Travelers vs. Non-Travelers – Will We Ever Understand Each Other?

I would rather be a failure at something I love to do than a success at something I hate.

George Burns

I rarely visit my home country. Maybe once a year or even less. The reason being, the people I am surrounded by (mostly non-travelers) often try to bring me down and discourage me to travel by saying:

A girl is admiring Admiring the scenery of Zhangjiajie Mountains in Hunan, China.
Admiring the scenery of Zhangjiajie Mountains in Hunan, China

“You are already 24. It’s time to start a family. Time passes by and you don’t get any younger”.  – C’mon people, 24 isn’t that old! I prefer to be a happy 50-year-old single woman with beautiful travel memories rather than a miserable young wife and unfulfilled mother.

“Everyone around you is getting married or pregnant and you just… travel”. – I can still get their lives, but they can’t have mine. I bet they would love to swap with me sometimes.

“You must be feeling so lonely there. Poor girl!” – There is no time to be lonely. You are surrounded by warm and friendly people who are sometimes like a family to you!

A girl sitting on a bamboo boat Yangshuo River
Yangshuo River, Guangxi Province, China

It sucks when your family and friends don’t get your travel spirit. It hurts even more when they don’t even support you and seem to be against you and your travel passion. I am still wondering if it’s a simple jealousy or something else hidden behind it – dissatisfaction with their own lives and the lack of fulfilment in their existence.

A girl is exploring Longji Terraced Fields in Guangxi Province
Exploring Longji Terraced Fields in Guangxi Province

“You’re the lucky one. Being on a holiday all the time must feel awesome” they say. What they don’t know is that I’m not on a holiday. Part-time blogging and traveling combined with working full-time as a foreign teacher  is a hard job, often exhausting. I have plenty of responsibilities to fulfil and that keeps me busy all the time.

A girl is sitting at the Great Wall of China
Dreaming big at the Great Wall of China

When I go home I often get asked many questions regarding my live and travels in Asia, some of them are just way too funny or silly.

“Is that true that Asian boys have small penises?” (this question rocks!)

Most of people I meet when being in Poland want to talk money – how much I spend, how much I earn, how beneficial blogging is. I don’t mind it at all and I totally understand it. However, I easily get frustrated when they start asking if I am saving money for my retirement or how I am going to get financially ready for the future if I keep “wasting my money on pleasures”, etc. What they probably don’t know is that I spend less on my weekly travels than they spend on cocktails and drinks on Friday and Saturday nights.

A girl is smiling Huashan Mountains
Huashan Mountains, Xi’an.

The longer you live and travel in Asia, the less common topics you have with your European friends. It’s hard to speak the same language again. At least I find it challenging. While I am talking about how amazing it felt to be watching the sunset over Koh Phangan Island in Thailand, they are thinking of what dress they should wear tonight. When I am telling them stories of how amazing it was to live like a local in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and explore the temples of Angkor Wat, they tell me how they struggled to get a C for their exams. We are still the same, but so different.

I often wonder if we, world explorers and adventure hunters, will be ever understood by 9-to-5 job people. Why is it so difficult for them to get us?  Because they never felt the way we did. They never left their comfort zones and got lost. Never carried their backpacks, never talked to a stranger…

A girl is riding an elephant
Looking for more adventures in Sri Lanka

Therefore, I’m so glad to be a traveler and blogger, and stay connected with fellow travel writers. Being a part of the travel community gives me such a strength to carry on traveling. Knowing that there are more people like me out there who aren’t afraid of exploring the world and sharing their memories with others , keeps me going and makes me the happiest person ever!

Travelers vs. Non-Travelers – Will We Ever Understand Each Other?

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

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  • I suspect they will never get your way of thinking. You are happy and that is the important thing in life. I will be 48 next month and it has taken me a long time to find something that makes me happy. Those people who conform because they feel that is the norm will always end up feel dissatisfied with everything.

    • Thank you Steve. You’re right. I’m done pleasing people. It’s nearly impossible to do some. At the end of the day, I don’t want to end up feeling dissatisfied with my life and decisions I’ve made.

    • Both you guys are really great , living the dream . I have lived for the past 5 years in the Philippines and now for 6 months in Thailand and even though i travel i wish i could find the courage to do what you do . I am from Australia 36 year old male and love to get around but i keep getting bogged down with my work . Reading about your adventures really gets me thinking about what i should be doing instead of everyday stress of working . I try to teach these people a new skill and give them a wage every week but i feel i sacrifice my life sometimes . I dont mean to sound rude but sometimes i feel i need more . How i would love to follow in your footsteps . Keep up the great blogs , i only just found them bye accident and have been enjoying all the tails you two have been through . I see the dates are from last year so i dont expect a reply but if one of you read this i just thank you for time to put all your good times out there for the rest of us to be inspired and for something to strive for . Thank you

  • So true. Most people seem to think I did nothing all day but lay on a beach or in a hammock, etc, during my time traveling. To be fair, there definitely were a few days like that, but not all of them. Like you, most of my time in Asia was spent working to pay for those days on the beach or in the hammock.

  • Totally agree with the post, I feel 100% identify, except because I just turn 27 and the pressure increase! :P

    Our family/friends cannot understand us. We are a new generation, the digital nomads! this is something unexplainable for them. They are not yet jealous coz they cannot understand the greatness of our freedom!

    Don’t discourage, you are never too old/young to do anything! Especially for traveling and enjoy the life without limits!

