I have plenty of friends who are travellers. I have friends who are constant long-term travellers. I have friends who just make the absolute most out of their holiday time. And I think it’s wonderful I get to see and share experiences constantly with these people both who I’ve meet in person and those who I simply chat with over social media.
Though there is something that has popped up more recently than before – or maybe I just never noticed until lately.
It’s the checklist. There has be a recent influx of statuses like “I’ve made it to [insert country here]! CHECK!” or “Good morning from country number [insert tally number here]”.
Travel is not a checklist.
Life is not a checklist.
When my friends ask me if I’ve ever been to the UK, I hesitate and end up saying “No. Not really” despite having a posts about London. I was only there on a layover. It was a 24-hour thing. I feel like I can’t say I’ve seen London let alone the country. And sure, it’s impossible to see everything in every country but there is a point of being able to say that I’ve seen and done everything I wanted and I’ve experienced the culture. I can’t say that about the UK which is why I don’t really consider my time there finished. I’m not satisfied.
If you can honestly say you’ve experienced a country to the point you can “check it off” during a 6-hour layover, please tell me your secret. I’ve spent 6-month in a country and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.
There is a difference between goals and lists. I say: have goals and throw lists out the window. It’s good to have a plan and do some research before deciding to visit a country. Do some late night random Google searches about a bunch of countries and put the ones that grab your attention as your travel goals. Don’t go to a country just because you haven’t been there yet and you want to “check it off”.
These are the reason I’m looking for ways to move back to Asia. While living in Singapore I developed a fondness for Asia as a whole. I wasn’t satisfied with my weekend trip to Hong Kong and I’d like to move there for a few months or a few years or hell, maybe I’ll end up falling in love with it so much I’ll set up a permanent base there. I’m also looking at countries in the region that are completely new to me like South Korea and Japan because that’s where my interests lie. Experiencing Asia is my current goal.
I haven’t been to every country. I haven’t even been to every continent. But I’m not ready for that yet. My current goals are all in Asia and sure they may change and develop into something new that takes me to South America or Africa or anywhere else but that’s what makes life so exciting. These decisions are what make travel an adventure – not checking off a list.
I’m not saying that all the people who I see “check off” countries or numbering all the countries they’ve been to aren’t appreciating their journey but what I am saying is make sure that your journey is following your personal desires and not just trying to mark off a list. Make sure you are travelling with your goals in mind and not painting by numbers on a picture designed by other people.