The Big Debate: Is Travelling The Be All And End All?

Team STELLAR goes head-to-head on the big questions of the day.

In the Yes corner, it’s deputy editor Victoria Stokes

Like a lot of people, after college I decided I’d take a year out to go travelling. I worked every hour I could get at a crappy retail job, saved every cent I earned and eventually boarded a plane with my best friend, first stopping off for a couple of weeks to gallivant around South East Asia, before starting my working holiday visa in Australia.

The thought of my friend leaving my side petrified me and attempting to make friends with large groups of strangers in hostels was equally intimidating. I was shy and unsure of myself, and there was nothing that scared me more than having to navigate the big scary world of travelling alone… and then, my friend flew home. Around the same time, my boyfriend and I broke up, and any friends I’d already made on my travels had moved on to other cities. I was completely solo in a country I was still getting acquainted with.

I had two options: fly home feeling like I’d failed, or face my ultimate fear and stay. I chose the latter. 14 months later, a week before I was due to fly home to Ireland, I was sat on a beach looking out at the ocean, feeling the deepest sense of achievement and pride. I was a different person to the one who had boarded a plane two years previously: a more confident, self assured, independent person, with a new found perspective on life and a small collection of hilarious stories – and I couldn’t quite believe I’d made it to the end of this journey and survived.

Those years abroad, and the subsequent trips away I’ve taken in the years that have followed have only made me richer, more whole. It’s like a bug that can only be cured by embracing new cultures, experiences and people – and each time I go away I feel like I take something meaningful home with me. Can you grow and be fulfilled in the comfort of your home town? Sure, but for me, travelling fast-tracks that experience and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

They say the world is a book and those who never travel only read one page, and for me, that could not be more true.

Saying no is STELLAR’s chief designer, Katie Gilligan

There’s an unbearably smug overtone that accompanies someone sharing interchangeable tales about their year in Australia, and it’s getting old. Of course, nobody can deny that soaking up new cultures and seeing different parts of the world can be exciting and new, but can experiencing an almost identical year out as half your peers really be all it’s cracked up to be?

To me, ‘travelling’ is a more long term commitment to being away than your average holiday, and I can’t help but feel that it’s become an incredibly stale guilt trip over the last decade or so. You can’t spend a year in Sydney working in a restaurant and call it travelling. Sure, you’ll meet new people, you’ll have new experiences, but that’s part of life and it happens at home or away. How can we be living our best lives if we’re doing what society has subconsciously swerved us into doing? There’s some serious FOMO panic being created here, the internet absolutely rammed with overly cute listicles about why travelling is SO essential, and how you’re only living your life to its max potential if you choose to fill your whole summer with Full Moon parties in Thailand over alternative plans.

I love getting away and experiencing new vibes, but surely a ten-day break wherever the wind takes me is just as fulfilling as spending a large chunk of time backpacking on a budget. I want my travel time to be limited to a certain timeframe. I want to pack for pleasure, not for practicality. I want to embrace my trips away in comfort and I certainly don’t want to spend most of it working shifts to make ends meet, I can do that at home.

My point is, you do NOT need to tick the travelling box to achieve happiness and self-actualisation. Surrounding yourself with great friends and family, conjuring up amazing plans and looking out for number one is all you need in this life, and you can achieve this in a multitude of ways. In a world where people already feel like they’re not doing enough, get off your wanderlust high horse and think outside the box. I am 100% on board with doing what you feel is right for you, but don’t assume it makes you any more cultured or fulfilled than anyone else.

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