    • Yes, the pressure increases with your age, that’s for sure. I don’t wanna know what’s gonna happen when I turn 30 (hopefully it’s not gonna be soon, ufff, what a relief! :P). So true, it takes time to understand us – digital nomads so we should be more patient :). So true- it’s never too late or too early to start your adventures! Thanks Noelia for such inspiring comment! Miss you x

  • I really enjoyed this post! Luckily as a guy, I don’t get the whole getting married, starting a family lecture from my family – even less so because I’m gay!

    Do I understand non-travellers? Of course I do. I’m the only one in my family who travels long-term, although my mum and brother love going to new places. My dad has never left the UK. I’m lucky that my family are supportive.

    Do I understand non-travellers who judge travellers? No. I don’t get why people judge how others live. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, doing what you love, and staying safe, then what’s the problem?

    And do Asian boys have small penises? Well, not as big as European boys perhaps, but hey, I’ve been living in Asia for over three years now, so Asian guys are doing something right ;)

    • Hey Tom! You have no idea how funny your comment is (especially the last phrase). I am still laughing out loud :), seriously. You rock! I’m so happy your family turned out to be so supportive. This is actually what I need right now, but it’s not happening. BIG TIME. I also think that people have no right to judge how others live, but they often do and they don’t care about it. As for the Asian guys, thanks for letting us know :)x

    • ““Is that true that Asian boys have small penises?” (THIS question rocks!)”
      What a racist stereotype. I sometimes wonder if Europeans are this way

  • Ah, yes, I can definitely relate! I think one of the keys to us understanding each other is recognizing that different things make us happy. As long as everyone is truly happy doing whatever they’re doing, that’s enough for me. What makes it challenging is when we can’t imagine ever being happy living the way the other person lives, so we convince ourselves that they can’t possibly be happy with that life either, and we impose our own beliefs and preferences on them.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Amy. I guess most of travelers can relate. Thanks for sharing, great point.

  • You undoubtedly have a lot of differences now that you’ve been away for so long. But, when it comes down to it – and here’s where I connect Asia to the rest of the world – I think the Dalai Lama said it best when he stated, at our core, all anyone wants is to just be happy. And people who do not travel are just expressing to you what would make them happy.

    Keep smiling. :)

    • I do keep smiling Jason, always!! Jordin Sparks say that if you don’t laugh or smile at least 20 times a day – it hasn’t been a good day:)! Yes, being away from home for such a long period of time makes everything so different. Me and my friends have less and less to talk about and time flies! We should all do what makes us happy – so true :)

  • This is very true Agness! I’ve been a 9-5er for the last 5 years but have travelled twice for long periods of time so I can see both sides to the argument. As the office worker, I would say that you’re right – a lot of it is resentment and jealousy that they can’t have the same opportunities i.e. they have children/big responsibilities etc and feel trapped by them. My mum, for example, loves that I travel but is jealous because, unfortunately, when she was growing up, she didn’t have the same opportunities as we have today…so she wants to ‘travel through me’ :)
    As a traveller I would say that despite our responsibilities with writing, working, living etc, we are seen to be on a ‘permanent holiday’ and not everyone can find it in their hearts to be happy for us and see how much hard work we put into living the dream :s It’s a difficult pill to swallow from either side!

    • Thank you Toni for sharing. You made a great point here. I wish my mom was more supportive, but she’s trying her best :). So true, that’s how non-travelers see us – happy people with endless holiday forgetting about how hard we work to be where we are and to do what we do.

  • I think all experiences in life help us learn and grow as people. Those that are stagnant in life aren’t doing a lot of growing and therefore aren’t that understanding of different lifestyles. Kuddos to you for doing what you love and taking chances!

    • Thanks Sonja. That’s so true. Every day is a great lesson to learn, especially when you travel.

  • Ah, the beauty of different views. In some ways, I’m a little bit thankful. If everyone had the same opinion, there’d be way too many travellers in the world lol.

  • Agness, I love this article! I think you should do whatever makes you happy. While I have a sort of 9-5 job at the moment (doing internship), I know I would rather be out there exploring like you. Your life is an amazing life, let people talk, you’re the one enjoying it!
    I also love that opening quote! Keep doing what you doing Agness, maybe your friends and family will finally get it one day, maybe not, either way you get to be happy :D

    • Thank you Aggy, you’ve been incredibly supportive recently, so many thanks for these kind words. I’m also working full-time in China right now at the kindergarten, but I use every single day off to travel and explore and that really makes me happy. I wish I could just travel, but I can’t afford to do it all year long :(.

  • You’ve made some great points here Agness. It does seem to stem from two different mindsets! As long as everyone is respectful, we can agree to enjoy our different lifestyles….but I think sometimes people can be a bit closeminded!

    • Yep, so true. Being close-minded is the result of not going anywhere and not seeing anything I guess.

  • great post and I agree its hard for non-travellers to relate or understand your passion for travelling.
    For soe people settling down and having kids is important and for others travelling til they are 100 is important..
    Different values.

    • Yes, it’s sometimes never ending story to please them. Settling down and having a family is also important to me, but right now I just want to enjoy my travels, keep exploring the world and look for more adventures! :)

  • Excellent post, Agness! I never realized how unsupportive people can be of traveling until recently. I think a lot of it stems from either jealousy or the fact that most people never see traveling as an option for them. Because of this, a lot of people aren’t supportive. I’ve decided that I’m done trying to please others. I need to do what makes me happy . :)

    • Thanks Emily. Your comment really made me smile. It’s so true – we shouldn’t worry about what people say to us, we’re all different and what really matters is that we are happy with our lives and that’s it!

