Taking a Purpose-Less Trip

Taking a Purpose-Less Trip

I travel without a purpose.  I lack noble intentions in why I’m on this trip.  Don’t expect to find me volunteering, trying to “find myself” or checking things off a list.  In fact, go ahead and call this trip selfish on my part, you’ll only find agreement from me.  Want to argue I’m wasting my time?  Think I’m missing opportunities?  Thinking that I should be giving back?  It’s really not going to change my opinion that traveling without a purpose is better than traveling with one.

If I had set off with preconceived notions about how I would spend my time, I would have spent it exactly as expected.  Obvious as this seems, think about it for a moment.  By having no goals, no itinerary, no higher purpose, I opened myself to experiencing what will come. Too much of my former life was based on expectations, expectations that were often self-fulfilling.  Traveling this way left my mind open to learning by focusing on wanting to see, smell and experience rather than achieve.

If I had set off to volunteer, I would not have helped as much as I could.  No poor country is lacking labor, no developing country needs me to do menial jobs, play with children, or build a school. I know it’s hard to accept, but labor is abundant in poor countries.  I am completely unskilled at the things that most of these countries need: infrastructure, education, and healthcare.  To help these countries it is way more beneficial for me to give money to reputable organizations than my time.  Plus, if I’m doing physical labor such as building a school, I am taking away jobs from a community.  While I could physically be in one place for two weeks, giving my time; if I stayed home, worked, and donated two weeks of my wages I could pay a year’s salary in many developing countries.  Tell me, which is better?  Two weeks of me, or one year of employment for a local?

If I had traveled with a checklist of things to see and do, I would have missed out on trying new things.  That’s the point of travel, to open yourself to new experiences, right?  It would have been almost impossible for me to do that if I had somewhere else I “needed” to be, if I had something I “needed” to do.  Traveling with an open itinerary and mind has allowed me to do a 10-day silent meditation, climb holy mountains, discover I love religious cave paintings, and find that I too could be a beach person.  Throughout my life I’ve tended towards being scheduled, towards accomplishing goals, and being somewhere to do something specific.  Taking years off to travel I wanted to do the opposite, and in doing so learn the joys of spontaneity.

I know this isn’t for everyone, that people often feel a clock is ticking, that they “only have one life to live”.  I can’t disagree, at some point we’re going to reach our expiration date.  It is because of this I want to dedicate a portion of my life to open exploration, to not having a goal, to living for today instead of an end-goal, and to see what it is to do things differently than I had. Looking back on our first two years of traveling and forward to our next year I couldn’t be happier with the decision to lead a purposeless trip.  It has and will be fun, whatever may happen…


Mindspace.  Not being beholden to what I thought I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, or how I wanted to spend my time opened me up to consider new things.  Daily I choose what I want to do with my day, open minded, instead of based on preconceived notions.  I try new activities to learn about them with time to give them a real try.  Being rich in time I try something, then truly consider it, instead of stating, “it’s not for me” and moving on, I ask myself ” why did I not like this?”. If I were busy, with other things to do, boxes to check, and goals to accomplish, I wouldn’t have the time to properly assess experiences.  It is in this assessment that lies the lessons I can apply to my life.

This questioning has sharpened my understanding of my likes, dislikes and interests.  Taking this trip was about doing something different than normal.  I have the rest of my life to check boxes, make bucket lists, and “accomplish” something. Stepping back from the daily grind and fully accepting the opportunity this is to experiment, learn and grow is what this trip is about.  In nearly two years of continuous travel I feel fulfilled that these lessons are more valuable than any of the sights I’ve seen.


What’s your take?  Why do you travel?  Do you need a reason to do things?  Let’s discuss in the comments below…

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» Kate C :
Oct 26, 2012

Oh goodness, if I set out with a plan I’d never get anywhere! I’d feel too responsible to the plan. Without one I can take good opportunities when they come. Some years back in Cambodia I did volunteer. I fed children who live at the dump and volunteered in a Mother Theresa orphanage. But I didn’t have a clue that I’d do that when I arrived there. They just came up and that’s the way I like it.

Reasons to travel? Psh! Who needs a reason? Just go! Going is reason enough :-)

» Fae :
Sep 23, 2014

The King appoints a Prime Minister who commands a majority in the
Storting. We want to find ways to turn that up just
a little bit. Moreover you can add to your signature ‘Please consider the environment before
printing this email’.
Read Fae’s awesome post Fae

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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