Personal, Travel Motivation / Updated on

Despite Feeling Guilty for Traveling, Sometimes You Just Have to Move On

I’ve visited ten countries in the past four years. It’s not an astronomical number, but that’s because I travel slowly. In fact, I’m inclined to just call it sporadic migration.

I spent two-and-a-half years between Australia and New Zealand, followed by a year in Asia, which somehow blended into six months in America. It’s strange to be back in my home country, but I’m here for a reason.

After spending three holiday seasons in separation from my family, I vowed to make an appearance at home for the 2013 festivities. I have a small family and we’re tight knit, so my presence, or absence, is a big deal.

On the ferry to Auckland, NZ

On the ferry to Auckland, NZ

The strange part, though, is that my return “home” was not a return to my home at all. My mother retired to Asheville, North Carolina, and that’s where I would spend the holidays (and then the following indeterminate amount of time) reconnecting with my family. I was to be here with purpose, and I would be able to grow my blog from a stationary location, while crafting cocktails (my “other” job) in a town that has received national attention as an emerging food and drink destination.

The fact is, though, in the four years prior to my return to the United States, I hadn’t seen my family for more than a grand total of six weeks. My mother, sister and I traveled through Australia for two weeks, and then I returned to New England for four in the face of a family emergency.

The rest of my four years was spent living out of a backpack, jet-setting from country to country, and living life on a whim on the opposite side of the world.

I’m wildly grateful for the lifestyle that I’ve lead, but somehow, I’m left feeling contrite.

Longtail Boat in Tonsai, Thailand

On a longtail Boat in Tonsai, Thailand

Feeling Guilty for Traveling

Am I selfish for traveling? With such a tight-knit family, it seems inconsiderate to abandon the people I love for such a long period of time. I’ve been on my own journey, learning about myself and the world, developing a career, and working towards my goals. But somehow, my family, the most important thing in the world to me, played very little of a role in all that.

I feel guilty for traveling.

It’s not really the traveling, though, but rather the act leaving. And I question–is that simply something that we, as people, must do, or is our own journey disguised as egotism? Are we all required to leave the ones we love in an attempt to better find and understand our place in the world? And, if so, to what extent?

Sunrise in Sapa, Vietnam

The sun rises over the rice fields of Sapa, in northern Vietnam.

In the face of the aforementioned inconsideration, I’m forced with further decisions to make: Asheville is a spirited and eccentric town, with inherent beauty harnessed by the rolling green of the Pisgah National Forest. But, for many reasons, it simply isn’t for me, and I must come to terms with the guilt of leaving my family once again, in search of greener pastures and greater adventures.

All people have responsibilities to tend to, most of which are the foundation of a settled life. An office job, a mortgage and car payments all pay tribute to this list. More significant, though, are the family and friends who we rely on and who rely on us. In shedding oneself of the former, more superficial responsibilities, one also sheds themselves of the more consequential latter.

It’s a sacrifice that travelers must make.

Sullivan's Island, Charleston, SC

On the beach at Sullivan’s Island, Charleston, SC

Why It’s Important to Move On

April 5th, 2010 was a major turning point in my life. It was the day I flew to Australia with a one-way ticket, when I acted on my promise to no longer continue living out a life I didn’t enjoy. I vowed to turn my days into something of a story, and one that I would be able to recount with great fondness. The more time I spend in Asheville, though, the less fond I am of my story, and the more reason I’m given to take off once again, on a quest to write more pages in my story.

My mother is here in Asheville, though, and her presence has been momentous. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to go out for a coffee, watch a movie together, or go for a hike in the woods. Reconnecting with her has been deeply meaningful, but my own sanity is at stake.

Tropical Laos

The tropics of Laos

I don’t believe in fighting the signs. Indicators point our lives in different directions, and trying to fight them, for the sake of staying in one place, seems counterproductive. We must take hints from the world around us. If our lives are filled with contempt and monotony, there is little point in living out that life.

Sometimes, we just have to move on.

Unfortunately, the things I’m in search of simply aren’t found in this place, so with the last of my accommodation paid for and a bus ticket in hand, I swallow my guilt, and move forward, in search of new places which can provide a lifestyle more suitable to my dreams and passions.

READ NEXT: How I Became a Man Without a Home

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