  • I’ve always felt it was weird that I had to explain wanderlust to people. Yeah, I want a couch and a nice set of pots and pans, but I also want to see the Taj Mahal, and if I have to pick one or the other, well, it’s pretty simple. I don’t mind them living their life at home with friends and family, since that can be fun too, but if they don’t see the value of seeing the world, then it’s hard to have a worthwhile conversation with them.

    And it’s sad growing apart from home. The longer you’re away, the less important it becomes. You know your friends less well, and once they start getting married, they’re a lot busier than they used to be, and going home gets a little lonelier every time. And that’s why once you start traveling frequently, it’s usually a one-way road to eternal wanderlust.

    • So true. I actually couldn’t agree more with what you are saying here. I have already noticed how hard going home is and how lonely you can feel surrounded by people who cannot understand the world you are lIving in. My couch and daily newspaper need to wait a little bit longer… :)

  • Thanks for the post agness. I am struggling at the moment. I have just returned from a 7 month rtw trip and have come back to a 9 – 5 job. It pays really well, but i feel aas though thats part of the problem i feel trapped because it pays well even though its not what i want to do!

    • Jenn, I can only imagine what you must be feeling right now, but chin up! I guess you have already started planning your next trip and you look forward to it ;). I am always here if you feel like nobody understands you x

  • Interesting question. I think some people are never meant to really understand each other. For example, I have known expats in Tokyo who live for the money…and when they get it (which they do, in bucketloads), they still want more, and the “trophy bride” (whatever that is lol) and the newest BMW…and the list goes on. While I understand what motivates people like that, my values are so different, I never want to BE like that. And those guys probably don’t want to be like me, either.

    Full-time travel is another value. It’s a life choice. And it is usually acquired in exchange for stability. Or at least that’s what “stable” married people with kids back home usually tell me. They know why I love to travel. And some of them probably envy my lifestyle from time to time, but they don’t want to BE like me.

    So, no, we will never fully see eye to eye. They don’t really value my existence as being “mature,” and I don’t really see what they do as anything except repopulating the planet in their secure nest. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — they are happy in that life. But I can’t help thinking, “Why don’t you want to see and learn more?” and I’m sure they are thinking, “Why can’t you be happy with less and just stay here?”

    I think I’ll stick to my path of seeing and learning more :) Glad to know people like you guys are doing the same :)

    • Thanks Mike a lot for this comment. I am a lot like you
      – never actually paid much attention to money and the more I travel, the less I need and the more I want to share and it is a fantastic feeling. We all should collect moments, not things. I do really understand people who decide to devote their lives to their jobs and careers, but for some reason they do not get me. Maybe you are right and some people are not meant to understand each other…

  • niestety zawiść jest narodową cechą Polaków, a ta o podróże to już w ogóle. I to wcale nie musza być podróże po Azji, wystarczy dobre wyłapywanie promocji na tanie linie i latanie za grosze na weekendy to tu to tam (co w ogólnym rozrachunku wychodzi taniej niż noc na mieście albo wypad na zakupy), a już jest się na językach wszystkich. Ja pracuję na etacie, codziennie 8 godzin, kokosów nie zarabiam, a i tak mam czas i kasę na podróże. I to ludzi boli, lepiej ponarzekać nad swoim losem i poobgadywać innych niż ogarnąć się i zacząć coś konstruktywnego robić ze swoim życiem. Na słowa “jak ja ci zazdroszczę” mam już alergię i reaguję mini agresją ;)
    a co do ustatkowania się, zakładania rodziny itp – rozumiem aż za dobrze. za rok mi 30 stuknie, a nie planuję w najbliższej przyszłości zmieniać swojego życia. Ludzie na wszystkich patrzą swoimi kategoriami, a że im odpowiada siedzenie w domu i spędzanie czasu na oglądaniu durnych programów nie znaczy, że wszyscy tak mają. Nie dla każdego spełnienie = rodzina, dzieci, mieszkanie na kredyt, dla innych (jak Ty czy ja) są to podróże. ale cieżko to innym przetłumaczyc niestety… moja rada – olej to co inni myślą i rób swoje! bo to w końcu Twoje życie i Twoje wspomnienia na stare lata!

    • Hej Kami, dzięki wielkie za komentarz. Zgadzam się, że wielu ludzi zazdrości innym wszystkiego, a sami nic nie zrobią, aby zmienić swoje życie. Nie zamierzam oczywiście przestawać podróżować, ani zmieniać swojego życia dla innych, bo spełniam się w 100% i jestem szczęśliwa. Zrozumieć chyba może nas tylko ten, co sam podróżuje :).

  • I loved this post. A lot!

    Since I’ve been back from my travels I’ve felt a lot more disconnected from friends and acquaintances who are moving forwards with their lives in that “get job, settle down, have kids – done” route, whilst I’m further away than ever from that. And happily that’s through choice! But it is a shame to start feeling that you have less and less in common with the people you know.

    Thankfully I haven’t really felt that pressure from friends/family yet that I should be “growing up” or however they may phrase it, but I also get the feeling it won’t be too long haha…

    Really funny timing with this post on a personal level too, as I was just looking through the “gift list” for a friends’ wedding I’m going to next month, and – with my jaw on the floor – realised how different we are now. I’m really glad they are happy, but I’m personally happy being a traveller (whenever I can) ha! :)

  • H Agness: i really enjoyed your post, and I feel your pain.

