Why Do Humans Travel?

Nothing beats a bit of pseudohistory and telling stories as they shouldn’t be told; whilst debating whether I really have the time to expand my blog into a fully-fledged football blog and add stories from Barcelona, Iceland, and China, I came up with the idea of trying to internally understand why humans have this need to travel. I’m not very good at keeping things internally, so I had to pass on everything I’ve learnt in my pursuit of understanding why humans travel.

Throughout history, humans have travelled far and wide in pursuit of unexplored land, as well as trying to find ways of spreading the word of God/science – delete as appropriate. I know not all my readers believe in God, but I’m also aware some readers believe God is the be all and end all and nothing happens without God’s input, so as to not offend anyone, I’ll be as impartial as possible.

From the moment we’re born, we’re told travel related stories including:

  • Phileas Fogg travelling around the world in 80 days.
  • Genghis Khan marching from Mongolia to China to Russia in his pursuit of a dynasty.
  • Christopher Colombus going the wrong way and discovering the West Indies.
  • Neil Armstrong and his astronaut buddies walking on the moon.
  • Three Kings trekking across the dessert after seeing a star signifying the birth of Jesus.
  • Millions and millions of Muslim’s travelling to Mecca every year to perform Hajj.

The above examples are in no particular order.

What is the meaning of travelling? Some say we travel every day when we go to work. I travel 50 minutes via a self-driven automobile. I pass others who use legs to travel to work. Some use bikes. I’ve never seen anyone ride a horse to work, or cartwheel down a hill on their way to work, but I wish there’s someone out there who does both of those – maybe not at the same time.

Before I could understand other humans, I first had to understand myself. Why do I travel?

I travel to explore. I spent 22 years in Manchester before seeing what the world has to offer. 22 years in one place when there are approx. 4,400 cities with a population of over 150,00 scattered in all regions of the Earth. I want to see new land; I want to see things people can only dream of seeing; I want to go where no man that I know has ever gone before.

When I landed back from China, I was met by Emma. Emma brought me cakes and dropped me home. I was then forced to go to a wedding. Imagine the jet lag I was feeling and on top of that I had to socialise with people. It got me thinking, if I was living outside the UK, would I ever come to Manchester? Not really. There is literally nothing to see in Manchester once you’ve seen it all.

I’m a modern-day explorer. My purpose of travelling is to not only see sights other people haven’t seen, but it’s also to taste food other people won’t ever have the satisfaction of tasting. For example, Chinese food in China, otherwise known as food, does not taste like Chinese food in England. It tastes more authentic. Chinese food in England has been designed for the English palette, which for some people is a soggy kebab after a night out or a Maccies at 3am.

Unlike the British hundreds of years ago, I don’t travel to conquer; however, Genghis Khan did. Hitler did the same thing. It’s recently been suggested to me, whoever brings Hitler into a discussion first automatically loses. If you’re reading and were privy to that conversation, I’d like a chocolate for giving you a shout-out.

So, I realised I explore to try new food and see new sights. It was quite easy given I like food, I like travelling, and I like to eat lots of food.

But, what about other people? I want to know why humans travel, not just me. I decided to look at a few people who are close to me and I know travel quite regularly.

I started with my bro, Lorna. Why does she travel? I think she likes to explore. She’s far too small to take over a country by force. She knows she’s going the right way and won’t stumble upon undiscovered land and name it Lorna Land. She’s not made a silly wager that is impossible in the real world. Lorna likes to explore. Lorna is an explorer. This was quite easy, but it didn’t give me any answers because if we take the food away from my exploration, then me and Lorna are the same. I’m a modern-day explorer because of the addition of food.

Then I moved onto my best friend, Glass. As I’m behind on my updating my blog, Glass will actually pop up in another post, but this is her first appearance. Glass is an educator. She travels the world not only educating herself but educating other people. Were the Three Wise Kings educators or were they simply a group of people who believed in what the stars told them and got lucky? I know she’s not religious. Do people travel the world to educate? Is that why humans travel? Was Genghis Khan educating the world on his principles? Hitler tried to do the same thing. This is where I became unsure and needed to delve deeper into my pool of friends to see why humans explore.

Moving onto Edward. Edward is a friend I had in high school. We now no longer speak, but Edward sent me a message several years ago, a few years after we finished high school to which I did not reply because I didn’t see it, so I’ve always kept an eye on his social media. Recently, I saw he went to Barcelona with a group of friends, came back to Manchester, and got on another Ryanair flight to another city. I was too busy not caring at this point to try and figure out the city and too lazy to ask him where he’d gone. Is Edward an explorer? I don’t think I’d class him as an explorer as he hasn’t given himself time to appreciate the wonders he would’ve witnessed in Barcelona. So, what is Edward?

The one thing I did notice about Edward’s social media posts, he was always with friends. This was interesting. Lorna travels with her boyfriend. Edward travels with his friends. I travel alone, the reasons behind this I will expand upon in another post. Are a group of friends really explorers? One suggests an idea and the others follow. Did the group make the idea? How did they choose a destination? It’s hard enough choosing a destination when you’re on your own, never mind a group of you having to make a choice everyone is happy with. That’s when it hit me. That’s when I got the answer as to why humans travel.

