“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer
Note from Rachel: This is a guest post by Danny Newman (see biography below), but describes exactly why I love to travel so much! I’ve added my own photos to illustrate it. As we wait for the pandemic to end, many of us travelers struggle with our “itchy feet.” Does this describe you?
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I (Rachel) will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.
I love this Pico Iyer quote almost as much as I love travel itself.
It speaks to me of everything I find so compelling about the experience of world travel.
Travelling has become a way of life for me now. It brings me joy, happiness and purpose more than anything else I’ve ever known. I consider it a privilege to be on the road, exploring new places, seeing new cultures with my own eyes, and immersing myself in all the indescribable beauty on offer.
I’m inextricably hooked, and I know I’m not alone!
I’ve met countless others who share my enthusiasm for travel. To speak with other people on the road is to realize the travel bug is real! Over a short period of time, travel can truly, and quite easily, become something of an obsession.
It got me thinking: What is it about travel that’s so addicting?
I put together a list of factors that I believe play their role. Read on to discover exactly why people get addicted to travel.
1. The People You Meet
Travel has a habit of bringing people together.
It’s one of the greatest benefits of the entire experience. You head to the other side of the world and meet other people doing exactly the same thing.
From the very outset, that fact can bind you to each other. You’re all travelling, all out of your comfort zone, and all hoping to have an adventure of a lifetime. As such, you meet people with similar passions, interests and ideals.
You also come across totally different people! Travel doesn’t discriminate. The road is home to individuals from every background and of every demographic imaginable.
It’s all the better for it.
You’ll meet and mingle with people you’d never otherwise cross paths with. You come across new ideas, novel perspectives, and potential challenges to your own ways. As such, you grow as a person, and might find yourself changing in line with the new friends you’ve made.
There’s nothing quite like travel to bond people together. You can make new friends in an instant. Travelling is an intense experience; it creates the perfect conditions for relationships to form.
2. The Places You Go
The world is full of incredible places, just waiting to be explored.
When you travel, you get to see them with your own eyes. You get to walk the streets, swim in the seas, climb the mountains, and dig your toes into the sand…
The places you go define your travels.
You realize the beauty there is out in the world. At exactly the same time, you understand how insular your life up to that point has been! Your group of friends, your home, your neighbourhood, and so on.
It might have been great, but it may have been a bubble as well. Travelling is a sure-fire way to burst it. There’s something deeply poignant about realizing that there’s more out there to see and do.
For many people, the need to keep exploring new places, and seeing more of the world, becomes intense.
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3. The Size of the World
This leads to my third point: The world is a big place!
Travelling made me truly realize this for the first time. Going to one country makes you realize there are dozens of others waiting to be explored. It can make you determined to see more of what’s out there.
Of course, there’s a strange duality to the world too. It’s a big place, with many countries to set foot upon. But wherever you go, you’ll come across someone you have a connection with.
I had this happen to me just recently. I’m currently staying in a tiny little town outside Melbourne, Australia, and we had some Couchsurfers stay a few weeks ago. One of them happened to be the brother of someone I knew from back home in London!
I’d even worked at the café opposite his house; we’d almost certainly crossed paths before without realizing!
It’s always hard to reconcile these situations with the scale of the world around you. That said, it’s also a lovely reminder that, however big the world can seem, you’re never all that cut off from home.
You might also want to read this article: Travel-addicted but can’t travel? 3 ways to deal with your wanderlust.
4. The Memories You Make
Travelling puts you in novel situations and unexpected predicaments on foreign shores.
You’ll see and do things you never even dreamed about, all with people you’ve only just met. It can be exciting, compelling, action-packed, and fast-moving.
You cram a wide range of experiences into what might be a short period of time. Travel is quite simply saturated with cool and inspiring encounters.
All told, you come away from them with an enormous array of new memories and stories to tell.
Life feels richer as a result. It also whets your appetite for more. You’ve had such an epic time, how could you not want to do it again?!
5. The Challenges Involved
Strangely, I think the challenges involved in travel are another reason it gets addictive.
Why would strife ever make an experience addicting?
Well, because you rise above it.
As much as I’ll always speak highly of travelling, it’s impossible to deny that it’s full of difficulty too. It can be lonely, tiring, upsetting, and deeply challenging all around. You have to navigate novel, and sometimes dangerous, situations by yourself. Family and friends from home are all thousands of miles away.
