What's the first thing that most of us focus on when planning a trip? The destination. We search Instagram for inspiration, reference our friends and travel blogs for personal accounts, then fixate on a certain location. But in doing so we often overlook what should be the most important consideration–our why. Why are we traveling? What are we hoping to find or get out of our next trip?
While we can leverage friends and travel resources for suggested itineraries, sights, and accommodations, the only thing they can't help us identify is our why. This requires a certain level of introspection, however uncomfortable it might be, to identify what would benefit us the most at this point in time. And this turns out to be the best travel hack of all.
Picking a destination before we determine what we want out of a trip limits the experiences available to us. Rather than cornering ourselves, we should identify our why then work backward from there.
Each motivation or objective is going to generate an entirely different list of destinations. Therein lies the importance of identifying your why. If you're in need of an adventure or time to explore, a generic vacation to Florida isn't going to do much for you. If you're hoping to tune out the noise and spend some time in quiet reflection, Tokyo isn't the place to be.
What's your why?
Do you want an adventure that pushes the limits of your comfort zone?
Do you want time to reflect and reconnect with your natural surroundings?
Do you want a retreat to tune out the noise and focus on creating more?
Do you want a dose of culture and history to gain greater perspective?
Do you want to wander and test your resourcefulness?
When we fixate on certain locations, we ignore why we're traveling in the first place. It's not to cross off countries, continents, or use that list as social status. We travel to open our eyes to the world around us, build perspective, and better ourselves.
If you travel without intent and regard it only as a distraction, you'll never have anything to show for it. Travel only brings clarity if you meet your adventures with a deep level of introspection and consideration. There's no inherent value to travel and it doesn't guarantee life-altering revelations. That's on you.
Far too many people head halfway across the world to "find themselves." But the reality is that if you're unable to stare that question in the face at home, you'll end up 5,000 miles away facing the same struggle. It's a far better use of your limited time and resources to identify your why up front and use that as the launching point for your next adventure.
This is not to say that you have to have it all figured out. Anyone bold enough to make that claim is kidding themselves. There is no right answer when it comes to your why. But at the very least, you should possess the self-awareness to identify your general motivation for traveling in the first place.
Travel can either be an expensive distraction or an opportunity to better yourself and leverage the power of compound interest. The value of travel hinges on your why.
So why do you travel? What serves as your motivation? What's the purpose of your next trip? If you're able to identify why you're traveling, you'll provide yourself a much better opportunity to learn, grow, and better yourself through the experience.
If you only do one thing before taking off on your next trip, make it this: find your why.