10 reasons why travel is a waste of time

Qasr al Jaabar SyriaSince I woke up in a contrary mood this morning, I thought I’d have a bit of fun with this post. There are so many posts and articles written about the virtues of travel that I figured I would play Devil’s Advocate and take the opposite view. I mean let’s face it, millions of people never travel and lead a perfectly happy existence, right? Whatever the magic ingredient to a life of fulfilment, is travel in itself really worthy of a place on the list?

Here are 10 reasons why travel is a bad idea. Feel free to add more if you wish:

1. Travel is expensive. Flights, accommodation, trips and activities all cost money. And eating out all the time must drain the finances, apart from places like SE Asia, where you don’t know what you’re eating anyway. Staying at home allows you to save money that can be put to more sensible things, such as a home, a car or investment in your own future.

2. Travelling damages your career. Those who embark on long-term travel are giving a finger to the conventional world and showing their lack of commitment to a stable career path. How can you be taken seriously for a promotion where you insist on taking all of your holiday allowance and then use it to go to the other side of the world, where you can’t be reached if a client needs your help?

3. Travel destroys the environment. All those flights emit a lot of CO2, and it does make a difference. What’s so wrong with your neighbourhood that you have to pollute our planet just to get your kicks?

4. Travel doesn’t actually teach you anything. If you’re the kind of person who’s smart enough to learn the lessons from your experiences on the road, you’d have learned them at home too. If you haven’t got an open and curious mind at home, being somewhere else isn’t going to suddenly alter your cranial capacity.

5. There is no need to travel anymore. Want to know what the Taj Mahal is like? There are thousands of images, videos and articles online and in books. You can also watch many travel TV shows about your place of interest. Others have been there and done it, so why not save yourself the hassle and just follow their trip from the comfort of home.

6. Travel is dangerous. Heard about all these plane crashes? Kidnappings? Suicide attacks? Coach crashes? Tsunamis? Earthquakes? Need I go on? It’s a dangerous world out there. Your time and money might be better spent in protecting your own home and family.

7. Travel is uncomfortable. Why would you spend 20 hours on a plane, then sleep in someone else’s bed, getting attacked by nasty insects, suffering mystery sicknesses and struggling with unbearable heat and humidity? Are you mad?

8. You don’t know what you’re eating abroad. Foreign people eat all sorts of weird stuff. In some places they eat guinea pigs, in others snails, or worms, or even dogs! How do you know what they are putting on your plate when you can’t even read the menu?

9. They don’t speak English over there. What’s the point of ‘mixing with the locals’ when they can’t even speak English. How are we supposed to communicate? Even those that say they do can be hard to understand. Why would you go to a faraway place, just to find yourself struggling to be understood? I mean, I thought everyone would know English by now.

10. It’s just too much hassle. Airport security, ash clouds, changing money, passports and visas; even thinking about all that’s involved is enough to cause stress. Where’s the hassle in staying at home?

Right. That’s done the trick. I’ll finish here as I need to book some flights. Happy travels!

Author Information

Freelance travel writer

53 Responses to “10 reasons why travel is a waste of time”

  1. Sam #

    Haha, great post. All these things are so true, but why do we all still do it? Crazy. I’ve got another one for the list, although some may disagree, but while travelling you start to get an unhealthy craving for a proper cheese sandwich. When you get home you can’t get enough mature cheddar therefore put on a few extra pounds.

    May 29, 2010 at 11:22 am
  2. Not to mention bad for your health! I hate not having a regular gym to work out in and access to healthy food on a regular basis. But at 5 pounds heavier, I am still happy to be on the road! lol

    May 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm
  3. Loved this! Who would want to be “sensible” anyways? Oh, right, like you said… A lot of people! You hit the exact right tone; I’ll be laughing about this all day. So happy we all think the long plane, train and bus rides are worth it!

    May 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm
  4. There’s a theme here: Unhealthy living. I agree on the cheese point; it’s easy to overindulge when you get home to decent cheese, particularly from Asia. Mind you, travelling in SE Asia we ate plenty and didn’t gain weight – maybe because the diet there seems to be less fatty than ours. On the other hand if I go to the US for any length of time I’m guaranteed to put on weight; giant hotel breakfasts and huge portions for dinner spell disaster! Thanks for your comments.

    May 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm
  5. Michael John #

    Hi Andy

    I like this post as an alternative to all the dreamy(?) travel blogs out there.

