Travel As a Metaphor For Happiness

Traveling always looks better in pictures than it is in the moment.

I'm currently traveling through Southeast Asia with one of my best friends, Hanna Watkin, and my trip has made me think... traveling is a great metaphor for happiness.

In other words, it teaches you how to be happy.

Hanna and I are grateful people. Daily, we acknowledge the fact that we even have the opportunity to travel together, that we can even afford to live in different places, that our American and British passports are two of the strongest in the world and we require nearly no visa applications to cross borders. These are aspects of travel that I never want to take for granted and I am extremely thankful for them.

On the other side of our travel experiences, however, there are moments where we, or at least I, forget how lucky I am. Our 6-week itinerary is jam packed and we have, quite literally, the entire world at our feet and have the liberty to find a place on Pinterest and say "Let's go there."

Well, it turns out that this is both a blessing a curse. A blessing for obvious reasons, but a curse because having so many options, seems to leaves us in this perpetual state of never being satisfied.

Every place we go to, we end up in a discussion about a future destination.

"I can't wait until we get to Thailand"

"I can't wait until we get to that cool hostel in Vietnam."

We continue to move around and compare what we are currently experiencing with a thought about what's out there yet to be discovered. As a result, sometimes it seems like we are never satisfied with what we have right in front of us.

For example, I'm writing this from one of the nicest hostels we've been to on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam. When we walked in, we admired the beauty of it, but just as much so, we focused on the fact that there was no pool and how it would be perfect if only there was one.

I suppose this travel phenomenon happens to a lot of backpackers. You move so fast, always in search of the next best thing. Hoping and thinking that the next stop will be better than the last.

But, there is no way to know which part is the best part until it's over. And... does it even matter anyway? I mean, I’m sitting here on a hostel located on top of a mountain with a view of the Pacific Ocean that stretches for miles and I’m wishing there was a pool nearby… what is wrong with me?

I’m a travel junkie and I need to go to rehab.

The good news is, I want to learn from this. I still have 3 weeks in Asia and what's more, I still have a lot of life to live. This travel lesson can translate to life.

I need to be better at enjoying the moment and realizing that the word “perfect” is extremely overrated.

I need to stop looking for the perfect place and realize that where I am right now. Whether it’s dining with the Vietnamese locals, on a long boat ride on The Philippine Sea, or even when I’m sitting in a taxi with a driver who surely ripping me off.

It’s all amazing. Life is amazing. And I’m just grateful for the fact that I have all these experiences to compare to each other.

Hanna and I have met people who can’t even afford to leave their own city. It makes me think, "Why am I even so lucky that I get to leave mine?" I have seen so much of the world and I’m still so, so young.

I suppose this thought is a good one to have. I’m happy to be able to reflect, stop myself and train myself to continue an attitude of gratitude. As much as that sounds cheesy, I’m so lucky to be living this life.

3 more weeks in Asia. Grateful for it!

Edwina Koch