Do We Travel To Escape Reality?

My grandmother has a very specific view of people who travel a lot, especially old people.

She can’t understand how they can’t just be happy with staying at home, why their souls are so restless and unhappy with their current situation.

I hear and read this a lot:

If you travel all the time, you’re running away from something.

Is that true? Are we running away from something… if so, then what are we running from?

I believe that nearly all of us are running, but for two different reasons:

  • Some have restless souls trying to find happiness in external things like adventure and experiences, in other words, they’re trying to escape from who they are right now – hoping to change.
  • Some are dreamers running away from society hoping to find an escape somewhere else or to find an answer telling them that life doesn’t have to be the way people force it to be.

Running Away From Yourself

I both know and have met people in this situation: They are sick of traveling, tired of always being on the road, talking nothing but negative about travels but they still have that nervous restless look in their eyes, which makes them continue.

Some left home because they hated their life there, hoping it would be better somewhere else, only to find they brought their problems with them.

The only problem is that they don’t realize it, but continue to the next destination thinking and hoping that it will be better there, and then the next, and the next…

Instead of dealing with their problems – they try to find a way to escape them, which is impossible.

When traveling it is easier to block out your personal problems because of all the new, exciting, external things going on, but you will never escape them.

Running Away From Reality

If we’re running away from (leaving) a current reality or situation, and I believe this is true for many of us, then I can’t see why that would be such a bad thing?

– Why should we accept life the way it is? – Why can’t we look for something better? – Why can’t we widen our perspectives?

I say we can, and we should!

We don’t have to follow the rules of society like a bunch of numb robots, doing everything society tells us to do even though we haven’t seen much good coming out of it.

In fact, I think this is an awesome reason to travel.

Running away in this aspect, searching for something else in life is necessary for you to evolve, to develop and not get stuck in a current situation.

In a way I believe that you have to be looking for something to find something – although not necessarily knowing what you look for.

What do you think about all this? Why Do You Travel? Are you trying to escape from reality?

(photo credits: vincepalstevendepoloaarmono)

39 Responses to Do We Travel To Escape Reality?

  1. Tour Absurd December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    As another reader said on Facebook, “I travel to create a new reality.” And to repeat what I said on Ye Olde Book o’ Face: “There is not just one reality. There are as many, or more, as there are people.”

    If you don’t deal with the things that got you into a troublesome situation in the past, yes, you run the risk of hauling the baggage with you. But that’s not really running “away,” is it? It’s just moving.

    I totally agree with you that we can — and should — seek better things, constantly. Appreciate the good you have, enjoy it in the moment, and build on it. Use it as a springboard to seek even more joy. We are meant to be happy! :D

    • Michael December 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

      Right before I saw this comment, I was going to write the same exact thing.

      I’ve escaped reality to create a new reality.

      I think we’ve ALL escaped from something before we started traveling. The main thing is knowing travel isn’t the instant cure for solving personal issues but we can’t deny the fact that it can help. For me, travel has calmed me down a lot. I use to be much more of a nervous person but somehow traveling has kept me more relaxed and seeing things differently.

      Good topic!

      • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:43 am #

        great reply Michael, many ppl think that by traveling, everything will get better, and for a while that might be the case but sooner or later you will need to look inside and create a consistent reality within you which works no matter where in the world you are.

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:44 am #

      thanks for sharing :) love that mindset, and everything you said is right on point!

  2. Anthony December 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Hey, what a wonderfully refreshing post! Most articles on this subject are quite defensive whereas yours is open minded. I’m leaving next year and I have no problem at all to admit that I feel like I’m pressing a ‘reset button.’

    I’m not happy with my life but I’m sure as hell doing something about it and I can’t see me being negative on the road. Cheers for this post :)

    • Sofia December 22, 2010 at 3:24 am #

      Thanks Anthony! A reset button should be something to be proud of! I believe that if you’re not happy with your life, the worst thing you can do is to continue without changing it.

  3. Ayngelina December 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Sure I think a lot of people do travel to escape but the reality is that anything you are running from always catches up with you.

    • Sofia December 22, 2010 at 3:26 am #

      Very true, you can’t avoid your own problems, they will be the same no matter where you are.

  4. GlobalButterfly December 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    I say what the hell is wrong is you ARE running away from something? Good for you for running not walking! If you aren’t happy staying put in 1 place then why should you stay in 1 place?

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:42 am #

      yeah I agree – its better to leave and do something you enjoy than stay and just accept and deal with that situation.

  5. enrolled agent cpe December 22, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Running away from something is not bad especially when you want to make the most out of your life. I can relate to the other comments in here since I also escaped my “reality” in order to follow what my heart desires. Why stay in a place where you are unhappy if you can go and fulfill your dreams.

  6. Kaylin Stephens December 22, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    I really don’t like my jobs (yes, plural, am poor need money) and the place I live. I’d run, not walk, from this place if I ever got the chance and never come back. So, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it in 2011. It’s my resolution of sorts. I’m moving to Korea to teach English in August if all goes according to plan.

  7. Lisa E December 23, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    I think I’m only partially escaping from (one) reality when I travel and simply moving into another one that’s a bit more exciting. And then when I return to the original one, I appreciate it more because I’m happier.

  8. Lachlan Wittick December 23, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Travel helps one acknowledge that reality is a flexible, rather than static concept.

    Instead of getting caught up in the pitfalls of home, the fleeting nature of travel experiences helps one truly get to know the present moment.

    One begins to realise that it’s not necessary to run in the first place. What’s important is to live in the here and now.

    From Lachy

  9. Cara Lopez Lee December 23, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    I love this topic so much, it’s more or less the theme of my memoir, in which the subtitle refers to “The Power of Running Away.” I’m type #2, although if I tweaked it just slightly to fit my personality, I would call it “Running Away from Conformist Notions of Reality.” I hope to keep doing that until I’m 100.

