Some people travel to make money. Others travel to find themselves. The list of reasons goes on and on: to try new food, to find love, to broaden your horizons, etc. I'm often stuck with a difficult conundrum; what motivates my travel?
There is one thing I know for sure about myself. I absolutely eschew the idea of having a nine-to-five job. Yes, it is unavoidable. I had to work one in order to save up the money for my trip. I'll probably even do it again when I return home. Life is full of bills, expenses, and (because I was blessed to be born in a Western country) luxuries. In the long run, there is no escaping the reality that I need money to do the things that interest me. For example, someday I want to direct films and record music, two things that require some sort of capital investment. I'd also like to see more of this great big world, which again, costs money.
Hello World. I've left my comfortable stream of income behind, to plunge into the depths of your surroundings. Besides the exterior pleasure of it all, what kinds of benefit am I reaping? What avenues am I opening for myself?
I guess the best answer is that travel removes barriers. Growing up, I was expected to live life a certain way. It was a "do or die" mentality, one which kept me locked inside of a mental bubble. This not only applies to the heavily religious environment I was brought up in, it also applies to an American way of life. In school, they told me "You can be whatever you'd like", implying I could have whatever career I'd like. A standard life path I was encouraged to go down:
1) Go to elementary school. Get good grades.
2) Go to high school. Get good grades.
3) Go to university or trade school. Get a degree or three.
4) Find a job. Make money.
5) Get married and start a family.
6) Focus on my career and make lots of money.
The more I broaden my horizons, the less fulfilling such a lifestyle appeals to me. Since hitting the road, I've had to ask myself certain questions: Should I teach English in Asia, do a working holiday visa in Australia, or return to the United States? Can I go to Norway, and get a free college degree (the answer is yes)? Should I try to Kickstarter-fund an album or short film? Is it a combination of any of these?
Before traveling, I would never have considered most of these questions. I had no idea how easy it was to get an English-teaching job in Thailand, had never heard about working holiday visas, and had never considered finishing my education abroad. One of the things I love most about life (something that scares quite a few people), is the sheer number of options one has. Sure, life has a path, but it is not a straight path. We take forks in the road and drive up rocky hills. Sometimes, we even have to swim through the ocean. Jobs come and go. The only occupation I will always have, is being me. I'm more than willing to forgo certain luxuries in order to live a satisfying life.
I guess I travel for, quite literally, an infinite number of reasons. The more boundaries I cross, the fewer limits I perceive. Between the beginning and end of life, I can go any which way I want.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write music and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.