12 Oct Leaving Home and Travel Guilt
I’ve thought long and hard about whether I should even write this post – but I think it’s only right to talk about the lows, as well as the highs of planning a massive life change like leaving everything behind to travel the world. Right now, aside from being crazy excited that our departure date is only 20 weeks away and losing sleep over how much we still have left to do before we leave; I’m experiencing a case of travel guilt.
Why do I feel Guilty about Leaving Home to Travel?
I didn’t realise that as our trip drew closer our reasons for leaving would become clearer to us, but yet more baffling to those who know us. In fact, we’re having to spend more and more time explaining to people exactly why we want to go travelling – which isn’t as simple as it sounds.
For Andrew, it’s more a straightforward case of wanting to travel now, while we have the time, money and health to do so. He’s happy teaching and gets satisfaction from his job; but for me, things are different. I’ve spent three years in my current job writing with the sole aim of making money for my employer, so I want to get away and finally write about my passions for a change. I might not make much (or any) money from it but at least I’ll be happy.
It’s not just that though; I need to see the world and I want to get away from this lifestyle I’m living now. I don’t like being stuck in this grinding capitalist routine; working long hours to earn money to spend on expensive housing, shiny gadgets, fancy clothes and the annual two week package holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re better than anyone else for choosing travel over a home, family and steady job – I get that these things make other people happy; they’re just not for me.
That’s where the guilt comes in though. Who am I to complain about my life when billions of other people have a far more difficult time than us? We live comfortably, we have jobs, enough to eat, a place to live, families and people we care about, so why do I want to throw all that away to go travelling?
What I try to remember is that happiness is relative depending on who you are and where in the world you happen to have been born. In many ways we’re lucky to have been born in a country where we have access to free healthcare and education, for example, a benefit system, an opportunity to get a job and a right to express our opinions freely. But, all that doesn’t mean our society is perfect though, that we don’t still have battles to fight or that we shouldn’t wish for more. Britain isn’t all flag-waving, jubilee parties and dazzling Olympic ceremonies – there is still poverty, illness and injustice in this country. The majority of people struggle through their daily lives, making ends meet while the minority hog the money, benefits and opportunities.
That’s another reason why I want to leave – so that I can see how other people live and find a way to live that makes me happy. But then there’s also the guilt of leaving everyone behind – of feeling like I’m shunning people I genuinely like and enjoy spending time with. I know, for instance, that my mum isn’t happy about us going; she’s worried that we won’t want to come back and that she’ll never see us again, even though I’ve tried to reassure her that won’t happen. Andrew and I both have elderly grandparents we’re leaving behind, and friendships that will be hard to maintain while we’re on the road.
I’m sure I’ll feel this guilt again and again, especially when we travel to economically poorer countries; or miss another family occasion – but I suppose these are the things we’re going to have to deal with if we want to make our dreams of long-term travel a reality.
Do you ever feel guilty about travelling?