Perhaps there is something in human DNA that makes us love traveling. Early humans were nomadic, following the game and better climates.
And travel can provide greener pastures still. Or it can waste your time and your money.
Why Do You Travel?
Do you travel for pleasure and entertainment? Do you travel to learn and grow? Do you travel to meet new people, see old friends, and strengthen relationships? Do you travel for work?
There’s nothing inherently bad about traveling for any of these purposes. Usually, it is some mixture.
But there is one terrible reason to travel. For selfies.
The Worst Reason to Travel
Take your selfies, I certainly do. You are on a trip, you are excited. There is nothing wrong with taking selfies. The problem comes when the selfie is the end in itself.
Selfies are just an example. These days the ability and desire to travel are powerful signals. Being a traveler suggests wealth, education, a sense of adventure.
But traveling is expensive and time-consuming. Are those resources going to the right place?
I’ve been 100% guilty of using travel for the wrong reasons.
Last year I went to the most amazing conference I have ever attended. It was the second year in a row I attended the Blacksmith Entrepreneurship Camp (or Sovereign Academy) in Trakai Lithuania. The most interesting people I have ever met attended, from all over the world.
Then I flew to Stockholm Sweden. By myself. It was expensive. And though the city is beautiful, I honestly didn’t have that much fun.
What did I get from it? Another cool location to add to my list to impress people with. I wasted time and money to get a few good Instagram pictures. But what was the return on that investment? Just a few dozen likes and a temporary high from the attention.
What did I miss out on? The opportunity to continue hanging out with the most amazing group of people.
I fell prey to that urge to impress people with my travel. I could have been connecting with people through my travel.
The Best Reason to Travel
I attended the camp again this year, just last weekend. And as I write this I am sitting at a table with co-workers, old friends, and new friends. (Plus, I still got some great Instagram pictures.)
The word networking does not do the concept justice. Networking is impersonal and includes specific objectives.
When you are traveling for work, you will have specific goals and tasks.
But when building relationships through travel, having too rigid an objective can ruin the necessary organic nature of a relationship.
Take it slow, and just genuinely enjoy getting to know someone. Make sure you actually like being around them. If you enjoy your time with an interesting person, it doesn’t matter whether something comes from it later. It was valuable at the moment. But it is also more likely that these relationships grow into something amazing, opening more doors, and presenting new opportunities.
If you don’t actually value a person as a friend as opposed to someone you can use for something, then forget about it. This is easy to see through. Genuine people will be much more successful in building meaningful relationships.
And once you have a solid network of friends, opportunities present themselves. You will enjoy doing a favor for a friend because you genuinely like the person. It makes you feel good to make their life easier or provide them with something they need. And you are in a position to best know what that is that they need by getting to know them on a deep level.
It isn’t some cold calculating decision about how you can provide value and get something in return.
And it isn’t just about how many people you know. It is about quality not quantity.
But these people are from all over. It is so easy to relocate these days. A high-quality network will be distributed around the world. All opportunities are not in one place.
And while there are plenty of ways to stay in contact, face to face interactions are still unbeatable in terms of building friendships.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go on a fun or relaxing vacation.
And I am not criticizing anyone for documenting their trips with selfies. I do the same.
All I am saying is be honest with yourself about why you are doing it.
If you enjoy the solitude and adventure of solo traveling in Stockholm, there is nothing wrong with that.
But personally, I was not being honest with myself. And now I choose my travel based on the people versus the location.
I don’t go with a specific objective in mind. I don’t have a pitch. I just love learning. And establishing deep connections and friendships with people provides a fountain of knowledge.
Not just about their area of professional expertise. But also their life experiences. How did they deal with similar problems that you might have? What have they been exposed to that is entirely foreign to you?
Everyone is different, and that is part of the point. Hearing different perspectives gives me what I need. And to hear those perspectives, to have a deep enough connection that the profound surfaces, often requires a trip to build that relationship in person.
And since the point is new perspectives, I would love to read in the comments your views on the subject.