Why Do You Travel?

By: The Unsettled Team 

When the famous mountaineer George Leigh Mallory, who was one of the first to attempt Mt. Everest, was asked why he was attempting to scale the world’s highest peak, he famously responded “Because it’s there… its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”

While our reasons for traveling to far flung places, or setting off on great adventures may not be as tied to some instinctive calling, or desire to conquer the universe, they usually do come from some place deeper for all of us.

Traveling with intention is our modus operandi at Unsettled. But one’s intention can be very personal and ever-evolving from moment to moment, day to day, or adventure to adventure. 

We asked members of the Unsettled team and the alumni community the root of all adventure questions: “why do you travel?” and the answers were as diverse and inspiring as our community itself. Take a look… 

“In a word or two, “to explore.” But not in some 15th century or North Face kind of way. I mean it in the most essential way: to be curious about what’s around each corner. To try a craft beer in Lebanon made from the oldest hops in the world. To sail past a Thai island that you’ve been studying on a map for months. And then to return home, to the mountains of North Carolina and see in my backyard with wide-eyed wonderment the seemingly mundane Orange-Tipped Oakworm Moth eat her way through the Southern Red Oak leaves and shit out little black leaf droppings all over my shoe and almost say out loud, “WOW! EVEN WHEN LIFE SHITS ON YOU, ISN’T IT AMAZING!” 

– Michael Youngblood, Unsettled Co-founder 

“Years ago, while covering a major political event in Cairo as a journalist, I was interviewing an older man who said something I’d never forget. “There’s no such thing as ‘the’ truth. Just my truth, your truth, and their truth.” What’s always driven me to travel is to discover new truths, to understand others’ perspectives, and to use those to inspire others to think, and perhaps even live, a little differently. Maybe it sounds a bit righteous and serious, but I don’t intend it to. I’ve had just as much fun learning the life philosophies of Senegalese surf bums as I’ve had understanding the political perspectives of former Somali pirates.” 

– Jonathan Kalan, Unsettled Co-founder 

“I travel to stay in learner mode, to see new kinds of beauty and to be surprised a lot.”

– Virginia Hamilton, Unsettled: Bali alum 

I travel to learn about different cultures, I travel to experience another land and place and to represent Samoa, I travel to become a better person and find connection, I travel to find out more about who I am and what my purpose is, I travel because my spirit animal is the Raven, which is an explorer and family protector.”

– Matt Tuapola, Unsettled: Medellin alum 

“There is no better way to put yourself entirely out of your norm and out of your comfort zone. Travel is an extreme – new, different, strange, amazing – and it’s hard to get that sudden and that intense contrast, on a visceral level, any way else.”

 – Leilani Franklin-Apted, Unsettled VP of Experience

“I travel to broaden my cultural, intellectual, political, and linguistic knowledge. I travel for stories. I travel to meet locals who take me to their favourite bars, cafes, parks and beaches — the ones you don’t find on Google maps or in guide books. I travel for stamps in my passport. I travel because there are too many places to see and I can’t stay in one place for too long.” 

– Shitika Anand, Unsettled Director of Social Media & alum 

“I travel for reminders of perspective. I adore finding inspiration from everything to the colors that people use to decorate and live their lives, to how people cherish their families over belongings, to the ways that individuals seek and express happiness despite not having much to their name. Also, food. Always food! Yet even food and restaurants in a culture and new city tell stories sometimes, reminding us of what is really important in life; happiness.” 

– Taylor Floeck, Unsettled Head of Community 

“I travel to connect with everyone and everything around. I believe I use my five senses more vividly and consciously when I do so. By traveling I learn more about myself than in any other situation giving me perspective about the world and life’s true meaning.”

– Olga Gonzalez, Unsettled: Amazon, Tuscany, Cape Town & Sailing alum

“I travel because traveling is change, and change is growth.” 

– Clari Mastronardi, Unsettled Experience Leader & alum

“I travel to shake myself awake. There is no better way I have found to remind myself of our shared humanity in this world. I don’t think anything has brought me more to life than surrendering to new surroundings and learning as I go — from finding a perfect shell on a California beach at 8 years old to sharing fresh coffee with new friends in rural Ethiopia.” 

– Naomi Matlow, Unsettled Associate Editor & alum

“I travel to explore the immensity of nature and humanity, to discover the common thread that unites us all, to open my mind and heart to the endless possibilities that surround us, to connect and nurture relationships with nature, people & myself and to expand my existence.”

– Beatriz Ayala, Unsettled: Amazon, Tuscany, Cape Town, Bali & Sailing alum 

Why do you travel?

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