Dahab, Egypt

My most important knowledge about traveling


Travel makes you happy? I do not think so. But that's not a bad thing.

Traveling doesn't make you happy. This is the most important insight about traveling that I have gained in the past year. It sounds pretty negative to say that. It is not meant to be.

, nach Südamerika , nach Japan und Südkorea , nach Finnland oder Sierra Leone . I traveled a lot last year: to Lebanon , to South America , to Japan and South Korea , to Finland or Sierra Leone . I had the opportunity to do so. The more you travel, the more natural it becomes. It is quite natural. This applies to everything you do in life.

I have made a name for myself in the so-called travel blogger scene. This is nice because it shows that you somehow get on with what you like to do. You feel confirmed in what you do.

But what difference does it make?

mit Spiegel Online habe ich erklärt: „Das Unterwegs-Sein wird gerne als Sehnsuchtszustand verklärt. In an interview with Spiegel Online , I explained: “Being on the go is often transfigured as a state of longing. Only the practical itineraries are often tiring and sobering. You realize that traveling per se does not mean permanent happiness, because the euphoric moments, like in life, only occur occasionally. "

It is exactly like that.

This may sound depressing to many. When I tell people about my travels or when they read about them on the Internet, there are often comments like "Enviable" or "Insanity wherever you go".

On the one hand, that's true.

On the other hand, I often felt quite lonely when traveling. I didn't know what to do with myself in the most beautiful places in the world. I racked my brains over the pros and cons of this or that lifestyle, this or that decision instead of simply enjoying the moment.

In the best case, I experienced traveling as if in a frenzy. I have not dealt with myself, but with the world and what it has to offer.

But after almost every trip, the moment came when I was sitting in my room in Berlin and asked myself: What has actually changed?

This question grew after my trip to Peru. darüber handelt von diesem Widerspruch aus Erwartung und Enttäuschung. The story about it is about this contradiction of expectation and disappointment.

In the distance, while letting yourself go, you can feel the energy of life very strongly. At home in the evening in your own apartment, the big world shrinks again. As if you had never really been away.

How can that be?

I am convinced that it is a misconception that traveling charges you with a positive energy that can change your life permanently. This may be possible if you go really long and go into existential extremes - half a year in a monastery in Asia , weeks alone through the desert, with a sailboat across the Atlantic, an expedition to a high mountain.

But ordinary, time-limited travel doesn't make you a better or happier person. It usually changes little about your posture. You carry your worries and your big questions about life in your backpack through the world. At best, you forget them for a while. But they don't go away.

That is a sobering realization. But at least for me it applies.

The ability to get on an airplane and fly away doesn't change anything.

This statement is by no means as negative as it may sound. On the contrary - it is based on an awareness that can ultimately lead to much more satisfaction than any self-discovery trip in Southeast Asia.

Just as the big backpacking tour is not a life changer , there are no other outstanding experiences such as a bungee jump, the long-awaited semester abroad in Soundso or a sports car.

It's the things we do every day that make the biggest difference in our lives. And that really contribute to greater satisfaction in the long term with our incredibly privileged life.

It is not the unique experience, the extraordinary, the extreme. But the permanence, the everyday, the constant work on yourself.

The main thing is to put off negative routines and develop habits that contribute positively to daily well-being. Usually these are very mundane things: getting up earlier, addressing people more often, listening better, always devoting yourself to one thing with full concentration.

It is about working on your interests and potentials little by little to get closer to the so-called big goals.

Recognize things as correct and then implement them.

So it's about the entire state of mind , the attitude you develop towards things and the way you live your everyday life. Every moment.

That shapes the character. Everything else is attitude.

But what to do with traveling if it is not such a great lucky charm in the long term?

Learning to travel means learning life. There is no difference.

At the beginning I wrote: Traveling doesn't make you happy. One might have to say: The possibility of being able to travel does not make you happier than normal life.

Of course, travel is often more spectacular than everyday life. Every form of variety and unusual experience leaves more memories than the monotonous sequence of getting up, working, eating and sleeping.

Probably everyone has to answer for themselves why they are traveling somewhere and not somewhere else or not at all.

I can only speak for myself: I see travel as a valuable addition to my world of experience.

This happens in very different ways. The motive for a trip can be the interest in the real life of a certain cultural area. A journalistic research. The attraction of going beyond physical limits. The need for relaxation and contemplation. The desire to evade the world. Trying to find (or find again) yourself.