  10. Cailin O'Neil December 23, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    One of my first big travel trips was because I was trying to run away from something at home, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and one of the best trips I ever took and has literally changed my life and put me on a totally different path in life that I never thought possible before.
    Now I travel, sometimes to escape reality but as cliche as it sounds, I travel because I want to make travel my reality and then essentially I won’t be running from anything anymore I’ll just be running to it :)

  11. Sarah Wu December 23, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    I agreed with Ayngelina that reality will still catch up to you. Traveling is always good but running away is not always the best way to escape from everything. I mean even I try to run away from stuff too, but it does catch up.

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:45 am #

      its funny how that happens isn’t it!? :p life is pretty smart and will force you to deal with it sometime in the future.

  12. Deb O'Kane December 23, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    whenever I’ve been travelling for any length of time, that becomes my reality. Makes me realise (and appreciate) the ephemeral nature of time and life…and the stuff that most of us spend lots of time and energy on is not always the reality that we dream of for ourselves. So the 9-5 isn’t reality, and those few weeks a year when you have control of your destiny is. Or maybe not…

  13. Annie December 23, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I agree, I think sometimes people think that they can run away but they must soon find out that your problems just follow you. That said, if you aren’t happy then by all means do what it takes to find happiness, just know that life still won’t be perfect. Maybe a new place will put a different perspective on problems though and give you a new and improved view on life and way to deal with things.

    I travel because I’m restless and I always want to see something new and completely different. But I’ll admit that it’s easy to think everything will fade away when you move to a new place, but that’s generally not the case.

  14. Rashaainal December 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations for any purpose and any duration, with or without any means of transport. Travel also includes relatively short stays between successive movements. … http://www.elal.co.il/ELAL/English/States/General/

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:40 am #

      interesting idea – thanks for sharing!

  15. Harrison December 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    What I don’t get is the older generation’s thought for “staying put”? It gets sooo boring and I don’t understand how people who don’t travel or move around much find any “inspiration”.

    I hope even when I’m over 60+ years (thank goodness that’ll be decades up decades into the future), that I still travel around the world, just like my grandpa did (his travels to over 100+ countries inspired me to do a lot of my own traveling).

    And what would I be running away from? Monotony. I hate it :)

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:38 am #

      haha yeha, you sum it up well. travel really does give you endless inspiration, and having that mental freedom to travel should also continue till as old as you want.

  16. Sabina December 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I learned on my first trip overseas that you can’t run away from your problems – they’ll be landing at your destination shortly after you do. Still, distancing yourself from people and situations by traveling does put up a pretty nice buffer. Sometimes. It is not a cure-all, at all.

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:40 am #

      I also learnt this on my first trip – you can run away from what is going on inside your mind – yeah by travel you can block it out for a while, but you will have to deal with yourself sooner or later.

  17. Anonymous December 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    I love this conversation!Traveling to get away from your problems can work out, as long as that problem or thing isn’t yourself. As my wise and funny friend says, “No matter where you go, there you are.” =)

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:35 am #

      so true – i first left New Zealand 4 years ago to get away from my problems – but once in Europe, realized the problem was me :p and had to deal with them anyways. love that qoute: “No matter where you go, there you are.” :)

  18. Joshua Johnson December 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    I travel to run towards a wider understanding of reality. I am not running away, I am RUNNING TOWARDS. Towards a more holistic perspective. Towards challenge. Towards discovery and truth and purpose.
    The reality of home, of “ordinary life” is a fallacy, it is all reality. This and so much more! So you can’t escape reality, you create it, you revel in it. You can run your whole life and never reach the edge of reality, you will stay firmly in the center.
    Now whether your reality is one you are proud of, are comfortable with. That is another blog post altogether!

    • Nathan Schacherer December 24, 2010 at 3:37 am #

      love that mindset Joshua – running towards a wider understanding of reality. :) thanks for sharing your views!

  19. Off Track Planet December 24, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    Going away when I was desperate to leave wasn’t a solution for me – I waited until it was a time I was strong enough to accept all the changes and growth I knew I would face. Running away is not an option, but I think for those of us with the bug, it’s running towards – we’re running towards something amazing that we know is out there.
    Incidentally, my Grandma is exactly the same. Before I went rtw this year, she reminded me that “these are all things that you can see on the television.”
    – Rish, OTP

  20. Theodora December 27, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    If you don’t know what you’re running towards, the only way forward is to run away from what you know…

  21. Crazysexyfuntraveler December 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    If u run from problems, there will always be the same problems somewhere inside u even during traveling, but travel can bring u different way to look at the world, and find a solution for the problems this way …

  22. Michael Hodson December 31, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    just trying to make travel my new reality!

  23. Angela January 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I’m very curious about different cultures, this is my main reason for traveling. Does this mean I’m running away from something? Admittedly, I’m truly enjoying the process so my initial love for traveling has developed into proper nomadic life. I wouldn’t say that who travels a lot escapes from reality, as anywhere we go, we find reality. Probably we are more demanding so we need more time in order to find what we are looking for, but as you say, what’s wrong in keeping looking? ;)

  24. John Williams January 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I don’t know about escaping reality, but consumerism has a role to play here as well. We are sold dreams that the marketing departments of many companies tell us are the antidote for a boring stay at home life. This is now reinforced by all forms of media including social networks.
    The way we travel defines us; luxury -I am a very important person; adventure travel – I’m fearless, cool and awesome; eco-travel – I am a responsible human etc.
    “I travel, therefore I am”.

  25. Jon August 13, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Love this post! :)

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