Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Why Travel?

People travel for different reasons.

My parents travel mostly for shopping purposes. Which meant when I flew back home with them during the recent trip, we came back with an additional 3 fully-packed pieces of luggage full of shoes and clothes and such. As someone who doesn’t really indulge in shopping, I can’t relate to this, and in fact it runs anathema to my philosophy of always packing as little as necessary when travelling.

Then there are people I know (mostly younger people) who seem to be travelling every weekend or every other weekend and they’re always at the beach or some tourist spot or exotic location. I find this difficult to relate to as well, not only because that seems like an unnecessarily expensive lifestyle, but if you’re “getting away” every weekend, won’t that sort of thing become routine?

In general, I don’t view travelling as a vacation or as a rest period. Travelling is expensive and stressful and can be anxiety-inducing. Not my idea of vacation or rest. For me travel is either purposeful (usually for me that means either work trips or playing Magic Grand Prix), or as a tourist (something I’ve only started doing as recently as the last 5 years).

I think the real value of travel is in getting a chance to step away from your daily routines. Stepping out from your usual environments and the familiar culture around you and immersing in something different. Experiencing something different lets you challenge your own culture and world view.

And when we come back from our travel, when we reacquaint ourselves with what we had before, we get to see our old rhythms and comfort zones with fresh eyes. What used to be routine may look different in light of recent experiences. When resuming old habits we get to ask a fresh set of “Why?”, “Do I really need this?”, or “Could this be done better?”. We gain a newfound appreciation of things we missed. And hopefully, we are changed for the better.

I think that’s where the value is. We travel so we can be forever changed.

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