That’s not easy!
But overcoming the issues is incredible. After all, suffering always has a habit of leading to growth. You know good stuff is around the corner, and come to know that you’re able to deal with the downsides too.
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6. The Newfound Self-Belief
All of that equates to newfound self-confidence and belief.
Travel is an awesome self-development tool. By highlighting your weaknesses and insecurities, and forcing you to confront them head on, you inevitably come away a better and more rounded individual.
You begin to understand yourself better, and realize you’re more capable than you first thought. Travel (unless you’re just going out and getting drunk on a beach all the time) promotes maturity, growth and feelings of positive self-worth.
It’s hard not to get addicted to something that makes you feel on top of the world.
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7. The Snowballing Wanderlust
I’ve found that my desire to travel has only increased over time.
Sure, it fluctuates every now and again- especially in the tougher moments. The thought of a home-cooked meal and being around my friends and family is very appealing at times!
Overall though, the more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve felt the now familiar sense of wanderlust rise inside me. Likewise, if, for whatever reason, I’ve not been able to act on that desire – wow, that’s when I want to travel more than ever.
I don’t know if it’s the case for everyone.
But I suppose all addictions happen over time. You don’t take drugs once and wake up an addict the next day. It comes with continued exposure to it.
If travel is your drug of choice, then it makes sense that your addiction to it would grow in the same way. That’s definitely been my experience.
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8. The Peace & Joy
Have you ever felt complete and utter bliss?
As if life just couldn’t get better? Everything is literally perfect, and as it should be.
Unfortunately, they’re few and far between for most of us!
I’ve had my fair share of those moments on the road though. It’s hard to explain. But it feels like total unity between what I want and where I am in that instant. A wave of contentment that lifts the weight that can sometimes burden my shoulders.
Obviously, it feels epic! And I’ve never experienced anything like it outside of my travels.
9. The Dullness of the Everyday
Another reason I find travel compelling is when I compare it to home.
Sure, home life doesn’t have to be boring. Many people live deeply fulfilling lives based in one place they call home.
But I’d say a far higher proportion of people don’t live like that. Instead, it’s a daily grind that shatters hope and wears you down.
For me, there’s literally nothing worse than working a 9 to 5 job that you aren’t 100% passionate about. Life slips by in an instant. A year flashes past in the blink of an eye. Getting into a mundane routine is easy; time passes fast.
Before you know it, a decade has passed and you’ve got very little life experience to show for it.
I’m terrified by the idea of not making the most of my time. I want to maximize every single day; sure, that isn’t always feasible and I definitely don’t always live up to that aspiration. But having that priority makes a significant difference overall.
Travel offers an antidote to what can be a banal daily life. It’s anathema to routine; a shock to the system that drives experience and energizes you into living life fully.
In essence, travel can become a tool with which to break loose from monotony. And it’s addictive as a result.
10. The Trouble with Coming Home
Coming home is often the hardest part of travelling.
It isn’t easy to step back from the road into the life you left such a long time ago.
You’ve had such an epic experience, but home feels exactly the same as how you left it. Again, it’s difficult to reconcile that disparity.
In fact, it’s so difficult that the most logical step seems to be to go travelling again straight away! You’ll never want to travel more than when you first get back home.
Are you addicted to travel?
There you have it: 10 factors that I think play a role in why people get addicted to travel.
In my opinion, travelling is one of the greatest ways to spend your time. I’ve never felt happier than I have done on the road; in spite of the challenges that arise, I don’t regret for one instant my decision to do it.
As we’ve seen, a host of positive outcomes stem the choice to go travelling. Any single one of them could play its role in why the travel bug is felt so strongly, by so many people, around the world.
Hopefully, it’s inspired you to give it a shot, if you’re not already an addict!
Now it’d be great to hear from you. What are your thoughts if you’ve been travelling already? What do you think makes travel so addictive? For anyone yet to do it, what are the main reasons you want to go? Drop a comment below to let us know!
Author: Danny Newman
Bio: Danny Newman is currently writing and travelling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing.
Check out his gift guide: 100 Best Gifts for RV Owners
Hi, I’m Rachel!
Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments! Read more...