As you know, this blog is run by travel lovers. But what happens when you’re not one?
For a change in pace, I interviewed “Julian Child*”, a self-proclaimed travel hater. He’s a 25-year-old graduate student living in Boston, but born and raised in Chicago. Why is he the way he is? How could someone hate traveling so intensely?
Elias: So, you hate traveling. Why?
Julian: Because it’s stressful and I have anxiety about traveling. It’s never something I was raised to enjoy. I didn’t travel much growing up. The only place that we ever went was about an 8 hour drive to visit family.
Elias: Is it the travel process that you hate (i.e., flying)?
Julian: I hate flying, not because I’m afraid of flying, but because it’s so beaurocratic. It makes me actually angry. It feels like getting to the destination is a lot of work. I like riding in cars better because it feels like I have more control, but it’s hard to get many places by car. Also, I hate committing to a date; I feel very limited by that. I prefer to do things more spontaneously. I also hate feeling like I’m stuck somewhere. I guess I’m stuck at home, but I don’t feel stuck because it’s just home, you know?
Elias: What about when you’re traveling to see friends or family, not a destination?
Julian: I usually end up resenting the friend or family I’m visiting, if I’m being completely honest ::laughs::. I usually think it’s a really good idea until it’s imminent, then I resent that I made plans to go do it.
Elias: What about once you’re there?
Julian: Then I’m counting down the days to go home, but if I go somewhere that feels like home, like my parents’ house, then I don’t even want to go back to my apartment. I would travel if I could teleport.
Elias: What’s the appeal of not traveling?
Julian: I feel like I have more control over where I am. Like when you go to a party that you don’t really feel like attending, you can always just say, “well i don’t have to stay.” When I’m in a new space and I don’t know how or when I’ll get home, I think, “Okay, this is it, this is where I die.” I actually get convinced that I’ll never get home again. And I can’t really recharge. Maybe I’d like to travel more if I knew that I had a space I could go to by myself, like a hotel room i didn’t have to share. But I can’t afford that. I’m also not very good at planning things. If someone else plans it, and all I have to do is show up, then I’m fine. Well, not fine, but better.
And with travel, it’s so expensive, and there’s so much arranging, and you have to consider so much–and I feel like it’s just not worth the trouble.
Elias: What was the worst trip you’ve ever taken?
Julian: My worst trip was probably this one time I went to a conference in Iowa. I went with three friends, and one of them was a nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did, and we don’t talk to one of the people we went with anymore. The joke is that when one of us will say, “Hey, remember that time we went to Iowa,” the other says “sort of? I know it’s a line on my CV, but I must have blacked out.” We just pretend that it never happened.
Elias: I personally view travel as an important way to enrich my life. What do you think about that?
Julian: I have trouble with ethical traveling, and I haven’t worked through it all. I don’t want to be a voyeur of someone else’s culture. My mom used to hate-watch this show with Gwenyth Paltrow where she visited other countries and kind of fetishized them and talked about yoga etc. I don’t want to be like that.
I feel like I need to do a lot more work before I would ever go off and see the world, and without it, I wouldn’t feel happy with myself, or like I was doing it right. As a White American, I need to really consider the implications of visiting these places, consuming their cultures, their labor, and just moving on.
I study immigration at the US/Mexico border, and I think it’s important to see the border as I continue to do this work but I feel like I need to improve my Spanish (I’m at high school level ability right now) and do more ethical work before I just go there. I feel like it’s important that I see these things if I’m going to write about it.
Also I think that before anybody travels, they need to address how they’re capable of doing it. And they need to be really clear about what they’re doing there and why they’re there.
One of the things I would have to address is that I’m not financially capable of traveling across the world. The only way I’d be able to do that would be through grants and scholarships that I do have access to, but those grants are often really problematic/imperialist, and how I personally have access to those things…I would almost feel better if I were using my own money.
Elias: So where have you traveled?
Julian: Until recently I’ve only traveled within the United States. I went to Puerto Rico for a conference. (Yes, I know it’s a commonwealth of the U.S., but we really need to stop colonizing). I’ve done a fair bit of continental U.S. traveling, I guess. Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kentucky, Oregon, and Iowa, but I choose not to remember that one.
Elias: Thanks for your thoughts!
*Name changed to protect interviewee from aggressive travel enthusiasts