Did you know that half of all working Americans don’t take their vacation days, and more than 10 percent never leave the state in which they were born?
The Covid crisis has nothing to do with it. Americans are non-travelers by nature. This is strange considering that it was travelers that founded the U.S.
Imagine this: back in 1492, when Columbus was ready to sail, what if he had a change of heart:
-Man, I don’t like it. This is hard, and I don’t know where I’m going. Maybe I should stay home with Filipa, play hide and seek and make some babies.
Luckily he didn’t do that.
“I don’t like traveling.”
I’ve heard that statement more times than I can count.
But there is usually another statement after it. “I don’t like traveling because…” And after that “because” or “but” comes the real reason. Most of the time, that reason sounds like an excuse to me.
If you came here expecting to find an epiphany or some switch you can press, and then all of a sudden, you start enjoying traveling, I’ll have to disappoint you.
We humans just don’t work like this.
A lot of people don’t like to travel the world. That’s ok.
I bet you know some hardcore travelers. The kind that travels more than six months a year.
The opposite is also possible: people who don’t leave their neighborhood at all.
When Non-Travelers Ruled the World
There was a time in our evolution as a human society when traveling for pleasure was not accepted.
In 1336 Francesco Petrarca, also known as Petrarch, decided without any acceptable reason that he would climb Mont Ventoux just for the joy of doing it. History remembers Francesco Petrarca as being a scholar and a poet, but not as an avid traveler.
So one day in 1336, Petrarch and three others started climbing Mont Ventoux. It was good that they left early in the morning because the townspeople were searching for him and his accomplices.
They weren’t in a hurry to congratulate him on his decision; instead, they wanted to put him in the nuthouse. It was that bad.
People back then couldn’t understand why someone would travel without any reason.
That was not possible.
People were allowed to travel for necessities and to Holy Places but not to “haunt” the land for the sake of it.
After Mont Ventoux was “conquered,” Francesco Petrarca wrote a short story about it, explaining his action.
He stated that he had lived near Mont Ventoux for most of his childhood and always wondered what his native land would look like from an elevated position. He wanted a new perspective of the world.
He should definitely have been put in jail for his transgression.
Francesco Petrarca didn’t stop, though. During a time when the black plague was raging through Europe, he traveled to Belgium, France, Holland, and Germany.
History doesn’t give Francesco Petrarca enough credit. By traveling and writing about it, he inspired others.
He showed ordinary people that everyone can do “extraordinary” things.
With his ideas, he pushed the world forward. Not long after his death, traveling became the norm.
It seems that was the best time period for folks who hated traveling.
People call me a weirdo because I don’t like traveling.
Let me start by saying that you are not a weirdo if you don’t like to travel.
I didn’t travel for over ten years of my career. Not because I didn’t want to, but I was working and didn’t have the necessary time. Going on vacation was the last thing on my mind.
You need to understand something: traveling is a habit.
Binge-watching Netflix and eating potato chips is a habit. Working out is also a habit. Some people enjoy working out. Do you call people who don’t enjoy working out weirdos?
Not wanting to travel is not a medical condition, and there’s nothing wrong with you.
The main reasons why people hate traveling:
- Traveling with someone
- Traveling alone
- The travel industry
Let’s check them one by one.
The fear of traveling is something that many people experience.
As a species, we evolved by conserving energy and moving around only for necessities. Being away from the tribe meant that we were vulnerable to wild animals and all kinds of dangers.
Today, T.V. and the Internet are doing a good job showing us all kinds of bad things happening elsewhere.
But if you look at the crime statistics worldwide, you will realize that the U.S. is not the best country to live in.
The way our parents raised us also has a say in how we perceive fear.
Repeat to a child enough times that staying home is the best way to protect himself, and the child, even after growing into adulthood, will believe that too.
You are sheltered at home. You know how to navigate the environment, and in your mind, you own the place.
How to tackle fear
There is an entire industry about overcoming fear. Three steps, seven steps, eleven steps, god knows how many steps to get rid of fear if you buy their books and courses.
There is a simple trick to deal with the fear that won’t cost you a penny.
