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.



  • Brittany says:

    People are all different and that makes the world a wonderful place. If everyone sold all of their belongings and traveled, it seems that the world would, um, not function. Who would design the cameras and backpacks for the travelers? Who would fly their planes and run the hostels or hotels they stay in? The world works because we are all different.

    I know there are many people who are unhappy in their 9-5 jobs who do not wish to sell off and travel, but to find something they enjoy more. There are people who have kids who don’t want them out of school all year. There are people who want to be in a place and teach yoga or dance. There are people who want to be involved in building strong communities around the world. There are a million things for people to do that would not jive with he kind of travel that involves barely stepping foot in a home or being a part of a town.

    People need to open their eyes and hearts and think before they publish, lest they forget they are not the only kind of person in the world.

  • Brittany says:

    I might have gone with a different title, mostly because I tell my kids not to say shut up. Maybe Dear Travel Bloggers, To Each Her Own Life. Or maybe Live and Let Live. Or maybe, if I was writing it, in the words of Elsa, “Let it Go”.

  • Taylor says:

    Yeah, maybe so. But I’m almost 100% positive no kids read my blog and the 25 adults that do can handle it.

    And you’re right, the saying “to each his own” should have a very clear place in everyone’s understanding of the world. We could also say, “one man’s travel is another man’s nightmare.” Or something like that…

    p.s. these korean kids are so obsessed with frozen, i think they’ve even worn me out.

  • Carrie Greif says:

    Classic before and after pics. Well said.

  • Celia says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I know tons of people who would never ever do what I do. People who woulnd’t love this life of travel. But many I know are not happy with their jobs and I hope that we as travellers can help these people see that you can actually break free of conventional life if you’d like to. And what they do with their lives after that? I couldn’t care less! Do what makes you happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great post Taylor! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Megan says:

    Hoo hoo (quote from Frozen just for you). I can’t figure out why *so* many people spend *so* much time and effort trying to tell others how to live. There’s no one size fits all life. Loved the post.

  • Kellie says:

    Well said!! The most important thing in life is finding what makes you happy and finding the time to do it. It may be travel, it may be something else. For me it’s travel and photography, for my brother it’s spending time with his wife and kids and building a safe and happy home for them. And guess what? We are both happy! Actually, I think he has actually been a lot happier than me for most our lives!

  • Charlie says:

    Well said. Everyone is different and likes different people, and many of the articles posted on this subjected haven’t appreciated that at all. Good read, thanks.

  • Taylor says:

    Thanks for all the love guys! I thought I was gonna go crazy if I read one more post about who I should or shouldn’t be dating. Vive la diffรฉrence!

  • Auburn says:

    THANK YOU for this! While I love traveling, I don’t enjoy the subset that believes it’s the only activity of value. I drool over photos of friend’s children the same way they do over my documenting monuments. Happiness comes in many forms, and there are incredible moments to be found both at home and abroad.

    • Taylor says:

      Exactly. And to be honest, even I got tired of being broke and lonely and never having a room with my very own door. Everyone’s living their life the way they are for a reason. And certainly some people hate their jobs and do want to travel but are too broke or too scared or whatever. But ultimately, people need to make whatever choices are best for them.

  • Great post, Taylor. I think there’s a danger sometimes of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude among full-time travellers because they have packed in the 9 to 5 – and yet that’s something that most other people aren’t yet doing, don’t want to do, or feel they can only aspire to.

    I am in between. I love travel but I also love home (helped by living in a beautiful location that also happens to be popular with tourists). I like the freedom to do as I wish when I wish, but I also like the stability of home and my children’s schooling. (I personally don’t feel home schooling is the way forward but respect that others feel otherwise.)

    Due to home commitments, I can’t easy travel anywhere at any time (at least not without being very selfish!) but at the same time I’m not restricted to one or two weeks a year.

    I enjoy luxury but I also enjoy camping (and who’s to say the two can’t go hand-in-hand anyway). I’m less fussed about hostels and shared bathrooms, mind. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Taylor says:

      Thanks, Paul! Setting up your life in a way where you can still find excitement at home is a great way to find some balance between staying and leaving. I also enjoy the finer things in life. Most especially when someone else is paying for them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Where are you living now?

  • Hi, Taylor. I saw this over on Facebook and thought I’d leave a comment. Great post, first of all! Nice to see someone writing about this. I’m tired of hearing certain full-time travelers criticizing those who travel part-time or opt for vacations. No one’s way is better than anyone else’s. They’re just different.

    I’m an ESL professor in NJ–love my job–and have 4 months off a year. I don’t work in an office (I did a long time ago and left it for teaching), so I don’t need to ‘escape from a cubicle’ or whatever. I have the best of both worlds. And I don’t need to quit my job to travel in a meaningful way.

    I have great friends who don’t travel at all (or only take tours) and they’re happy in their own way. They’re not narrow-minded people, either. They just don’t happen to travel the way I do (independently).

    Like Auburn said, “Happiness comes in many forms, and there are incredible moments to be found both at home and abroad.” Definitely.

    Anyway, I’ve been planning a post for a while re: why I’m not a full-time traveler (or why one doesn’t have to quit their job to have incredible experiences). When I post it, I’ll surely be linking to your post here. Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Taylor says:

      Lisa! Working 8 months and having 4 months off is like my dream position! Much like a 4 day work week is my happy balance in the world of 40-80 hour work weeks. Unfortunately, I can’t legally teach due to some poor decisions made before my 21st birthday (don’t ask). Hopefully, I can find a nice balance in the future but the most important thing is that I know what makes me happy and I can spend the rest of my life trying to make that happen. And after all that backpacking, it turns out that I’m actually happier with a mix of stability and uncertainty. I guess the moral of the story is: figure out what makes you happy, and do it. Happiness certainly does come in so so many forms.

