In Stories/ Travel

Where You Aren’t Is Better Than Where You Are

A beach in the Philippines. Do you believe you’d be happier in a tropical locale? Or are you convinced you’d have a better life in a cooler place?

The title of this post is not true—but I bet you sometimes think it is. It’s easy to romanticize a place when you’ve never been to it. I was reminded of this, oddly enough, when I was getting a pedicure in Lewiston, Idaho. The salon owner was asking me about my camping trip, and when I mentioned I’m from Florida and have been camping for more than 30 days, the salon owner’s husband and some other people in the salon turned their heads my way.

One woman sitting in front of me (we’ll call her Jane, since I didn’t get her name) said, “Oh my gosh, I bet that’s so fun!” Other people then kept asking me questions about the trip. After their curiosity died down, I heard Jane ask the salon owner’s husband Steven where he and his wife lived before Idaho.

“Hawaii,” he said.

Hawaii?” Jane asked in amazement. “Wow, it must have been so hard to leave!”

“Nope, I just got on a plane and left. What’s so hard about that?” Steven quipped.

“I’d love to go to Hawaii someday,” she sighed.

“Me too,” I added.

Steven just scoffed and said, “Everything there is touristy and fake. I’m sure Florida is much better.”

“Florida’s hot, humid, and flat,” I whined.

Steven’s wife then went on to tell me how she wished she lived in Florida. “I wanted to move there when we left Hawaii,” she said as she painted my nails. “But we ended up here in Idaho because of him.” She jerked her finger toward Steven accusatorily.

I couldn’t help but laugh at our entire conversation. Each of us thought one place was better, but the person from that place didn’t like it.

I’m starting to wonder if that’s the real reason people travel. We say we do it to experience other cultures, appreciate the world’s beauty, or get to know other people, but maybe we travel because we have this innate and useless fear that we are missing out on something better than what we already have. And as my conversation in the salon made obvious, what we think is better isn’t always better. It all comes back to that common human tendency to undervalue what we have and overvalue what we don’t have.

So if you can travel, that’s great. But if you can’t, that’s great too. Next time you complain that where you live is too hot (or too cold) or too humid (or too dry) or too cloudy (or too sunny), just remember that there is probably someone out there who would love to be where you are.


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  • Elaine Schoch
    May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    This made me smile. It’s very true. I love to travel, one of the best things about traveling is coming home. =)

    • Amy
      May 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Hey Elaine! Thanks for commenting. I love your sentiment, “one of the best things about traveling is coming home.” As much as I love being on the road, sometimes all you want is your old familiar bed and your friends and family. :)

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