Fear as a feeling is short lived.
Remember the first time you experienced fear?
The adrenaline rush and the way the blood pumped through to your veins? You thought you weren’t going to escape that feeling, but you did.
Every time you feel fear or anxiety about something, write your thoughts on a notepad – the reasons you feel fear and other thoughts you are experiencing. Give it a couple of hours, then read it.
Most of the time, the reasons you wrote are not valid ones. Read it again after a couple of days.
You will probably laugh at the crazy things you wrote down.
It will feel like the words on the notepad don’t make any sense.
Why would you be scared of things that make no sense?
Read a travel book.
I’ve only read a few travel books.
I feel that anything I read can’t capture the joy of traveling.
It is nearly impossible for an author to describe the sounds of the jungle or how the air feels in different corners of the world.
Reading a book helps you realize something: you are not the first one to try what you’re reading about.
The path you are going to take was already taken by someone else.
So it’s not like you are going to a new island to debark, claim the land for yourself, and then fight the natives.
Join a dedicated travel forum
You can do this for two main reasons: one, to research future travel destinations; two, to let your mind get accustomed to the idea of traveling. After all, we are what we think.
Say it out loud: I am a traveler!
How did that make you feel?
That’s because you’re not a member of a travel forum. 🙂
When you first start to travel, you will experience fear again, and the one that hit me hardest was the fear of losing control. Without realizing it, the world transforms us into control freaks.
When we are working, surfing social media, shopping, watching movies, driving the car, or playing games, we are in control; even our language gives us a sense of control.
As soon as you land at a foreign airport, you will lose that control. You will feel exposed out there and think that everybody is out to get you.
Nothing will work the way you are accustomed to, or almost nothing. However, the U.S. dollar seems to be in its element in every country on the globe. It doesn’t need an explanation or translation either.
It would be best to try to relax because whatever feelings you experience on your first trip will soon pass.
This vice tends to hit every aspect of our life. But our free time often gets hit hardest.
Think about it – when you go to work or school, you feel an obligation to go.
But once you’ve got yourself some free time, what do you do with it?
You waste it by doing nothing – well, nothing that truly matters anyway.
Doing nothing is easy and comfortable, and you don’t want to stop doing what’s comfortable.
The fact that our brain is wired to look for the path of least resistance isn’t helpful either.
If you have your favorite potato chips near your couch, you will devour them for sure.
But if those chips were on the peak of Mount Everest, what then?
You would “travel” to the nearest shop because you are not crazy enough to climb Mount Everest for a pack of chips.
One clear sign of procrastination is when you start making “trades” in your mind: “I worked hard this week. I deserve some me-time.”
You should ask yourself how much free time you’re spending in the Doing Nothing area. If it’s too much, then you should take action.
How to tackle travel procrastination
Easy: travel for 10 minutes every day.
You might say, what, only 10 minutes?
Yes, but you do need to travel.
That means going to a street or place where you haven’t been before without a specific objective in mind. Going to the local market to buy groceries is not traveling.
There is a natural rhythm to our lives or at least we consider it natural; we tend to do the same things every day… Meet the same people, eat the same foods, but when you delve into it, you realize something: they are all learned behaviors. You weren’t born with them.
The purpose of this 10 minute trip is to break out of your everyday habits.
Breaking this vicious cycle is a hard thing to do, but not impossible.
A journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step and, in your case, it can start with a 10 minute trip.
Once you do this a couple of times, you will notice that you tend to travel more than 10 minutes, and after a few more times, you will feel comfortable with it.
Not to mention that you will run out of “10 minutes away” places to visit after a while.
Travel this way for a couple of weeks and after that strange thoughts might pop up, like thinking about going to the nearest city for a day trip.
3. You hate traveling with someone else.
Sometimes, people don’t want their spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, friend/friends, and so on near them at all times.
Some folks need some me-time. If you are one of those people, then you need to be clear about this aspect of your personality.
Tell this person that you want to travel alone for a few days and be done with it. You should explain your actions clearly because you don’t want your spouse/the other person to get the wrong idea.