Humans travel because we like to. No, that’s wrong. Humans travel because we want to. No. Humans travel because we want to have new experiences with our friends. There’s only so many times you can go to the same pub over and over again and think it’s exciting you’re wasting your Friday nights drinking the same pint in the same pub with the same music.

You need a change of scenery. You need the same type of drink in a different country, but the people have to be the same.

Humans travel because we want to experience our lives in a different setting.

Think about it. You go to Spain and you’ll order a San Miguel with a Fanta Lemon. You go to France and you’ll ask the waiter for their best red wine to compliment your meal. You go to Ireland to try their Guinness. You go anywhere in Europe, anywhere in the world, and you measure the state of their economy and whether or not it’ll be an enjoyable holiday by the price of a pint.

You go to Ibiza, listen to the same music you’d hear in Tiger Tiger on a Tuesday night, stagger back to your hotel at 4am, wake up and sit on your bed with a massive hangover. It’s the same thing you’d do if you were at home.

Let’s take this theory and apply it to our scenarios from before:

  • Phileas Fogg travelling around the world in 80 days.

What did Mr. Fogg really do? He travelled on a train from London to Brindisi, Italy, and a boat from New York to Liverpool. In between, he was in several countries riding trains and boats. He was experiencing his life in a different setting.

  • Genghis Khan marching from Mongolia to China to Russia in his pursuit of a dynasty.

As this involved the killing of over 30 million people, we must tread softly. What was Mr. Khan trying to accomplish? He simply wanted the world to live under Mongolian rule. He wanted to spread his values throughout the world. He wanted to experience his everyday life in a different setting. He wanted to eat Mongolian cuisine in the Kremlin.

  • Christopher Colombus going the wrong way and discovering the West Indies.

Mr. Colombus went the wrong way. Imagine you took a wrong turn, the results would be disastrous. I was on my way to work, took a wrong turn, and now I’ve got no job. We actually celebrate a man who went the wrong way. I can’t even begin to describe what Colombus was attempting to do because from the offset he was doing it wrong. Why did he want to go to India? Unfortunately, my theory cannot account for individuals being incompetent, so by his tomfoolery, Mr. Colombus is an exception to the rule. He is an explorer in every sense of the word.

  • Neil Armstrong and his astronaut buddies walking on the moon.

I’ve walked on Earth, now let’s walk on the moon. Let’s see if we can inhabit the moon so we can experience our lives in a different setting. We’re trying to do the same thing by sending manned spaceships to Mars. We don’t want to explore Mars; we simply want to know if it is capable of sustaining human life, so our species can survive.

  • Three Kings trekking across the dessert after seeing a star signifying the birth of Jesus.

And this is where it could get a little messy. Imagine you were the fourth King the Three Kings asked. Would you question their sanity? Why are Kings interpreting astronomical events in such a way? What were they going to do if their prediction was wrong? Luckily for them, Jesus was born, but how does a star tell you this. Surely, there would’ve been word about a miracle baby.

Most pregnancies generally last for 9 months, but the Bible does not state Mary’s pregnancy term. Funnily, the Bible doesn’t actually tell you how many wise men there were, whether they were actually kings, when they arrived, or if they were actually wise. A lot of questions for a travel story so important to many people around the world. Maybe we’ll get a sequel, or would it be a prequel. New Testament, Old Testament, Borrowed Testament, and Blue Testament.

Whoever travelled to see Jesus did not do it to experience their life in a new setting. Real explorers, even if answers are needed.

  • Millions and millions of Muslim’s travelling to Mecca every year to perform Hajj.

And this is where it could get even messier. Muslim’s go to Hajj because it’s classified as a pillar of Islam; one of the things recommended you do before you cease to exist and become a faded memory destined to have an end point when the youngest person to have seen you in person and to have a physical memory of you, dies. Nice thought.

I’m not going to go into what is Hajj and why Muslim’s flock to Mecca every year, but is it really worth it? Not everyone can afford to go, not everyone wants to go, some even come back less religious than they were when they went. But why do people go? People go to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. Then they go again next year. Is it really once in a lifetime or is it now a marketing tool by the Saudi Arabian Government who have realised they’ve got Muslim’s eating out of their hands…

Again, this is about why we travel. It’s an experience, it’s something you have to perform in one place. You can’t do Hajj anywhere else on the planet; you can read your five prayers anywhere on the planet, but the act of Hajj is sacred to Mecca. Real explorers.

My examples were really a mixed bag and neither agreed nor disagreed with my theory. It was very much 50-50, which wasn’t supposed to be the case when I started writing this as I wanted to be as bias as possible. That didn’t happen. I’m not sure whether to end this blog post on the note that I started off wanting to seek answers as to why humans have this inner need to travel and ending up not really getting any answers.

I created my own theory. Used some examples. Had an internal and external debate. Maybe, the answer doesn’t lie in the theory of travelling, but in the theory of humans. There’s a reason why humans are the dominant force on Earth. We’re unpredictable. You can’t predict what a human does next. Statistics don’t count. Ultimately, and I know this is a terrible thought to end on, humans travel simply because we can.

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