Photo: Kzenon/Shutterstock

Do You Use Travel as an Excuse to Be Your Best (or Worst) Self?

by Christine DeSadeleer Jul 14, 2010
A little more balance in our daily lives might lead to less crazy tendencies on the road.

BALANCE IN LIFE is something that constantly pervades my thoughts – mostly how I feel like I’m not achieving it.

I feel tired from spending too much time on the computer, desperately wishing my upcoming beach weekend would hurry up and get here.

Then, I get to the beach and ponder all the work I’m not getting done, and what awaits me upon my return.

It really can be exhausting.

I also write (a lot) about how I strive for balance at my site, Living Holistically. Because to “live holistically”, I believe we need to shoot for – though complete achievement is virtually impossible – balance between the facets of the self, family, and community.

But am I ever really getting to a place of at least semi-balance in my daily life? And if the answer is no, do I use travel as a way to try and create that balance? On that subject, I found this piece at Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding blog about using travel to indulge ideals or vices an interesting idea to contemplate.

In it, Brett Stuckel wonders “how many people use travel as an opportunity to get closer to their ideals” as compared to “how many people use travel as a pressure-release opportunity to indulge their vices”? I know plenty of us will, on occasion, indulge our vices at home (because we’d otherwise internally combust from too many hours of work and Facebook). And more than a few of you make volunteering a part of your “normal” at-home lives.

Good Twin, Evil Twin

Yet I wonder if some of us “use” travel in a way to be our best, or dirtiest, selves? There’s a lot of pride that can come from helping build a sustainable farm in a developing country, or cleaning up an area that has been devastated by one of the many natural disasters that have happened recently. Could some of this come from the lack of time (or the belief of it, at least) we have at home to focus on areas that really fulfill us?

And on the flipside, some of us keep ourselves so tightly wound-up at home, trying to build our careers, do well in school, spend time with our partners, raise the kids well, maintain strong friendships, work out, clean the house, and fit a tiny bit of sleep in there when possible, that we go buck-wild as soon as we set foot on the plane (‘bloody mary, por favor?’).

While I believe this can be healing within itself, sometimes we go off the deep-end into ugly territory – blackouts from drinking and sex tourism come to mind. Oh, and Las Vegas.

What if we were able to be more balanced in our daily lives – would we need our travel to be so hedonistic (or angelistic)?

What if we were able to be more balanced in our daily lives – would we need our travel to be so hedonistic (or angelistic)?

This is not a cut and dry issue, as balance is different for every person, and needs to be investigated by each individual, constantly. What’s good for me today probably won’t be true for me tomorrow, much less in six months or a year. That means I have to constantly tune in to the signals that are screaming “stop work NOW!” even though I have a zillion things to take care of.

As I look toward my trip to San Francisco next week, and what I want to accomplish between now and then, I hope the hedonist doesn’t decide to take over when I get there. Though right now, he’s about ready to hop in the car and take a little whirl.

Uh oh.

Do you use travel to be your best, or worst, self? Share your stories below.

Discover Matador