If your relationship is solid, then you should have no problem explaining yourself. If you are not in a solid relationship, then you need to make it solid.
It would be best if you didn’t get caught in a complacent relationship anyway. Life is too damn short.
Explain to your partner or friend that it’s okay to travel without him/her and that you don’t want to get rid of him/her. We are not living in the 1800’s, so you don’t need a chaperone.
Be careful, though; your spouse might accept that you are traveling alone but will get anxious if you are traveling with someone else.
4. You hate traveling alone.
Solo travel is not for everyone. As a species, we are bound to each other.
We spend time together and learn from each other. When we are traveling, we acquire new experiences and feel the need to share them.
This is hard to do when you are alone.
Of course, you could record yourself and send the video to your friends, but having them around is way better.
Finding a travel buddy is easy nowadays – social media can be your best tool to help you find a travel companion.
5. Travel Industry
The travel industry as a whole is a big mess.
Bloggers, influencers, and YouTubers, paid or not, present an idyllic perspective on traveling; even regular people get caught up in this game by posting photoshopped pictures and saying how extraordinary they felt on their trips.
It seems that nobody wants to share anything bad that happens on their travels. And to be honest, even their audience doesn’t want to hear about it.
Would you watch a travel video showing someone who has to sleep in the airport for two days because he can’t get his visa, although he was assured he would receive it at the airport?
I don’t think you would.
Creating higher expectations is what the travel industry does best, which confuses the hell out of first-time travelers.
They were expecting paradise, and they end up in purgatory and, in some rare instances, even in hell.
You can’t really escape the travel industry’s influence.
Still, you can reduce it by thoroughly researching locations and accommodations and then carefully picking what you want.
How long until I develop the habit of traveling?
Only 66 days.
I didn’t come up with this number.
In 2009, Phillippa Lally, a researcher from the University of London, made a study with the help of 95 volunteers trying to understand human habits.
She found that, on average, it takes 66 days for a person to acquire a new habit. The full range was 18 to 254 days.
Yes, some people can truly change something about themselves in 18 days, but, unfortunately, the chances that you will be that person are rather small.
The interesting fact is that some habits tend to speed up the acquisition of other habits. Working out is one of them.
Once physical exercise becomes a routine, it will take you fewer days to acquire another habit.
Keep in mind that you will need to stick with only a new habit at a time to be successful.
Trying to quit smoking, eating healthily, traveling more, and working out, all at the same time, will end up in failure.
That’s why New Year’s resolutions fail. Focus on one thing at a time.
After you acquire one habit, you move on to the next one, and so on. So in one year, you should be able to acquire a few good habits.
As you can see, when you hear that someone dislikes traveling, there are usually deeper reasons behind this statement.
If that person is you, you can tackle those reasons if you want.
The choice is yours.
Please remember that you shouldn’t use traveling as a means to escape problems at home.
Chances are that they will still be there when you return.
Should I travel even if I don’t like it?
Yes, you should travel even if you don’t like it.
However, keep it short, only a day or two, and choose a popular destination. One or two days outside of your comfort zone isn’t going to kill you. But you know that already.
Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures. If you post a photo once in a while during your trip, you should be safe from overly curious friends and family for a good while.
What about people who have never traveled but don’t like it?
They are a mystery to me.
How can you say you don’t like traveling when you’ve never traveled before?
I didn’t like going fishing, or so I thought. After going fishing a couple of times, I realized that I liked it but did not love it, so I stopped.
If some of my friends invite me to go fishing, I’ll go with them, mostly for the free beer, but that’s about it. I didn’t buy any fishing gear either.
“Travel” is a noun but is used more as a verb.
A verb requires action.
If you are in this position, then take action and start traveling, and after that, you will be able to point out the specific reasons for not wanting to visit places.
Most of the time, you won’t find any.
How to convince someone to travel
If you want to encourage your spouse or friend to start traveling, here is an easy idea to implement.
Everybody has hobbies.
It could be gardening, cars, fashion, or music; the list of hobbies a person might have is endless.
Travel to those hobbies.
For example, if he likes cars – there are plenty of car collections inside and outside the U.S.; travel to those.
