On Identity And Travel

I want to see it all.
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Josh Willink

In this world we live in, the word ‘identity’ can mean so many things. It can be your race, your nationality, your religion, your orientation. You can identify with different groups of people who have a shared interest in something, or a profession.

For instance, I identify as a Caucasian American. I am a graphic designer. I am a woman. I am an artist. I am a Californian. These are all things I identify as. They categorize me and put me in a group. I am a part of those groups. Those are people like me. However, there is one thing I consider myself to be above all else:

I identify as a traveler.

That’s silly, you might say. Everybody travels from time to time. We’re all travelers. It’s possible that this is true. Anybody who has so much as gone on a weekend road trip to a nearby city is, technically, a traveler. However, I feel that to identify as a traveler specifically, it goes a little deeper than that.

To really be a traveler is more of a state of mind than anything else. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think there is anything wrong with not being a traveler. I have previously written about how I’m not much of a fan of the traveler vs. tourist attitude that I hear so much about. It really doesn’t matter. You should do what makes you happy in life.

That being said, there is definitely a difference in attitude between people who identify as travelers and everybody else, at least to me.

A traveler is a person who thinks about traveling all the time. They prioritize travel above other things in their life. They make sacrifices in order to travel. They daydream about travel when they aren’t on the road. They make changes in their lives in order to fit their lives around travel, rather than fitting travel into their lives. A traveler isn’t necessarily somebody who is on the road full time.

Perhaps this person only gets to go on a couple trips a year. However, a traveler is somebody who is always thinking about their next journey, always planning, always looking for opportunities to go on an adventure.

“It’s a constant, insatiable desire to be on the move, to go on new adventures and to see and experience new things.”

For me, it’s a huge part of who I am and it dictates decisions I make in life. For instance, I don’t work for companies who don’t allow time off for travel. My current job is awesome and totally understands my need to go on adventures (with proper notice, of course), but I’ve worked at places that made it really difficult to even take off one week a year to go somewhere. I didn’t last there.

Travel is important to me. It’s a big part of my life and it’s a big part of who I am. If I’m at a party and everybody starts talking about the football game, I glaze over and go find a dog to pet or a bowl of chips to eat from. However, if somebody mentions travel, I light up. I could talk about it for hours. I love telling people about my adventures, and I love hearing about their adventures as well. Where have they been? Where are they planning to go next? Have we been to any of the same places? I absolutely love it.

I subscribe to travel magazines. I follow travel blogs. I write a travel blog. I read books by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed. I subscribe to Airfare Watchdog because you never know when a screaming deal for a weekend getaway might present itself.

That’s what makes me a traveler. It’s that constant, insatiable desire to be on the move, to go on new adventures, to see and experience new things. It means that no matter how many places I go, I’ll never be truly satisfied because there is always another place to go, another awesome thing to experience. I want to see it all.

If you’re not a traveler like me, that’s okay. For some people, it’s exhausting. Some people would rather hang out near home or just go on vacations to a resort where they can sip cocktails by a pool. That’s totally cool and valid as well, and I like doing those things, too.

But only fellow travelers will understand my insatiable desire to see more, to do more.

You can read more from Heather Hopkins on her blog.

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