  • Taylor,
    I loved it, including your title. I use attention getting phrases all the time to try and grow my readership. Your topic is spot on. Just because one traveler wants to do her/his thing one way does not mean we all have to follow in their shadow.

    I am an old fart that loves traveling, but sadly cannot afford it full time. I am on a fixed income in retirement and my dollar only goes so far.

    I cannot afford luxury all the time yet I am with your friend on bathrooms that are dumps. Overall I thought your post was spot on and great. I subscribed to all your platforms as a result. Thanks for brightening my day.

    • Taylor says:

      Haha Mike, I took a little guff for the title from my sister, but that’s how I honestly felt. I couldn’t stand to read another article about how travelers are more open-minded or kinder or anything else. Certainly we have more experiences from which to learn and grow, but almost all of my closest friends are stay-in-one-place career people who take trips on the side, and they’re all pretty awesome and open-minded in my opinion. Will be following you as well!

  • THANK YOU. I’m on my first long-term solo trip and while I am loving it I am also really looking forward to settling into a new city for a year or two once my trip is over. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

    I think the biggest thing that determines I’ll never travel full-time for more than 6 months at a time is that I miss the familiarity of my friends and family. You know, not having to do the introductions every bloody day and start from scratch every week or so. Skype is a beautiful thing, but there’s no replacement for laughing too much over a bottle of wine with good mates. Great post!

    • Taylor says:

      AHHHHH! WIIIINNNE! Oh, how I miss bottles of wine with my friends back home. To quote my best friend’s favorite t-shirt: “let’s go wine tasting on the couch.” I can’t wait to get home to that couch.

  • Brittany says:

    If that was guff, ha! What I sort of meant was that it can be hard to have a discussion with the people who wrote those posts if you start yours with shut up. When you notice that everyone commenting is agreeing with you it feels good, but there are clearly some people who would disagree in some areas. I just love when a post fosters real discussion. I sill loved the post, as you know!

    • Taylor says:

      Don’t worry Britt, I’m already getting some proponents of the original “Dont date a…” on FB. I’m happy to spark discussion however it comes about. And to be honest, I really just wanted to tell some people to shut up. As in, I was tired of hearing about it. I also don’t have children so this isn’t such a hot-button phrase for me.

  • Evette says:

    Well said. Travelling is a luxury regardless of how it’s done. There are many who would love to ditch the shackles of their 9 to 5, or 9 to 8, or 8 to 11 jobs, but can’t because they need the income. Many people are responsible for contributing to their household income from a young age. Responsible for helping to raise siblings, or for raising their own children, and many people need to work a steady job to pay off their educational loans.
    To have the freedom to leave when you want and travel where you want is a luxury, even if you’re staying in hostels. It’s a luxury that also happens to be an investment that can enhance and enrich your perception and connection with the world, but it is still a luxury. One many people would love to have, but for their responsibilities that require them to stay home and stay earning.
    So I agree with you completely. Travelling is wonderful, but the condescension toward different values/abilities/choices is little more than ignorance.

  • Loved this post! I have been saying the same thing for years – Choose the life that YOU want to live, don’t do something just because someone else says its the right way. I am one of those full time travelers BUT I don’t believe what I do is what everyone should do, far from it. I believe that whatever path you choose, as long as it makes you happy then it is the right path for you. I am not a better or worse person because of the lifestyle I choose. But it is the right path for ME and that’s all I care about. Everyone wants something different from their life, we are all different, and that’s a good thing otherwise it would be a very boring world to live in. No one should condemn anyone’s choices in life. Its their life, they should be able to live it the way they want.

  • It’s taken us some time to understand that just because someone doesn’t fall in love with travel or want to go see the world, it doesn’t mean that they’re maladjusted and need to “carpe diem” and all that crap. We’re going to be traveling as a family for a year, and then after that, probably not travel as much. And that’s what we want.

    What we’ve learned so far is that travel is very much a personal experience, and though it’s completely okay to educate and help others on how to make travel achievable, to shove budget/long-term traveler philosophies down peoples’ throats is quite condescending to their own way of living.

  • Stephen says:

    You beat me to the punch, I was just writing a nearly identical article, so basically bravo, I completely agree.

  • I’ve several ex-boyfriends who would say never date me, but that is an entirely personal matter ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re absolutely spot on – what is so wonderful about the unique and varied land that we all live in, is that no two of us are the same. Not even twins. So, in our quests for eternal happiness, we have to do what pleases us. In the quest for a better world, we also have to tolerate how others choose to live their lives. As my wise nan used to say “Live, and let live.” Great post.

  • Helen says:

    Love this Taylor. We all have a different path to go down and I hate that anyone judges someone for the life they choose to lead. It’s all about whatever makes you happy!

    Well said! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • […]         All this talk of who to date has started to annoy the internet and I’ve been giving it lots of thought. Sure, choosing the right partner is kind of a good […]

  • Elle says:

    Well said. I agree with all of it. So often I find myself arguing with people on this topic. I used to be guilty of judging others for doing different things until I just asked myself…why? Why am I judging them for doing things that make them happy? Would I want the same in return? No. And gradually you learn to appreciate the things people do for themselves regardless of whether or not it would make you happy to do it because it’s not about you. It’s about them. And the stuff you do is for you.

    Lovely post, I enjoyed the read. ๐Ÿ™‚
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