If she likes gardening, then there are plenty of castles in Europe with superb gardens.
Fashion? Plenty of fashion events to choose from all over the world. Paris’ Fashion Week gets you covered, and it’s Paris.
For gamblers, I don’t recommend Last Vegas, though.
I want to travel but don’t know where to go.
I don’t know if something like information overload exists in travel, but you should stop looking up travel destination after travel destination.
The perfect location doesn’t exist, and I’m happy this is the case.
Making pros and cons lists and still not landing on a place to travel next means you have paralysis by analysis.
My advice is to pick one location that seems suitable for you and go.
Maybe you will like it, maybe not, but you won’t know that unless you go there and see for yourself.
I don’t want to travel to Barcelona, Spain.
You are very specific.
Can you pinpoint the exact street and house in Barcelona where you don’t want to go?
I am not trying to mock you, but you shouldn’t go if you don’t want to travel to Barcelona.
If someone close to you is pushing this on you, then you should clearly explain yourself.
There are travel locations in this world that are similar; choose a different one.
Why don’t cats want to travel?
Felines are territorial creatures.
When you take your cat on a trip, you literally take the world out from underneath their paws. Cats do not see this as a like or don’t like situation.
Their survival is threatened. Rest assured, cats will remember the perpetrator for a long time.
I don’t like to travel anymore.
Reading this means that you are not happy that you don’t like to travel anymore. You are not the first to experience this, and unfortunately, an easy fix doesn’t exist.
You may not have realized this, but you are like a child when you start to travel for the first time. Everything is new and interesting. But the more you travel, the more you change.
So you change year after year, and you see the world with different eyes. But without realizing it, you are drawing parallels between places.
Don’t believe me?
There is a simple way to find out the truth. Travel to a location that you visited previously.
You will see that this doesn’t make you feel better. The best time was the first time you were there; still, the location hasn’t changed.
You’ve changed, though, and you have to deal with it.
Luckily there is a solution. Take a break from traveling. And I don’t mean staying home in front of the TV.
Spend some time with your friends and don’t think about going on trips.
The more you spend time with your people, the more you will feel as if everything stays the same, and the thought of traveling again will make its way into your mind.
Admit it. Nothing exciting happens at home.
After six months or more, your feet will be itching to get out in the world again.
Can I refuse to travel for work?
One of my friends from France was offered a managerial position at a store in Romania.
The offer implied that if he wouldn’t accept the job, the corporation that owned the supermarket store would fire him.
He didn’t want to go, but after some negotiations about his pay, he accepted. After five years in Romania, he now says that accepting this position was the best decision of his life.
I asked him why he initially didn’t want to work there, and he said that he had heard only bad things about the country and that the French media spouted all kinds of crap about Romania.
Of course, you can refuse to travel for work. Life is all about choices. You might have family and friends that you can’t just pick up and leave.
The good news is that an employer can’t force you. Not directly anyway, but if you refuse, you might have to find yourself another job.
“All states in the United States, except Montana, can have “at-will” policies, meaning that, unless an employee has an employment contract that states otherwise, an employer can fire an employee for any reason.” If you want to know more about this, you can read it here.
What if you are unsure what to do?
Go visit the location first.
There is nothing that I or anybody else can say to help you make such a big decision.
Take some time off, find some accommodations online, and stay there for a few days.
Visit shops, museums, make small talk with the locals, and most importantly, stop by your maybe-future workplace.
You will probably reach a decision easily, and it will be an informed decision.
Is traveling bad for the environment?
Yes, overall, traveling is bad for the environment. Most of the time, the culprits are the ways of transportation we choose.
Cars, airplanes, and boats consume tons of fossil fuels. There are ways to reduce your carbon footprint, though.
Traveling by train is more environmentally friendly than traveling by airplane. And, of course, traveling by foot makes no impact whatsoever.
You can also improve the environment by traveling. If, for example, you travel in order to remove plastics from rivers before it reaches our oceans, you help the environment.
Same thing goes for traveling to plant trees.
However, these are rare instances. More than 99% of travelers will do more harm than good to the environment.