I think these are good reasons.

But traveling should not be transfigured to a state of longing and elevated to a fantasy of happiness.

You should probably start every day like the big journey you hope for so much.

It may work that way at some point, to go through life more relaxed and at the same time more focused. With an open mind and open heart instead of disinterest and cynicism. To put one's own meaning before the size and abundance of things that surround you every day. Enjoying more instead of staying in endless loops of reflection about yourself.

I still don't succeed as often as I wish.

But it does not fall with a journey from heaven. It is a long way.

  1. Hans-Dieter Knebel

    That's how it is,
    wonderful the “endless loop of reflection” (primarily for “professional daughters”).

  2. Dela Biehl via Facebook

    Very good!

  3. Hello Phillip,

    a great contribution that sympathetically clears up with a few expectations of travel and its effects. Or with the exaggeration of travel as a savior and a universal path to happiness and balance. I am about to write a page about "I travel to be free / finally freedom". But I'm still struggling with the right words and linguistic images. ;-)
    In any case, your contribution has given me new brain food. Thank you.


    • Hello Martin,

      I would love to read such an article as you plan! So please stay tuned. :)

      Greetings, Philipp

  4. Wow, respect! Large text that speaks absolutely from my soul.

    Best regards

    written with light


  5. It is interesting that traveling becomes "void" for you when you are back in your own four walls. That's different for me. Not only the photos that I brought with me serve as a memory, but rather the many stories and people who have enriched my life. And I don't have to be on the road for months, it could have been 4 days in London, which then inspire me for everyday life and my work. That is why traveling is so essential for me, because I draw my energy and inspiration for everyday life from it. But yes: You should probably try to live every day in your (self-chosen) home as if it were a trip around the world. That's why I'm currently writing a travel book about Styria :)

    • "Void" may be the wrong word. But it is often the case that you are more attentive, communicative, open, courageous, spontaneous and relaxed when traveling than in so-called everyday life - all things that make you happy in the long term, but are often only "lived" during the trip.

      An example: In a foreign country I have much less inhibitions about speaking to foreign people and starting an informal conversation than at home in Germany. It's kind of strange.

  6. Tina Heuler via Facebook

    There is no better way to express it, thanks for the article!

  7. For me one of the strongest texts on travel dispatches. Thanks for that.

  8. Also from me: great contribution, very reflective and to the point.

    Basically, I think you have to differentiate and ask yourself the question: "Why do I want to travel?" Do I want to experience something? Am I running in front of any of this? Do I want it because everyone does it, because it's cool?

    I can still remember my first trip to New Zealand, alone, without a plan, I couldn't speak English. I learned about the concept of backpacker hostels for the first time. At that time it was only available in Oceania and a handful in North America.

    Not like today, just google Google and be able to surf the couch with a few clicks on 10 people. Without the internet it was a completely different number - actually better, because you have experienced and discovered more yourself instead of googling beforehand to decide whether something is worth the effort. And because quite a few do that, of course almost everyone depends on the same places. The real adventure, the unknown, the spontaneous encounter and the authentic is perhaps just around the corner.

    The increase of the whole is, of course, if you consciously hand yourself over to the world, no matter whether you hitchhike, bike, run, kayak or row. That is also the basic idea of ​​a pilgrimage. The basic idea is not to get comfortably by plane, Aircon bus or 4WD to a place that is considered to be religious, spiritual or whatever is important to perform ritual acts there, but to "expose" yourself to the world on the way there To experience things and to master difficult situations. In the past, this was actually only possible on foot, but today it can also be done in a different way. So each trip with the right attitude is a kind of pilgrimage and it is the inner attitude that distinguishes the (wisdom) seeker from the long-term tourist.

    • The matter of the Internet and omnipresent wifi is a completely different topic. With whom I completely agree with you in your explanations.

      “Exposing yourself to the world” is also the mode for me that makes a trip long-lasting.

  9. An absolutely good view: Approaching the travel and self-discovery hype in this way, by someone who really has experience. But you write: "Just as the big backpacking tour is not a life changer, there are no other individual outstanding experiences such as a bungee jump, the long-awaited semester abroad in Soundso or a sports car." The sports car is certainly not the backpacking tour can do it, and it is very often a semester abroad: the life-changer. It was the same with me and with many of my fellow students at the time. For the first time you really break out of the given everyday life of school, family, friendship and university and afterwards life often takes a different direction. Separations, moves, new love, other jobs. My life has turned completely once and would never have gone that way if I hadn't interrupted the usual university year with semesters abroad. This is also due to age (a lot changes fundamentally between 20-30) and I am also against the glorification of such charged life plans. But yes, yes: everything can change.