    I’ve always gone against the grain when it comes to the norm. But I’ve always lived a rich life (experience-wise) with limited resources. I chose to be childless, left corp life 20 years ago to go freelance and have never looked back. You’ll find that as you go thru life, your compadres and confidantes will change as you grow, experience life, and your priorities continue to evolve. My advice is just to continue following your heart. You are likely inspiring others more than you know.

    • Story of my life Doreen. People keep saying I’m so childish and will never grow up because of my travels. Of course I’m going to continue following my heart. I have always been doing that and I’ll never stop. Thanks a lot for those words. They made me smile. Sending my love from sunny Macau.

  • Great writing, Agness. If I would sign it, it would be 100% my true story :) I guess non-travelers are the same around the world.

    • True. Thanks a lot. I’m glad people agree and relate to what I’ve written and been feeling for a long long time :).

  • I love this post Agness – so many great and true points. I’m a traveller but also a “normal” working girl and try to handle both “careers” as good as possible. As I have invested so many hours of my young life into my Master Degree, I’m not ready yet to give it all up for being a digital nomad. However, I think you’re doing the exact right thing and I love your way of life!

    • Thank you Anita. You don’t need to give up on your career to be happy and travel. Looking at you have been doing, I am certainly sure you can manage to combine working with travelling and this is the reason why I’ve been admiring your passion and ambition so much! Keep up being awesome and good luck with your uni!

  • Dan and I get this all the time. I think especially because we’re already married, people just don’t understand why we wouldn’t want to settle down and decorate a house and start having kids, because we’re so lucky to be able to start so young! I tend to think they just have our best interests in mind and just don’t understand the travel bug yet. So true what you said about spending less on our travels than a lot of people back home spend on weekend cocktails! But like you said, it’s not about conforming to how other people think you should be living your life-good for you for doing more than most people ever dream of!

    • True, so people just don’t understand the bug yet. Once they try it, they would never stop, I’m so sure about it :). Thank you so much for sharing x

  • Loved this post, Agness! It’s so true that many society people don’t know how to perceive those of us who travel on a normal basis… who strive to make it our lives. Being back in Western society, it’s something I struggle with and a big part of it isn’t only people I know, but the mass consciousness of my environment. People throw money around like it’s nothing and on futile pleasures. They chastise those who don’t tip 20% because you waiter/waitress is working hard at a job they at least get minimum wage for. They’re wasteful with printing on paper or using many plastic bags for groceries. I just see so much excess. Travel has totally readjusted my life and priorities to spend for necessary and practical things, value the simple but essential.

    • Story of my life Christine… So happy to hear there are people like me out there… :). I always struggle with that being back home so let’s share the pain together… :)

  • I just turned 27 and started freaking out a little about being this age and single, then I look at people who are married with kids and realize that, at least right now, I want nothing to do with that. It looks so boring! I’m just not ready to stop being selfish.

    My favorite quote that I think definitely applies here: “‘Everyone needs to find their path in life … there are many influences that can pull you one way or the other, there will always be someone that tells you that you are too young, or too old, or too inexperienced, but you have to follow your instincts.”

    • Great quote Kristin! I’m 24 and I started worrying about being single as well. Sometimes I feel like I need someone by my side and then I go to another country, have a nice glass of red wine, go sightseeing, meet amazing people and think “Am I really to settle down!? Hell NO!” :)

  • I can definitely relate to your experiences! Some people back home never understood why I chose to leave the UK instead of focusing on career. There’s an attitude among my parents’ friends that I’ll regret not settling down early and saving for a pension (yeah right?!) and some of my friends seem resentful that I left. Fortunately my family is super supportive. But I guess it goes both ways. They don’t understand my love of travel; I don’t understand how anyone can be happy being in the same place and doing/seeing the same things every day. What is comes down to is different things make different people happy. I always respect their choices, whether I understand them or not, and lucky (most) people back home respect mine too.

    Just keep doing what makes you happy girl, regardless of what people say!

    • Hi Charlie. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. I’m so happy your family’s so supportive. I agree with everything you are saying. People don’t get the way you live and you can’t understand how their lives can be so boring. I have the same feeling. The daily routine would just kill me :). I do carry on travelling as this is what I love and what makes me a happy girl! :):)

  • And here I was…thinking Europeans completely supported the long holiday, nomadic lifestyle! Silly American:-) I applaud you for doing what you love, and you’ll meet people along your journey that admire and support what you do! xx

    • LOL, thanks Jess. I do always meet people along my adventures that admire and support what I am doing and it’s a great feeling when I chat with them and travel :).

  • I think times are different now. More people do part time work or work from home jobs in comparison to 9 to 5 the previous generations are used to. So perhaps they can’t fully grasp the idea of working in an Asian country and traveling around the world. They could be genuinely concerned about you but lack of understanding of what’s happening in other parts of the world must make them feel at a lost. What I learned from traveling is, you start seeing the world in a whole new perspective. Wish non-travelers can at least give it a thought sometimes.

    • I agree Salika. Times are different now and people do struggle to fully grasp the idea of working in an Asian country and travelling around the world. We should just do our thing without looking at those who have no idea how it feels to be a world explorer :).

  • Totally agree, but we should all understand how each other want to live – if we all lived life the same it would be really boring! The grass is always greener on the other side, for people on both arguments. I miss things from home but it’s worth it to do what I do. I’m sure if people who complain that our jobs are easy as travellers and if they actually did them they might not find them so easy…!

