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  • Noémie Bourdin-Habert

Is traveling a holiday ? (en)

Oh, traveling... I have been on the road for the last eleven months now.

Eleven months of discovery, learning, contemplation, exploration and joy. And also, even if it sounds unappreciative, eleven months that do contain some tiredness, frustration, disappointment, and anger. I hear the voices around our traveling project. Some are surprised, some are thrilled, some are curious, some are envious, some don’t get it, some find it meaningless, some see it as a holiday, others believe we’re running away, getting lazy or searching something that doesn’t exist. But who actually knows what it is like to travel for an undefined period of time, over the course of several months or years, without setting an end date or an end location? Few. Too few. Stuck in a comfort zone, where career, salary, possessions only get better every year, who has the courage to sell it all, end it all, put it all behind, and leave for the absolute unknown? Who has the guts to live their passions fully, take a break, spend all savings, live differently and start again from scratch?

Few. Very few. Well. I would love to be able to say : traveling is amazing, I am thrilled every day, and I am already saddened to know I will have to go back to work one day. But it would not be the exact truth. The truth is that traveling has its wonderful days. And it’s lousy ones. There are moments we see all the beauty of the world, and moments we face but its ugliness. There are moments we’re energetic, and moments we are tired. Because traveling is not a holiday. And within the traveling, there are times we actually need a holiday. I am pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I am spending everything I saved in over 10 years of work. I am seeing the world as it is, and this sometimes means the dirt, the infinite misery, the lack of culture, the disparities, the amounts of plastic that humans leave behind, the hostility, the extremism of religions, the dictatorship, the restrictions, the handicap, the illness, the narcissism, the materialism, the waste... So yes, fortunately, I travel in areas where I can see among the most beautiful and untouched jungle, blue waters, kindness, or elegance. But it is not everyday nor everywhere. Traveling on the long run, without having set either an end date or even a country to settle down, means doubting on a daily basis, questioning yourself at all times, dealing with worries because your savings drop each month. It also means not fulfilling some of your true passions, not playing music, not reading the books you would like, or not doing much sports. It means getting older faster from the jet lags or the long dirty journeys, loosing some fitness from of the change of food, the air pollution or the agenda, getting outdated in terms of culture, technologies, or even your own job. You will never hear me say though that traveling is harder than working or less fun. But the reality is that I have had fascinating jobs, and I have always been passionate about my work life. So in fact, yes, I often miss working. Long-term traveling is a choice and it is fully assumed, but it is nothing but holidays. It is a temporary way of life that allows me to develop new qualities and skills, that opens my mind, and that motivates me a little more everyday to make a difference in this world. It is like going back to school of life, in some ways.

Those who have done it get it. Those who will do it will understand. And those who would love to do it but really have no way to, they know. And in fact, it doesn't need to be understood. But, those who are stuck in their lives, using their careers, kids, possessions, clients, or obligations as an alibi to never get out of their comfort zones, never mind them or their opinion. When the day comes to look back, I know I will have lived the thrill, whatever the outcome. But life is too short for me to have to justify my choices. I have left my country eleven months ago and I will keep traveling for an undefined number of months more, at my own expenses and risks. And every day, I know how lucky this is. But if you’re somewhat wondering if it is worth doing it, then just try and do it. If you actually wonder, you may already know the answer.


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