Join the club.
I’m one of those people. I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states (Alaska, Hawaii, Maine are the missing 3, in case you’re wondering), and have been to every major city in the U.S. Well, I don’t think I’ve visited Memphis, TN – but aside from that city by the Mississippi River, I’ve been to every other major one.
Canada? Been to 6 provinces.
Outside of North America? Been to Europe and Asia (including both China and India).
So, all told, I think I’m someone who has enough experience to have an informed opinion on the value of travel for the average person. And what is that opinion?
Well, I think traveling is overrated by many. As is being “location-independent” (I’ll get to that later).
Traveling is Overrated
So, if I obviously like to travel, why do I think it’s overrated by some? Why am I bringing it up here in a personal finance-oriented blog?
Well, I think traveling is overrated by certain people because its allure causes people to spend a lot of money they probably can’t afford to. Almost as if some folks think that they become much wiser, more worthy of status by virtue of having seen famous or even exotic locales in the world. I bring this up because so many people either spend a lot of money on traveling, or aspire to live a life full of constant traveling.
Not that there is anything wrong with traveling a lot. Who am I to judge? Again, I like traveling (though I have little time for it now). However, some people seem to view traveling as some kind of necessary expense. As if, everybody deserves a vacation annually where they fly somewhere. No, nobody deserves any such thing. It’s a want, not a need.
Also, traveling is seen by a few folks I’ve talked to as either A) an expense that is different than other forms of entertainment, and B) a status symbol they can brag about. To me, traveling is something done for fun – meaning, it’s done for entertainment. Just like some folks might drop money on seeing movies, buying season tickets to their favorite sports team, or other similar forms of fun – traveling is no different. It isn’t more noble, it isn’t purely “educational”, etc – it’s entertainment.
In terms of the status symbol aspect to traveling, I’ve had a few folks brag to me over the years, with pride, about places that they visited. Almost as if they are somehow more worldly or sophisticated for having gone somewhere. I suspect that there is an element of keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to traveling, where people are willing to spend money traveling in some part (whether they admit it to themselves or not) that they can brag about having been different places.
Bottom line: I certainly like traveling, have done a lot of it, and understand why it is fun to many. But let’s be realistic, it’s purely entertainment, is not truly necessary, doesn’t make us more sophisticated, and is not worth getting competitive over to impress others and say you’ve been places.
Much like with traveling, there seems to be an allure to being location independent. However, this is probably with a much smaller subset of the population. The blogging community seems to have a disproportionate number of these folks. There are many people who make a living online or with jobs that can be done at any location, at any time. Simply have Internet access and make some phone calls, and you’re good to go!
The thing is, when the dream of this type of lifestyle is “sold” or at least popularized, it might not be painting a complete picture. The thing is, if you want to be a parent and have a family, can you really be a location-independent nomad? Really?
No, not really. Kids go to school, have friends, and need to be well adjusted. Spouses get used to an area, make friends, and often work “traditional” jobs. A home might even be purchased. Or not, but is that a realistic long-term life? Having total mobility without any strings attached?
Maybe for some, it just might work. But for most people, I don’t think so.
Bottom Line: So when I read about location independence and the ability to work anywhere and travel anywhere, based on making an online living, I just smile. I hope people think twice about taking such actions. Personally, I would prioritize financial independence over location independence.
My Questions for You
Do you think that traveling is purely entertainment, or do you think that it’s different kind of expense?
Do you see many people trying “keep up with the Joneses” in terms of where they have traveled, getting competitive about it (even if not overtly)?
What do you think about the whole concept of “location independence”?