    • Exactly Sarah. I am so glad to meet you in person because I know how similar we are and how we love to explore this world. So true with the grass:).

  • I think we can if we stop thinking of ourselves as travelers and non travelers. Everyone travels in their own way.
    Both travelers and non travelers made a choice. Yours (and mine) was to travel the world. Theirs was to live the life they are living. Even if they haven’t made a conscious choice they still made that choice. Their way of life is not better or worse than ours, just different. And there will always be a gap when talking to them about the things you experience because their world is a lot smaller than yours, but that doesn’t mean they are in any way unhappy or jealous. Maybe a few are but not all. Some people just don’t feel the need to do what we do and there is nothing wrong with that.
    I understand that it gets super annoying when people constantly ask those questions, maybe it has to do with Polish culture? Most people in Holland think it’s really great what we are doing. The only that keeps asking if I’m thinking about my retirement is my mum!

  • HI Agness, this is really an interesting subject. I think it belongs to universal issue of non-conformist vs. conformist. Travelers fall in the non-conformist category. They have their own minds, they do what will make them grow and happy regardless of the dictate of their culture and society. People on the other side may not understand you, but then that’s their problem. Kudos for you for being non-conformist.

  • Oh heavens! Keep traveling! Please! My husband and I married young and had kids young. And while I wouldn’t trade my life with him or my great kids for anything, I wish we had traveled more before we had had those great kids. Also, I have read over and over again about how money can make a person happy, it’s what you spend it on that makes you happy. That big screen TV? Maybe a couple of weeks. That great vacation? That can keep you happy for years. Traveling is like a drug I think. The more you see, the more you realize how big the world is and how much more you NEED to see! Happy travels friends!

    • True, that’s why I want to travel now when I am still young and have no kids, although I am planning to take my kids with me in the future so they can explore the world as I am now. Travelling is so addictive, I agree. The more you see, they more you want to explore and nobody and nothing can stop you. I will do my best to travel as long as I can :). Thanks for those kinds words Kelly!

  • I get those questions all the time, especially the ones about settling down at some point and not getting any younger (I wish I was 24 like you :) ).
    I know people that don’t understand my choice & way of living and others that think that what I’m doing is fantastic. I guess there will never be the perfect balance, people with different priorities in life won’t ever fully understand our choices.
    Just keep doing what you feel! :)

    • That is true. It is so hard to please everyone nowadays :(. So true, that is why we need to follow our dreams without caring what others say. Right? :)

  • Agness, I love every word of this post! Though we are very fortunate to have the support of our family, there are many that do not understand our choices. I also think it is fair to use this same comparison with non-conformists vs. conformists like another commenter mentioned. I think there is a big misunderstanding that we are just on vacation all the time, but really we have just made an intentional choice to live a specific way and it happens to involve moving around a lot. I think it is wonderful that some people want to live the more traditional 9-5 lifestyle and raise a family, but I don’t believe that everyone who is doing so has chosen that path, but let it happen to them and not made an deliberate choice at all. (And then judge us ;) )

    • Yeah, that’s a huge misunderstanding especially when you are a travel blogger. There are plenty of things we need to deal with on a regular basis. It’s not only about chilling out on the beach, it’s about caring, sharing our experiences and interacting with other travellers. I sometimes can’t handle it so Cez helps me out. We should all do what we love the most and stop judging each other! Thank you so much for sharing x

  • Great post, Agness! You’ve really been able to sum up the difference between the different mindsets. We hear so often, “When are you going to settle down?” and “Don’t you think it’s time to get a real job?” (I am in my early 40s and my partner is in his mid 30s, so for us SOME of the pressure is wearing off as people have started to give up asking! ;)) It’s also hard to listen to those who seem to almost accuse travelers as being on a permanent vacation. That’s so far from the truth. Traveling long-term is actually a lot of work, as you know. Being able to maintain travel as a lifestyle requires a great deal of sacrifice actually. However, it’s also true that we as travelers should take care not to judge those who have chosen a more traditional path. There are many who find their joy staying in one spot (as hard for us to understand as it is for them to understand us). Keep on doing what you do. Build those memories. Learn from those experiences. Live without regrets. Safe travels to you!!

    • I bet it’s more difficult when you are in your 30s and 40s. Although I am much younger than you, I can feel a huge pressure already. Wondering what’s gonna happen in 10 years :). As for blogging and travelling, it is a lot of work, especially when you blog professionally. What I mean professionally is to do it daily, keep in touch with other travellers, using social media and sharing photos/travel tips with others. It’s a hard job and only travel bloggers can understand it.Thank you for sharing and you also travel safely! :-). Sending my love from sunny Macau.

  • Fabulous post Agness.

    We all face life choices and you’ve embraced yours. You are happy, learning everyday and developing a fully rounded character. The people from your home are lost in the day to day trivia which now pales into insignificance.

    I hope that your family and friends learn to be happy that you are happy. As we say “they don’t get it” but hopefully one day they will.

    And 24 is most definitely young for this day and age. I’m 40 and I’ve just got married.

  • Happy to have stumbled across your site!

    I do not think non-travelers will ever understand us. After all, you cannot really get somebody if you have never walked in their shoes. And…not a lot of people in this world would want to walk in my shoes anyways.

