Travel for the sake of travelling?

Right now, I am studying for my mid-terms and there is this module called “Personality Types and Team Dynamics”. We go into detail regarding the 16 Myer-Briggs types and while I was revising the type preferences, I came across this description for introversion, “Think-Do-Think”. Then, it got me thinking about recent events that as an introvert (I), the processes that has been going on in my mind. One of these is about travelling. Let me put this into perspective.

One of my initial thoughts about exchange is that it is an opportunity for me to travel. It is an opportunity for me to travel around Europe because I don’t get this kind of chance regularly; I’m not a rich man’s son. I was going to visit so many countries and have the best 5 months in my life. Money wasn’t an issue because although I am not wealthy, travelling is still affordable. Grades weren’t an issue because all I need was just to pass. Everything seemed so perfect!

The fact is, as of now, I have travelled, and will be travelling much less than my flatmates/friends and what I had thought.

So, I was happy to be going on a holiday, far away from Singapore where everything has became so mundane. I flew to Zurich, spent three and a half days adjusting my circadian rhythm before flying over to Poland for the real tourist mode. New places, new tastes and new faces. After having much fun in Poland, we came to Budapest. The initial plan was to dump our stuffs in the apartment and go for more travelling before school starts, however I was tired from the 11 day travelling and had to spend some time recharging. I think I could travel much more without taking a break, but still, the feeling of having somewhere you can call home was calming to the senses. It was like, “I am home, I am too lazy to move.” At that point in time, I hadn’t really considered why was I reacting that way because my friends were visiting Budapest and I just joined them as a “tourist” since I was new here too.

The next trip I went was during the second week of school. We went for a 12 day trip to Berlin, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, spending about S$1,400 in total. Out of these four places, three were places I had been to 8 years ago. Was I bored? Not at all, because I was on a guided tour and didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of these cities at my own pace. Driving on the other side of the road, getting fines and just being spontaneous, these were all new to us and obviously exciting. It was really like a vacation.

Thereafter, I booked a weekend trip to Prague. On the night before the day we went to Prague, the thought sank in. “What am I going to do in Prague?” As a Perceiving person (P), I like to be spontaneous and not plan for things. I like to be disorganized and messy. I like to think of new options and do it when I like it. Therefore this question came as a surprise. I don’t usually ask these sort of questions because usually I just go to places without much plans and do whatever I want to do. There must be something wrong with me if I actually had to ask what am I going to do.

The reflections came like bullets hitting a target board. I was actually just going for the sake of going. I was travelling for the sake of travelling. Because people have done it. Because I want to do the same thing too. Because exchange is all about travelling. These little thoughts have stealthily invaded my subconscious mind and manipulated the way I perceive things. I was lost, because what does it mean by going to Prague? So that I can tell people that I have been there? So that people can look at me with envy? So that I can take nice photographs with a beautiful cathedral and put on my instagram? How many of us exchange students possessed such thoughts? I was done with the bullshit of experiencing a different culture and meeting new people. I was done with the common mindset of seeing the world and to live in the moment. I had to find an answer, a logical excuse to account for and justify my travels. I am a Thinking type (T). I don’t want to roam freely like a blind deer (pun intended: no idea) and bang into a tree before I even finished my journey here.

I realised that my overseas vacations so far were justified by simply “an enjoyable getaway”. Like I have mentioned, I was excited about the idea of getting away from the tropical heat. I was excited about not seeing the same MRT stations. I was excited about not eating the same food in the hawker center. I was excited about not entering Mochtar Riady Building for several months. There were more push factors rather than pull factors. I realised it after the Prague trip.

Although I explored Prague and spent a productive time experiencing the city, I couldn’t help but noticed that I didn’t exactly enjoyed the trip. Nothing much new. Same kind of buildings, same types of cars on the roads. Kebab everywhere in Europe. Tourists everywhere, food tasted the same… What’s there interesting? Oh, Charles Bridge is sooooo beautiful! Wow, this church is sooooo pretty! Hmmm.. this restaurant is good! Well at the end of the day, all there was left was #okcan. It wasn’t value-adding anymore. The things around are pretty much the same, at least to the Asian eyes. I mean, you cannot experience different cultures and differentiate them just by going to the cities for a few days each. It takes time to understand and experience! Isn’t the European culture similar on the surface to the Asian eyes? No? Okay come, I clap for you.

Since there were more push factors, I prefer to see it as this way: I am now living in another country, far away from Singapore. There is no need for me to travel a lot because my original mindset was just to get away from Singapore. Now I have done it, I see no purpose in travelling anymore. I am now at equilibrium. If I do have to travel, something must push or pull me. Budapest has been treating me well so far. I have to get sick of Budapest before I move again, unless I found something fun to do. For example skiing or mountain hiking. Otherwise, I am staying.

Some other factors that held me in was building on the friendships I have made here. My classes are really interesting and I really don’t want to miss any. Of course I will be going on a long trip after the finals because by then I would probably be sick of Budapest, and also, the thought of places I wanted to visit long ago.

However, as of now, I see no point in mindless travelling just for the sake of, “I am already in Europe, it would be stupid of me not to travel and come back again next time.” Many people will say, “Wah lau you come here don’t want to travel, then you want to wait next time pay another $2,000 to fly here again meh? You siao ah. Stupid sia!” The point for me is, I want to come back next time! I don’t mind paying the $2,000 air ticket twice a year to visit Europe because that’s my personality. I do what I enjoy doing and don’t tell me what I should do or should not do. I am not rich, but having such thoughts certainly motivate me to achieve what I want to somehow. By thinking, “I am just gonna cover Germany now and not return for the rest of my life because it is cheaper this way.” I would be indirectly restricting my future options and developing a “poor” mindset. To me, memories are memories. I live in the moment literally and practically. Photographs and memories cannot replace and re-enact what I want to experience again. I am a Sensing type (S). So, if I want to, I will just come back to Europe again instead of looking at the old photographs like a loser.

Yes, my personality type is ISTP.

These are just my personal views after doing some serious soul-searching. The bottom-line is, think for yourself. Feel for yourself. Don’t do things just because, “people do it so I also want to do it”. And don’t succumb to enviousness or peer pressure because you will end up not knowing what the fuck you are doing.

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One thought on “Travel for the sake of travelling?

  1. Thanks I enjoyed reading this and the way you express yourself. I’m at a similar point of questioning why I’m traveling. I’ve realized the times I’ve most enjoyed were when I had a real purpose for going to a place rather than just for the sake of going. Ticking places off a list really grates with me. So for the first time, I’m thinking hard before I travel on to somewhere new or even old, before launching myself into the type of traveling where – as you described – things can start to look and feel the same. Yes, I’d rather go to places and be myself in places where it makes sense to be there. It takes effort to remove oneself from the collective travel mindset and airlines are good at influencing where and when we go through their pricing strategies. But traveling more selctively and consciously is the direction I need to go.

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