I have traveled 31 times internationally and 67 times locally (as of date). That’s a little over 110 flights around 4 continents and across the Philippine archipelago. About 80% of these trips were because of tennis competitions, and the remaining 20% were for vacations. The list of memorable experiences (both the good and the traumatizing ones) from these trips could go on and on and on.
Overall, traveling is a great experience! It gives you a taste of different cultures, challenges you to learn from adventures and other people, establishes friendships, and encourages you to go beyond your comfort zone. Personally, I believe that God ordained such opportunities to teach me lessons on how to relate with different kinds of people, how to live independently yet knowing when to ask and give help, and how to appreciate the opportunities itself. I also appreciate people and friends who share their travel experiences and memories for the purpose of information and meaningful discussions.
But to be honest, traveling is not everything.
The purpose of traveling gets messed up when one’s motives become swayed by self-gratification (1 John 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 5:6). By this, I mean:
- Traveling for the purpose of showing-off, gaining likes in the social media or keeping up with the trend
- Traveling to fill a void or emptiness within
- Traveling as a way to escape problems or cure dissatisfaction
Traveling per se is not a sin. But it is important that we re-evaluate our motives in doing so.
Around mid-February of this year, I made a foolish decision to book a flight out of the country for the purpose of point #3 (to escape problems) with a little bit of #2 (to fill a void within). It was so impulsive that I did not even pray about it nor did I seek a wise counsel. I just felt the need to feel better about myself because I did not like the circumstances going on around me that time.
It was only when I was out there that I realized how arrogant I was for thinking that I could satisfy myself with something worldly and temporary. Sure, I enjoyed visiting the famous tourist destinations of that country. Yes, the trip made me happy. But there was no joy from it. I still came back home restless and unsatisfied. Indeed, I held on water instead of seeking the One who can truly satisfy (John 6:35; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 107:9).
One Christmas season, my family and I visited a touristy island in the Philippines. As we were enjoying a particular activity, I caught myself clinging onto my phone in order to capture an “Instagram-worthy” shot instead of appreciating the experience we were having as a family. Self-consumed, I had motive #1 with me — trying to gain likes; keeping up with the trend. Right after God reminded me that social media is a platform for the gospel, not for self-advertisement, I deleted the post.
In an article entitled “Is Wanderlust Your Hidden Idol?”, there was a quote there that says, “Wanting to explore the world isn’t sin, but worshipping what’s created over the Creator is.” This is in reference to Romans 1:25 which says, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
I have a friend whom I admire because of her meek perspective towards traveling. She has traveled to more than 50 countries around the world! But what is unique about her is that she does not occupy her life with it. She does not even want to identify herself as a traveler!
This friend can definitely afford to create her own travel blog and has every right to share all her travel experiences. I actually once encouraged her to create one and even assured her that I will be a subscriber and a supporter of it. But her response surprised me: “Life is not meant for mere worldly escapades.”
My friend later on implied that letting everyone know that she travels a lot is not part of her personal conviction because she did not want to take any hint of credit or glory from the undeserved blessings that God has given her. She also shared to me how traveling is only a bonus in this short-lived life. This is why she highly cherishes experiences from it, but never goes gung-ho about it.
Sure, my friend posts travel photos (in private mode) to share to her closest friends, captioned with some valuable information about the trip. She also helps others when it comes to planning for a trip. But never did I witness her brag or humblebrag about it. This makes her more admirable.
Once I shared with her two of my dream destinations. Though she has been to these places already, this was her wise response to me: “That’s nice. But seek God’s confirmation first. Do not rush it nor force it. To be able to travel to those countries will definitely be amazing, but nothing is more amazing than to be in the center of God’s will.”