    I walk – hitchhike – a heck of a lot of miles on a given day :)

    Anyways, happy and safe travels to you, fellow wanderer. May our roads cross sometime…somewhere :)

    • Hi there. Thanks a lot for the comment. So great to keep in touch. I agree with you that you cannot really get somebody if you have never walked in their shoes :). Hope to meet you on the road! You also have enjoy your travels :).

  • I can relate to this post so much. I experience those annoying questions a lot from my community. Here in my country most people think that a woman’s duty is get married, having children and taking care her family. Thus they don’t understand why I haven’t married yet. I’m 33 yo by they way, you’re 24 and still young. Just ignore those people. It is you to decide what’s the best for your life :)

    • Yep, true. That is what other people told me to do – just ignore those who have never been bitten by a travel bug. You do well and never stop blogging no matter how old you are! Love every single post on your website. By the way, 33 is still young :).

  • Hello Agnes,

    What a great post! I agree with Kelly S exactly. You can have a family and kids later, and when you do you will have much more to offer them. My husband and I chose not to have children and have been married 20 years. Eventually the questions stop – people finally get it that we decided not to have children. However, I have many friends who simply do not understand the NEED to travel. I love what you said about why they don’t get it: “They never left their comfort zones and got lost. Never carried their backpacks, never talked to a stranger…” Thankfully I can say we have talked to strangers in The Grenadines, Punta Cana, Paris, Nice, Eze, Milos, Santorini, Nafplion, Athens, as well as all throughout the US. It is a feeling of learning about another person or culture. I think it will always be travelers vs. non-travelers. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” You go girl!

  • Well written!!!! I completely agree. After my study abroad experience many years ago, we were taught that we could go into reverse culture shock because people just do not understand. I am from a small town. My family thinks it is nice, but they just do not understand. Also, some of my friends may think I am bragging, but in reality, I am following my passion as they follow theirs. Unfortunately for me, I do have a full time job and then travel as much as my vacation allows me. My sister has told me to stop telling her when I book a trip because she just doesn’t care anymore (it might be a jealous thing).

    • Thanks, I’m so happy someone can relate to it:). Keep travelling and don’t care what others say!! ;-)

  • “C’mon people, 24 isn’t that old! I prefer to be a happy 50-year-old single woman with beautiful travel memories rather than a miserable young wife and unfulfilled mother.” Amen to that! I think this quote should be included in the Bible!! Travelling is such an inspirational journey. You collect memories that no one will be able to take away from you! And that, my friend, is worth more than all the money in the world!

  • I think I’m fortunate to live in a country (New Zealand) where travel is valued and almost everyone has travelled to some degree. We are such a small country that almost everyone heads abroad in their twenties at some point!

    • True. I actually met many travelers from New Zealand and they were all adventurous and so open-minded :)

  • Hey Love The Blog Agness!!!! Most confusing things I read unfortunately are about finances…How much did you have when you started wandering? Do you work while you travel? Do you have a trust fund or family $$$? Even at $25. a day, (we hope it was that inexpensive everywhere!) your dough is going to go..So it becomes really necessary to understand for those of us not just going on “vacation” for a month or two, just how much people need, how long and far they might go, and how to gain more $$$ along the way..Work? What Kind?? Available to only certain nationalities?? Need a degree..? How bout TEFL certificate? Did you get one? Most people interested in taking off to backpack RTW tend to fall short because of $$$…What advice and insights on these questions would you offer..? Thanks..=)

  • Agness, thank you for this heartfelt post… You definitely hit the nail on the head on the issue of different people wanting different things for their lives — and beginning to impose that onto others… as if your choice to travel suddenly invalidates their choice to raise a family or vice versa. Maybe people get jealous or just plain insecure — maybe they worry that they are making the wrong decision or something? Maybe they worry for you and your future because it’s so “unusual” or not-the-average thing? Maybe they are trying to protect you? But at the end of the day, you are both adults and responsible for your lives… and you’ve chosen different things and that’s okay. It seems that you understand that, but you’re not the norm, so it’s hard for people to understand you.

    Yes, I am so glad for the community that the internet provides! It really does help one to feel less alone and it’s so nice when you find that people GET IT. We still may be in the minority, but we EXIST! And sometimes that makes all the difference!

    • Thank you Erika so much for your lovely comment. Perhaps, they are trying to protect me, you might be right. Hope to find out this summer :)!! Love your attitude girl x

  • I live abroad, Costa Rica, but don’t get to travel as much as I would like. But I can totally relate to this post. I find that people who don’t step out of comfort zones and open their minds to the world and it’s beauty and possibilities can not understand my wants and thoughts. That is what life is all about though, you find your way and your meaning. Good luck and safe travels!

    • Thanks for your comment. You’re 100% right,it’s all about finding your own way in life. Regardless of what others say. How do you find teaching in Costa Rica? Happy travels to you!

  • Really well written post, I can relate to this so much.
    I’ve been back in Australia a few months since my 4.5 month backpacking through Latin America and I already can notice the difference between my friends and family. I’m lucky in the fact that they are supportive, But they still just don’t get it.
    People often ask me what I’m doing next and when I tell them I’m thinking of just leaving to go travelling again they are like you can’t just go travelling around and live your life in a back pack and im like well… Yes you can and to me that feels like something way more meaningful than sitting working a 9-5 job I hate just to make money to escape those few times a year to travel.

