Lies Someone Told You: “Travel the world”

To a fair extent I can say I’ve “travelled the world”

And I can also tell you that if someone is saying to you “I can teach you how to get rich, travel the world, and live the life” he/she is trying to sell you something, and you better beware.

By the way this post is part of our series “Lies People Tell”

/ I would link to prominent examples of such lies, but that would help them rank better on Google. Instead I will post about them under the tag “travel lies” /


Here’s the reality.

For one thing travelling the world is hard work. Read the horror stories. Denied visas. Stuck in airports. Robbed and penniless in strange places. Not to mention the everyday hardships of taxes abroad, language barriers, visa runs, local laws and registrations, trying to keep in touch with or even take care of extended family back in your home country, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Also, don’t die abroad – I’m not sure as I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine that it’s messy – but if you do (lol) and you are American, first have your U.S. department of State smart traveler info registered so they can tell your family you are dead.

And then there are the truly unforeseen macro/societal events. For example, just in the time that I began drafting this post until now the world has been changed again by Covid-19.

Was any of that in your guru’s “travel the world” dream?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So, let’s expose this lie.

There are two issues here, so let’s look at each. 

Number 1 is “getting rich” or “getting rich quick.” It is almost always accompanying the “travel the world” hype. (If you are going to travel you should be accompanied, so it is not surprising 😛 )

Let me recommend instead that you get contented quick.

Number 2 (appropriately number 2) is the world-travelling-is-sweet-bliss fallacy. 

Let me recommend instead that you have a strong reason – outside of your own pleasure – for extended travelling or living abroad. You will need it!

Without a strong reason you will never endure the challenges of living abroad long-term. 

To back peddle a little.

It’s true that travel will do good things for you. In my own case going to college in Japan, moving abroad with my wife to China and Taiwan, and our many visa runs has taught me many things. 

Travel is the antidote for prejudice … sort of. (First you might become more prejudiced about a certain people; but give it long enough and that will change.)  

Travel also: opens up opportunities; exposes you to new ways of thinking; increases your understanding of the world.

Of course people don’t tell you that it does all that by bashing you violently against the strange foreign-ness of another culture and then mixing your pieces with their pieces until you are out of place in both cultures. 😉

So in short. If you are going to do it. Don’t do it for fun. Don’t even do it for adventure. Do it because the mission you have in going to that strange new place is so great you can’t help but go.

And endure.

Travel the world.