    As a well hardened traveller, I can sympathise with a lot of the points you detail.

    I have been very lucky to travel all over the place AND be paid for it. All I can say, is that to see life is to experience it. Not thro’ pictures and second hand blogs, but to be there,seen it got the T-shirt etc,etc

    From the gun happy country of the Yemen to the Sea,Sand and Shopping life in Dubai to the wonderful experience of China and Mongolia.

    To appreciate this world, if you are of the nature, you HAVE to get out and explore

    Take care and happy travels

    Michael

    May 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm
  6. Good, thought-provoking post. Why DO we want to travel?
    Your points are well taken (and heeded) by many, but then there are the rest of us who just have to experience it first hand…whatever the cost or inconvenience… wouldn’t have it any other way!
    Just goes back to the old saying about “it takes all kinds”!

    May 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm
  7. Haha! Loved the post. Travel is expensive – we are learning that in Europe the hard way. It is not comfortable at all – Try spending 24 hours on a bus with dead lobsters that are starting to turn because of the intense heat! So true about the language – We are in France and even though we speak a bit of the language, we have never been less engaged with the locals.
    I always love these devils advocate posts:)

    May 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm
  8. LOL! Thank goodness travel is so awful or EVERYONE would do it and we would never find those great discounted hotel rooms or cheap flights, not to mention an empty beach or deserted ruin!

    May 30, 2010 at 12:32 am
  9. Thanks again for the great comments. I agree with Ian and Wendy that it’s a good thing that there’s so many people who don’t want to travel – if you spend a day at Angkor Wat or the Taj Mahal and then imagine if the number of visitors doubled or even trebled…

    And of course, as Michael and others have rightly said, there is no substitute for first hand experience. Even when it’s one that is inconvenient or has an element of danger; there’s something we can take out of all those experiences.

    May 30, 2010 at 9:37 am
  10. …and as Homer once said “What’s the point of going out? We’re just going to wind up back here anyway” 😉

    (n.b.Simpson – not the Greek poet!)

    May 30, 2010 at 10:24 am
  11. Genie #

    What a great read to wake up to! Laughter and thought. Maybe we travel like we rip off scabs — because it feels so good when we’re done. No, we do it because we must, and I amend the general theme — thank heavens everyone doesn’t do it. Else, how could we feel so superior to those who don’t?

    May 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm
  12. Love this post! Yep, travel really sucks sometimes.

    But we need it to be that way – not just to keep the number of tourists in check, but also so we better appreciate all those awesome moments and discoveries we find along the way.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm
  13. Liked it! Almost made think about quitting travel. haha. Funny how other people’s views can drive your own opinion. But for this one, it’s never gonna get to my head, sorry. I prefer to travel every time I can. So yeah, keep posting and traveling!

    May 31, 2010 at 12:52 am
  14. Hey, great post! (And I’m loving the website, too.)

    As I see it, people who travel do more than explore their surroundings because while we’re at it, there is always some sort of self-discovery whenever you go see places – whether you are walk around an old town square, enjoy the sunset from different beaches, or even look at the clouds from the window of the plane. You always take home something with you.

    More safe trips!

    May 31, 2010 at 1:35 am
  15. Great post, but remember with no. 3, you don’t HAVE to fly you know …

    It is funny how many people feel they ‘need’ to travel – usually because all their friends do, so they have to keep up with everyone else. And they spend a lot of money, come back with some nice photos and a clever anecdote or two, but you get the feeling they are left wondering ‘why did we do that?’

    I think motivation is important – and I don’t mean you have to be searching for some ‘authentic’ traveller-not-tourist experience. If you want to go away for two weeks just because you want to do tourist things, great. But it is best to travel because you want to, or are even compelled to, not because it is ‘the thing to do’, or because everyone else is.

    May 31, 2010 at 8:13 am
  16. I always read your blog on my way home. While reading your article, I could not agree more, and keep thinking oh where to next? Haha funny..
    Because we know EVERYONE is doing, we want to be more and more creative.
    Why, who gives you an award with this, or recognize you? Oh well sometimes, but that’s not our purpose.
    It is tricky but could not clearer matter. Haha!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:28 am
  17. Great post indeed 🙂 And yes, there is one more bat thing about traveling: it’s bad for the family. One might want a nice vacation that includes sun and sea and nothing to do, and another one wants a mountain, adventure etc. Tough choice and reason for family fight, right?