    I can’t wait to get back on the road and be surrounded by like minded people again. I feel like im a bit of an alien at the moment being back home haha

    • Thanks Brendon for sharing. I’m pretty glad you can also relate to this post. Hope you will make it somewhere nice and awesome very soon. I totally understand you :)

  • Great write up! We haven’t started traveling full time yet, but we already notice that we’re starting to have less and less in common with our friends. Good to know that this is normal :-)

    • True. There are gonna be even less and less common interests between you and your friends once you start travelling full-time ;-) and yes, it’s pretty usual :)

      • I completely agree – I have lived out of the US for 4+ years and it is difficult to go home. The comment you made about constantly being on holiday is so true. While I am still a bit new to this whole travel blogging world, I am currently trying to make a go of it.. and if you don’t have the corporate 9 – 5, everyone dismisses it as play time. From what I can tell, it is SO difficult and really time consuming. Thanks for this post – really great!!

  • I love this post Agness, I read once some people have an explorer gene and others are ‘nesters’ (or more homely types). Whether this is true or not it would definitely explain a few things!

  • Personally, I completely agree. I feel my life is completely different from my childhood friends and I don’t regret any decisions I have made. I think everything happens for a reason and if I didn’t travel 1/2 way across the world after graduating from university, I wouldn’t have met my husband and I wouldn’t have the amazing life I live today!

  • I’m an Asian – how small one gets to be considered small? LOL! The very same questions I got from my old folks when I arrived home from being gone for a week, a month of traveling.

    Great writing.. Keep ’em coming..

  • What a great thought, Agness! I myself enjoy travelling so much. But I’m still 21 and still not graduated yet from university so I haven’t get much bad comments yet. (Hopefully I won’t).

    Good luck to you! :)

  • WELL put Agness. The key comment in this entire article for me is: “It hurts even more when they don’t even support you and seem to be against you and your travel passion. I am still wondering if it’s a simple jealousy or something else hidden behind it – dissatisfaction with their own lives and the lack of fulfilment in their existence.” which I get a lot to. I’m convinced now that it’s the jealousy factor. Completely convinced. The thing is they won’t admit it. And they will get upset if you mention that, so I just get on with it – backpacking the globe, working hard, writing about it and bombarding people with adventures. Either they’ll eventually want to travel too or they’ll just have to be content with their lives. One thing is for sure, into my 11th year travelling, I ain’t going back to what is regarded as a “normal lifestyle”. Safe travels. Jonny

  • This is so truuue! I always find it hard to connect with people who don’t speak the same language as I do… sometimes they’d even lead me into questioning my own sanity :P

  • Totally agree Agness! Our friends don’t understand our lifestyle.But we like it this way.Travel is what we do! I think you do exactly as you wish -it’s your life and you don’t have to fit in with others’ ideas of stereotype. We only live once right? There is so much world out there and we want to go explore it so that’s our choice.Some of my friends are in to house renovation,clothes,cars,more possessions.Well we just don’t care about those things.

  • 24 is a bit young to get married and you can still travel with your husband and kids when you are a wife and a mother. Travelling with a kid gets you some benefits also…like skipping ques on airports or some other place, getting a good seat in the plane,restaurant, bus, or just having strangers being more kind and accommodating to you because you have a kid in tow.I even experienced having locals or other foreigners buying souvenirs for my kid (they find her adorable and she can speak english like a first language and can speak a few basic words of any place we visit)

  • Thats what I tell people every single time “You know if i really wanted your life, to live the way you live I could do it with a click of my finger”. However for them to live the life I or we do it takes a long time to prepare for it, it doesn’t just come over night which also another reason it is so rewarding. No one understands what its like to live the way someone does until you have done it, which is why they will never understand. Its sad but true that comfort zones are hard to break from the longer you stay in it, but each to their own hey.

  • I really loved reading this article, because some of the situations and feelings you describe really shot home. It’s really difficult to describe to non-travellers what the life of a traveller is all about and whilst I’ve tried to find a good way of putting it many times, I find it’s often easiest to just go with “I go where the opportunities are”. That’s something people usually do understand.

    However, having said that I also think that it’s often difficult for non-travellers to describe to travellers what the appeal of *not* travelling is. There is a certain comfort and security that comes with staying in one place and whilst many travellers dismiss the usefulness of that, if you think about it, staying in one place actually allows you to really integrate yourself into a local network in a deep and meaningful way that can be really difficult to achieve as a globetrotter hopping about all the time.

    So, I really think there are benefits to both ways of living and building an understanding of either is a lot about finding the words to describe one or the other and trying not to pass judgement on either.

  • Agness,
    You´re post has me torn in two directions. Having traveled through India, Russia and northern Europe and now being an expat for nearly two years in Barcelona and a brief seven-month stint in Germany, I know what its like to live in a world where most people don´t understand the beauties and difficulties of traveling and living abroad.

    Yet on the other side of things, travel writers like yourself and like me are always at risk of expressing a certain sense of superiority which almost always includes a harsh judgment of our home cultures (“I prefer to be a happy 50-year-old single woman with beautiful travel memories rather than a miserable young wife and unfulfilled mother,” for example). In the same way that you argue that your family and friends at home can´t understand what it´s like to travel, you would do well for your platform if you acknowledged that you don’t understand what it’s like to raise kids.

    I’ve been a solo traveler, a traveler with a girlfriend, traveler with a wife and a traveler with kids and I can tell you that having a kid is a far more rewarding experience than traveling until you are 50 years old. And it’s a bit close minded to assume that having kids is the end of traveling the world. Travel bloggers often criticize their family and their culture for not traveling, yet they rarely talk about their responsibility to pass their travel bug along to their children. This is a gentle criticism, so please take it as such.

