Increase in leisure time and paid holidays, development of means of communication, trivialization of means of transport… Travel, previously reserved for a high social class, is now opening up to a larger population, at least in the countries westerners. There is even talk of “democratization of travel” or “mass tourism”. But what about the motivations that drive us to travel? Whether you like to travel alone for long periods of time, multiply group or family trips over short “holiday” periods; what is behind the desire to travel of the 21st century? This tendency is often equated with a phenomenon of instability, an escape from the real world. But between pleasure and escape, between judgment and psychoanalysis, where is the happy medium?
Is travel a vital need?
Since Neanderthals, humans have been on the move for their survival; ancient scriptures tell us that since the dawn of time, the great figures of humanity, whoever they are, have all migrated, with the means they had in their possession, to better understand the world around them. The same goes for the homo-sapiens that we are today. In another way, with other means and other goals, but man has always moved – for his survival or to discover the world – and that is not about to change!
Is travel a self-fulfillment?
Travel is an element favourable to self-development. Far from the simple recreational objective of leisure, it arouses curiosity, allows you to discover and meet other civilizations, to confront other ways of living. The journey develops openness, knowledge and self-confidence. By going out to explore the outside world, we do violence to ourselves and break out of conformism; by facing our fear of the unknown, we go beyond our comfort zone, strengthen our identity and our autonomy. Travel, through the movement it provides, brings balance, an essence for well-being. It is like a “school of life”, and we inevitably come back grown. So sometimes we have to go to a place different from our usual environment, such as a holiday trip to Madagascar for example. However, between passion and addiction, there is a bridge that propels us into this question: is the journey an escape from monotony or an escape from ourselves?
Is travel a way to escape monotony and routine?
We have all once had this desire to go far away to escape the routine and detach ourselves from our own reality; between desire for elsewhere, the need for discoveries, novelty and adrenaline, the need to get away from everyday life, collective conformity and the reality of the world, for the duration of a stay. As the French writer Sylvain Tesson says in this quote: “Travel is an escape from routine, monotony, familiarity, submission to the regulation of collective government”. But where is the line between travel and nomadism? When we decide to leave for a long stay, isn’t that a way of disengaging ourselves, and don’t we run away from our own reality and a part of ourselves?
Is it leaking from part of us?
The addicted traveller is often catalogued by external eyes as an unstable, unhappy, marginal and lonely person, dreamy, insatiable, who shuns “real life”, who does not take responsibility, or whatever. But how can we define “real life”, what is it and for whom? No one has an answer because THE answer is in each of us. We all have our reality and this is the one that we think is the best for us. Between the desire for autonomy, the need to assert yourself, to prove who you are, to know your own values, to flee the mapped out paths and the well-ordered life; between the need for discovery and change, the need to decompress or to pass the sponge on a hard blow, can we really talk about instability?
Is travel a therapy against the misfortunes of life?
Better than antidepressants, travel itself is a cure for depression, it’s been proven. Rupture, mourning, great sadness or other annoyances; nothing like leaving for a while to help us “move on”. Although not being the perfect solution to eradicate all our problems in the blink of an eye, travelling has the good thing that it allows us to offer ourselves a transitional parenthesis, an abandonment, a retreat to the difficult things of life.