    May 31, 2010 at 10:41 am
  18. Looks like we’re developing a ‘travellers against travel’ group here! Love the great comments. Thanks to all for your thoughts.

    May 31, 2010 at 12:39 pm
  19. It’s a hard life, but there are still be standing in line everyday at a airport near you 🙂

    May 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm
  20. Ha! Smacks of my ex-husband, who always insisted that he didn’t need to travel when he could look at the photos in NatGeo. Was really relieved when you went off to book tickets….

    June 1, 2010 at 5:47 am
  21. Scary to think a majority of Americans (judging from the passport stats) probably agree with this…

    June 1, 2010 at 9:25 am
  22. travel gives me a rash, makes my sinuses flare up and gives me altitude sickness (on the plane).

    travel is a vicious cycle. when i get back to work, i need a break from the break.

    ooo… im in a lousy mood now.. i think.. i think.. i need a HOLIDAY! LOL

    June 1, 2010 at 9:28 am
  23. And yet, as I say even in the about page, “It’s impossible not to travel” 🙂 Many lovely journeys everyone!

    June 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm
  24. Hahaha, well done. Unfortunately I know too many people who would read this and completely agree with many if not all the points. And being American, I eat much healthier when I’m on the road in foreign countries. It took me no time at all to put on over 10 pounds when we came home from our year long RTW. Stupid American portions. And fat. And sugar. And yummy goodness.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm
  25. Have to laugh at this Andy! Number 9 can certainly be super-frustrating.

    Anyway, who wants to be so boring as to invest in a house or a car? Make travel your paying work and that takes care of number 2 too 🙂

    June 2, 2010 at 9:20 am
  26. Great article – thanks! So true, and yet, it all gets overlooked by those of us who love travel, but becomes the mantra for those who don’t. But that’s okay – it takes all sorts, and you can’t have everyone travelling. I mean, isn’t the worst thing about travelling really all those tourists everywhere???

    June 2, 2010 at 9:27 am
  27. Brazilian André #

    I´m very happy to read that from you. So we dont have the risk to see you around here, wich would be very nice!

    June 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm
  28. Sorry André, Brazil is near the top of my list of places to visit. I’ll let you know when I’m in town 😉

    June 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm
  29. I get that travel writing gets overly hacky-sack-circle dreamy at times, but this feels like an uncommitted stab going the other way, admittedly contrarian. Who says travel is only what happens overseas?

    I think I can refute all 10 points with one sentence: Travel is a way of life not a destination.

    Pretty dreamy, I know. But I believe it.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm
  30. Thanks for dropping by Robert. I do, of course, agree with you, and I guess my lack of conviction comes from my attempt at arguing against my own beliefs.
    The essence of travel, as you suggest, is something we can live by every day, whether at home, by our desks or out on the road. It’s about curiosity, openness, tolerance and respect (and other stuff I’m sure that I haven’t yet worked out). Appreciate the comment.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm
  31. Ha! I loved this post…especially #4, hard hitting as it is its still very true.

    June 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm
  32. Great article.When one day you are awaking too old for doing anything you will see that you haven t seen nothing of this world.”Human is a human when is on the road”,some poet said.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:58 pm
  33. You really got me thinking! I think I will stop travelling…. NOT 😉

    August 4, 2010 at 9:06 am
  34. Yeah, I don’t see you stopping anytime soon either Melvin!

    August 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm
  35. This is all extremely true and I am sure the list could go on for a while longer. But if you have the travel bug, none of it matters. Just as all the “dreamy” posts, all the images and travel shows can’t put love for travel in the hearts of those who just don’t need it!

    As for traveling being a bad thing – it affects all sorts of relationships – relatives, friends, you seem to never have time for them because you’re always gone 🙂 Thank God for email and postcards 😛

    August 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm
  36. Ya gotta add getting sick on the road — which HAS to happen more often than back home, doesn’t it?? And getting sick in a foreign environment does have a tinge of suckage that is much worse than having it happen back in your home ground.

    Great post. Loved it. And am ready to get on the road in a couple weeks!!

    August 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm
  37. Krivan #

    Very very true.
    The part when people don’t speak english isn’t a problem though. The problem would be that cultures are more and more looking like each other, and more and more people speak english.