    • Chris, you are right. The semester abroad is a bit unfair. I also know people who have been a "life changer" for half a year. I definitely don't want to deny that to anyone!

      Certain trips have also given my life a significant turn. For example, I met someone I later fell in love with at home.

      Perhaps the point is: every experience, every trip CAN be a "life changer" - but that often has nothing to do with the trip itself, but with your own behavior. Which of course can be changed by a trip or a year abroad. But should you bet on it? Or you'd rather see how you can get through each day better - no matter where.

  10. Jürgen

    What gives me satisfaction when traveling and makes me freer and happier I often attribute to the happy state that I have no expectations of my person.
    I can do whatever I want at the time that seems right to me.

  11. I like such reflected food for thought. But of course a "but" is now inevitable;)

    You write "I see travel as a valuable addition to my world of experience." It is so. For example, you drop the knowledge that we live an "incredibly privileged life". Right. You only get this knowledge from traveling. Of course you can read a lot or watch TV programs, but seeing, experiencing and feeling something yourself is a thousand times more intense and therefore changes you more.

    You can still go a lot wrong with more experience, but more experience usually increases the likelihood of setting the right priorities and making the right, happy decisions.

  12. Thank you for your true words! It is the first article I read from you (a friend shared it on facebook), but I can understand your thoughts very well!

  13. Dear Philipp,

    thank you for this report. Great. That's why I spend the best time of the year in my garden. In the Hollywood swing, the grill opposite, and with nice neighbors at the fence. North America is my office. A great one, admittedly, but just an office where people have to work and earn money. My dream: to throw my clothes in the car at some point without any production pressure or schedule and to start without a plan. Who knows: maybe I can do it again .. :)

    Greetings from Canada, Ole

  14. thanks for this report. the most important sentence for me: probably you should start every day like the long journey you hope so much for. The greatest adventure is waiting for us to see the miracles in front of our own front door, to address strangers here too, open-heartedly, curiously and to stay here
    in U.S.

  15. "Change the line of heaven, not your innermost that crosses the sea."
    Has already noted Horace. But presumably you have to have done some things first to be able to classify them.
    And to develop a perspective for the world and your own little life in it, such a trip (and especially one with a lot of time) is a great opportunity.

  16. Yes, traveling definitely has annoying moments. This is ignored in many travel reports. And: Travel gives you a lot of freedom, for example, you have to redefine your own location again and again, but it also takes some. I often did not feel so sweaty squeezed sweaty on the plastic seat of a local bus.
    Just with your sentence, "The possibility of being able to travel doesn't make you happier than normal life." I don't come along. I assume that most residents of the former GDR saw it differently. And I feel the same way: The possibility of being able to do it makes me a little bit happy, even when I am not traveling.
    In general: I still think traveling is usually great. It enriches my life, it gives me new encounters, places and pictures. But you shouldn't overdo it.
    Martin, I'm just as excited about your considerations.

    • I see it much like you, Mathilde. If I had to choose - to travel or not to travel - I would always choose to travel.

  17. Phillipp,

    ... that sounds completely positive. Yes, very cool, if everyone would travel and start no projects, raise children and be a role model for other people, then we would deteriorate in a very short time :) In addition to the mind changing impact that travel has, there is nothing more valuable to recognize that you can get anywhere. Be happy everywhere.

    If you can establish the right conditions in your own thinking, acting and mindset.

    "It sounds pretty negative to say that. It is not meant to be like that ”

    ... nice article again;)

    See you soon,

    • Thank you Erik! Yes, imagine that no one would work in hospitals, at the airport, at the police, in the courts and factory halls, and everyone was traveling. Chaos! ;-)

  18. Pingback: Unpacking Travel: Issue 18 | GoEuro blog

  19. Hey Philipp, your article would be the perfect addition to my blog parade "What makes you happy while traveling!" ( Http://www.reisemeisterei.de/aufruf-zur-blogparade-was-macht-gluecklich-auf-) travel / )

    So, banner ad done, now my thoughts on your article.