    I’m also curious … how many of the travel bloggers who’ve commented on your post have actually learned the language of the cultures which they’ve visited? To laud travel and cross-cultural experiences without learning a language is nothing more than self-absorption and halfhearted immersion in foreign cultures.

    • Thank you for sharing sweetie.

      “I prefer to be a happy 50-year-old single woman with beautiful travel memories rather than a miserable young wife and unfulfilled mother” – so true!

    • Nobody should be judging anybody! We are all free to travel, marry, have kids, do whatever we like! We are lucky that we have choices.I have also travelled as a single, with my husband, with my husband and my kids. I have changed home countries and lived 30 years in the country my husband comes from, learned to speak 3 other languages, two of them fluently and tried to learn a little of the other languages of countries I have visited, including the last 3 years in China (the most challenging of cultures). But I don’t think my life is superior to others.I feel lucky and privileged.I try to understand those who don’t share my joy in travelling,but that’s their choice (in most cases). It’s not for everyone, and that’s fine by me.

  • I’m so glad I found this site. I can really relate to this post and your whole blog is really inspiring. I googled “Why doesn’t anyone understand my travel bug” in Google to find your site. I’m quite a bit older (43) and have just discovered the passion of travel over the past two years. I would love to do what you do. I hope to visit Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand on my next trip.

    When I talk about my trip with friends and family, they just don’t get it. I feel like I’m not supported or that I’m being judged. It bothers me that it stresses out my mother, but I can at least understand her viewpoint.. I’m 43, but will always be her baby boy. haha.. She worries. I try to tell her that it is just as dangerous in my country (the U.S.) as anywhere I have been. Just as I don’t go walking down dark alleys in big cities in the U.S. I try not to go places that seem sketchy in Asia as well.. Just common sense! I just wish friends and family would support my happiness rather than seeming so judgmental..

    I look forward to browsing through more of your posts! Thanks so much for the inspiring posts I have read thus far. Happy travels!

  • I run into this ALL the time. I strive to understand the decision to buy a house, and have kids that a lot of my friends make, but it doesn’t ever feel like they try to understand my life decisions. Very frustrating. Anytime I am faced with someone who seems angry at me for how I am living my life I simply say “You do you, and I’ll do me.” It rarely makes them feel better, but it gives me a certain peace :) Keep exploring!

  • Hah, they are telling you that at 24 yrs old – try getting to the mature age of 35 and still keep moving around! Then again, I travel with my wife so at least I have one thing in my life that is stable – homes, jobs and countries change but my life partners stays by my side, wherever that may be :)

  • Excllent & useful blog. But I’m surprised no one else cared to mention this: the whole Asian penis thing is a racist stereotype that is prevalent in North America, and apparently Europe. Racism, regardless of which racal group it affects, doesn’t “rock” and is generally not funny. Just saying

  • Probably not. Two completely different value systems. Does this need a solution, though? To expand on what others said about everyone being the same being boring, our personal differences are maybe the biggest source of pain, and of growth. We can sometimes grow more by realizing our fundamental differences from our nearest, and accessing these foreign perspectives, than by traveling and seeing other cultures. Think of it as another kind of diversity, one that is rarely overtly visible in the full. It may also be possible that not everyone views, or experiences, travel as the catalyst to growth that people who get the travel lifestyle do. To others, constant travel may mean disarray, an unwelcome lack of structure, a scattering of resources, etc. They may experience growth better when they stay in place. Or ‘growth’ may be too vague and abstract a topic to believe. Or they may like the idea, but not as much as you do, much as you know there are dangers and adaptations to make within an uncertain lifestyle, but don’t give these considerations the weight that they do.
    I wonder how you think of this now years after writing this article :)

    Source: female solo backpacker from a family who’s not interested at all in traveling and have said they don’t get this lifestyle at all.

  • First of all, I think it is really great and inspiring that you have chosen to live a life that makes you happy and not worry about pleasing those around you. It takes a lot of courage to go out on your own instead of doing what everyone else chooses to do. That being said I would like to point out that I was once told that if I feel that I am not receiving support in my endeavors maybe I should think about whether or not I am supportive to others. If I feel people (i.e loved ones) are not interested in my life, maybe I should question whether I am taking an interest in theirs. After being told this, it made me think about how I interacted with certain family members or friends that I have felt slighted by in the past. There negative interactions with you are possibly motivated by “sour grapes” (or jealousy). However, it could also come from a feeling that you don’t think their achievements are as important as well. They may feel the same way you feel because they chose not to travel. Next time you talk to them, ask them about their lives and praise them for their achievements. You may find that over time they are more likely to return that praise to you for your achievements.

  • How wrong I was with my 2014 comment Agness. We live and learn. Those who chose not to travel are always better off than us stupid ones that travelled – in happiness, in health and in experience they are always much wiser. We are idiots to think backpacking was in any way cool. It just wasn’t but we can’t change what we did for the peaceful happy life and that is the hardest test now. Stay at home kids – there’s nothing to see in this world. Safe travels, Jonny

      • Of course not. Backpacking and touring the world ultimately ruined my life through depression, despair and liars I met. The people who went to school with me and didn’t travel much, they ended up married, with kids, with cars, with flats and very happy with no blogs or idiotic social media posts from parts of Bolivia from people who thought that travel was cool. 4 years ago I thought travel was good, now I wish I did none of it. To quote Cold Chisel “I travelled round the world from year to year but each one left me aimless, one more year the worse for wear” :-(

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