Dear Travelers, Shut Up Already (and date whoever you want to)

By February 11, 2014Lessons Learned, On Life, On Love

Recently there has been an outpouring of posts with instructions to date a girl who travels, or don’t date a girl who travels, or date a circus monkey who travels, or whatever. There seems to be an opinion held widely across the world of travel bloggers that if you don’t want to travel, there is something wrong with you. Sell all your belongings and hit the road or risk living in the soulless trap that is your nine-to-five. But you know what? Some people like their nine-to-fives. Some people want a house full of matching dishes and a brand new car and three different watches to choose from when they get dressed each morning. And I don’t see what’s so wrong with that.

after travel

after travel

before travel

before travel

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not condemning backpackers for their decisions to sell-it-all and run; I did it 4 years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. But a part of me always knew that just because it was the most liberating thing I had ever done (or probably will ever do), doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone else. And it doesn’t mean they are missing out on life because their traveling happens to occur in one week blocks twice a year. Crazy as it may sound, some people actually like money, stability, and nice things. They like seeing their friends every weekend and hosting dinner parties with all those matching plates of theirs.

Now, I am most certainly not a proponent of the rampant and all-encompassing consumerism that has infected American society. I think it’s gone too far, I think planned obsolescence is the most ridiculous concept that people buy into, and I still don’t buy shoes that cost more than $20. But who am I to judge someone who does want those things? Who are any of us travelers to? Isn’t the idea of traveling to open your mind to new cultures and people, to listen more, to understand people better? So why does that suddenly not apply to people from your own wealthy country?

And just because some people don’t find being totally broke, lost, and lonely while sleeping in a stifling room with dirty sheets their idea of a good time, doesn’t mean they’re close-minded, materialistic, assholes.

I have a very good friend. He loves to travel. He’s been all over the world. But he hates camping, he hates hostels, he hates shared bathrooms, and he loves luxury. When we went to Italy we stayed in fancy hotels the whole time (no complaints here). When we go to dinner we talk about the new art work he bought, or an $800 accent mirror he purchased for his living room. Would I ever buy such a thing? No, I’d buy a plane ticket with that money. But I certainly don’t judge him for his choices. He knows what he wants and he’s happy with that.

He once told me:

“Being successful in my career is the most important thing to me in life.”

That is his goal and he succeeded at it. Bravo, my friend. It’s more than I can say for myself.

As travelers, and more importantly, travel bloggers, we have a responsibility to be ambassadors for our respective countries around the world and around the internet. Condemning those who choose a “normal” lifestyle (whatever that means) leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And it isn’t doing our kind any favors. So how about we just let people date whoever they want?

In conclusion, to all the people of the world with steady jobs and steady paychecks and lots of very nice things: if you’re happy, I’m happy.