    No, traveling does NOT make you happy. I remember situations like a night in Copenhagen when the child didn't want to rest and we wondered how stupid you really should be to make a road trip around the Baltic Sea as a family. An argument with my girlfriend in the middle of the Australian desert. The thought "well, it's not that great, why are everyone else so excited" at White Heaven Beach. On rainy city trips without a real desire to travel.

    Transfiguration is always part of enthusiastic travel reports, especially after a long journey, which then also becomes part of everyday life.

    Nevertheless, there are moments of happiness on the way that I don't have in everyday life.
    And I like to clarify them - consciously - because that too - yes, exactly - makes you happy.

    Good article!


  20. Interesting thoughts! Yes, I, too, can very well remember terribly lonely moments in the supposed paradise, places that didn't meet expectations, and sudden reluctance to travel in the middle of the trip.
    But of course it also depends on how often and how long you are traveling and what you expect from the trip. When traveling becomes a permanent state of affairs, it can certainly lose its charm and, above all, you can see that even in the most desirable places in the world there is the daily grind, stress and problems.

  21. Hi there,
    impressive and written entirely from my soul. Thank you
    Best regards

  22. Pingback: Call for the blog parade: What makes you happy when traveling? | Reisemeisterei

  23. Chrissi

    Moin Philipp,

    Thank you for this contribution! Finally someone confirmed my thoughts about “traveling”. Which does not mean that I like to be on the road myself and look at the world as long as I am able to do so. But having a place where you are at home is also very nice. And it can also be "exhilarating" if you don't let the adversities of everyday life get you down and what you learn from yourself during your travels, you can use it in your normal routine. In my opinion, that's the real challenge!

    Greetings, Chrissi

  24. Thanks for the great article.

    If you travel around the world with your eyes open and experience one or two adventures, you will return home with a lot more experience. Sure, it makes a difference whether I spend 1 week with friends at Ballermann or travel halfway around the world for 3 months. I think if you are open to new things, travel with all your senses and do some self-reflection, traveling can make a difference and make you happy. The new experiences and perspectives change you and still have an effect at home, which in turn can have a positive effect on everyday life. But as everyone knows, everyone is a blacksmith of their own luck.

  25. Anna Flo

    Great article, really great writing.
    I can fully understand.
    Was in Brazil for a month and thought that my life would change completely because you had seen / learned so much.
    Today, a year later, the whole trip seems like a dream and the feelings are fading.

  26. A very successful article! Thanks to the author!
    Traveling alone is certainly not the medicine for a happy life, but, as you have written so beautifully, the continuous tuning of its character self. But traveling can help you very well: Being on the move, for example, taught me to be really open to new people and cultures; and how lucky this trait can bring you.

    Greetings to Berlin,

  27. THANKS for your clear words and thoughts!

  28. Pingback: About traveling | Blox travel

  29. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. Heiko

  30. Hi. I have been traveling through Australia for a year and since then I have always felt that I am no longer happy. I run after the feeling of happiness and I just can't find it in normal life anymore. What do you do if you no longer know what normal life is like ?!

  31. Thank you for the great contribution! I had to read it twice! :)

  32. Nadja Munchenhagen

    Thank you and thanks again for the stimulating and clever stories.
    It is a pleasure to read them. And to read again.

  33. Hello Phillip,
    a great article! Actually, there are far too few about travel and life philosophy and what travel actually means (for everyone).
    Nevertheless, I do not agree with you on all points. I have been back from a one-year trip around the world across four continents through 20 countries in the past five months. On the surface, I'm just back to old life: old apartment, old job, etc. In fact, a lot of small things have changed for me, simply because my view has widened so much through the trip. I have completely different goals, meet other people, make different plans. The energy that gives me this is in no way comparable to my pre-arrival energy level. I don't know where that leads me to. But it feels good and I will just continue on the path :)
    With this in mind, best regards from Hamburg

    • Hello Claudia,

      maybe sometimes you just need to travel to change things at home. Because you suddenly see that there is another way. Let's agree on: Travel is not luck, but a way to get there ;-)

      Greetings from Berlin!

  34. "Regularly gets on planes to alleviate his wanderlust"

    The life cycle assessment must be devastating!

    For me it was already clear in 1983, at just 14 years old: when traveling, then only without a motor! Happy also over intercontinental distances (my absolute longing was always Afghanistan, closely followed by India), but never faster than at bike or even pedestrian speed ...

    ... which meant that I still haven't seen anything of the world, especially not India, let alone Afghanistan!

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