the norms, were curious to know the unknown, had dare to go in the open. They did not want to see something specific. They just want to get out of the known and explore the new grounds, to see whats outside the safety zone. These would have been the original travellers, who were ready take on the world alone come what may.
As we evolved to become more “social”species, reasons for travel would have changed. However, I am still talking of the era, where most people did not know what is beyond the neighbouring villages. Only some of those would have travelled to 100 villages wide and long. Surely, distance was limited due to the means of transport, but I feel the reasons for travel would still have been different. They would not have travelled to the 50th village for 2-3 months just to see the city hall or a big building or a fountain in the city center.
I think one of the main reason was to get out the daily routines, discussions, quarrels of the local community. They did not have many entertainment channels. No TV, no radio, not many sports, political agendas, scandals or Hollywood or TV shows. No world wars to talk about, no peace missions, no “help the child”campaigns to feel sympathy for. Till all those and other gaps they would need different stories, new topics to talk about to get out of the routine. Travel to different place would have been the main source for these topics. Travellers would spend time in other villages, talk to locals, work with them, learn their skills, experience their wisdom. They would come back and tell stories about new places they visited, different things that happen in other villages, bring new experiences, new techniques and new ideas. These stories were then told multiple times between people who manage daily businesses.
However, today we can see that people travel across the world to read a book by the pool side in their hotel! They to go to other city only to see a place , a castle, a sea shore, a market, a building, and take a photo with it. There are not many interactions between people to learn about each other. Are the local routines so bad that even to read a book people need to go to another city? Are we so tired of other humans that we care about buildings and photos?
What if we change the environment by sharing a smile; be it local or while travelling. A sincere smile can already make the day more relaxed, more enjoyable and less stressful. All it needs is a small courage to do it.
Keep smiling.