    And you forgot a very important point:

    11. TRAVEL IS SELFISH
    You do things for yourself, you don’t work, you don’t contribute to the society. I’m talking about permanent travellers or very long terms travellers here. They try to spend as less as they can, they don’t do any kind of productive work for society (except the few that go for humanitarian work and not just to enjoy travelling everywhere) and you take advantage of locals.

    November 3, 2010 at 12:50 am
    • Gibo #

      That’s BS… alot of people work while they travel

      March 10, 2012 at 10:03 am
  38. Does that mean there will be one less traveler on the road this winter? :)……….Good, funny post. There is some truth to some of these, so I’m not going to over analyze any of them 🙂

    November 3, 2010 at 2:07 am
  39. Great tongue-in-cheek post, though I do actually agree a bit with #3 — and wish more people would do more overland traveling as a result. No need to hop short little commuter flights when trains and buses are out there and much better for the environment.

    November 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm
  40. Actually travel really is all that and more! Therefore, my policy is to a get a job thats has loads of travel or sends u somewhere different everytime, so u r actually doing something constructive and maybe giving something back to society rather than feel guilty about the CO2 emissions and the short stay that just might not be enuf to get warm with the locals! 🙂

    May 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm
  41. I love, love, love this post – mainly because I think I’ve had people say every single one of these things to me when trying to convince me that travelling is not a ‘real’ life and that I really should be focusing on career, kids and mortgage. The only one I do feel bad about is #3 as I have probably run up a pretty bad carbon footprint by now.

    It does make people who travel seem a bit crazy though 🙂

    June 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm
  42. Could you add a few more reasons? Then maybe the planes won’t be so full and airfare will drop!
    Then the rest of us can get on with booking more adventures!!

    June 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm
  43. Haha love it! Hey they’re all true! There’s one reason though that outweighs all the cons listed above — Travel keeps me sane! You can’t do anything with all the time and health and money that you save (by not traveling) if you’re not sane! 🙂

    Nice post!

    July 2, 2011 at 1:24 am
  44. HAHA! All points are oh so true! This is something we should reread when saving for the next trip seems to be taking forever! 🙂

    July 4, 2011 at 8:04 am
  45. Alana #

    As a fellow travel writer and extreme travel enthusiast, reading something like this was a slap in the face.

    It’s SO true! Haha… And yet, we still do it! Over and over again! I only work for a very small business, so my travel still comes out of my own pocket. And as all my friends are slowly starting to put deposits on houses, I’m wandering around counting the pennies in my pocket, wearing ripped and torn jeans from three seasons ago!

    And it’s not as though I have the great stories to share with the people back home, because non-travellers just don’t understand what it’s like to travel. They’ll smile and nod, and offer the supportive laugh to your interesting travel anecdote, but only fellow travellers will truly understand what it’s like. So in order to share these stories, you need to travel again to find fellow travellers!!! It s a vicious little cycle.

    With that all said and done, here’s to a lifetime ahead of long queues in airports, uncomfortable bus seats, eating strange animals, living in the same clothes for years at a time and having the best time of my life! 🙂

    August 12, 2011 at 1:11 am
  46. But the worst thing about travel, Andy, is drawing the final line – processing all the thousands of pictures, writing up a narrative piece AND putting the two together in some logical way. Especially if your real job is nothing related to travel and every minute spent on your cherished hobby comes at a price. The Client’s price, most of the time.

    And yet. And yet : )

    October 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm
  47. Ravi #

    Travel is hazardous too! especially if you are narrow-minded bigot (which you proved beyond doubt), silly, prejudiced (you said, “they don’t speak English”). Stay home smell your own cool fart filled air.

    October 31, 2011 at 9:34 am
    • Thank you Ravi. Your comment has made my day 🙂

      October 31, 2011 at 9:46 am
  48. Hilarious – it reminds me of my Dad (no offence – Dad). He seems to think he can sit in front of the TV, see all the beautiful places there are in the world at the flick of his remote and give his opinions without getting out of his armchair. A fun read Andy!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:58 am
  49. So much fun reading your article! 😀
    After having lost a nice job opportunity because I had serious travel plans for the certain time I would have had to start the new job… I can clearly say: who cares! You have to travel when you have to travel! It’s aboput priorities. Let them have their’s… and enjoy your trips 😉

    February 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm
  50. Thanks for the funny comments Karen and Claudi. Like you I’ve heard these views said for real by others. Each to their own I guess….

    February 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

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