Ah, Keeping Up With The Joneses – the miraculous phenomenon through which the economies of the world keep on growing and growing day in and day out. You know all about this concept, don’t you? It is when you are buying the latest iPhone not because your old phone is broken, or needs replacing, but because everyone else around you (your friends, family and mere acquaintances) either have the new iPhone and you want to be similar to them, or they will think you are absolutely awesome and admire you if you have the new iPhone.
One soggy winter day, the new iPhone 4s was released. Ah, the glorious day that it was. Thenix and I watched hundreds of people line up in New York, ready to buy the new phone, parting with hundreds of dollars for the benefit. The tech guy hosting the show went around asking the great people of the line-up the ultimate question – Why? Why are you buying the new iPhone? What feature change are you most looking forward to? A good question to be sure. I’m sure you do your due diligence when you go to buy a new item. Well, not these people, no sirree bob. They didn’t even know what new features the phone had. They didn’t care about it frankly. They just wanted the new phone. Most of them will never even use the phone for more than texting, checking Facebook, or god forbid, calling someone. But they needed the new phone. It was important!
The strange thing is that I have experienced the same Joneses phenomenon with travel.
No, it wasn’t about wanting to have the latest travel gear or anything material, but about wanting to be the one that has seen and done the most.
We meet up with other travellers on our circuit, some of whom are doing the same journey, some of whom are doing something different. But every single time, I talk to anyone, I want to know what they have seen, what they have done, and if it is better off or worse off than me.
Every single time they haven’t seen as much as me, I breathe a sigh of relief. That’s good, I’m still better than them (not really, but the ego does think so). But every time they have seen or done more than us, either in the city we are in, or in the country we are in, or on the planet as a whole, I feel ashamed, I feel regretful, I feel competitive. I want to rectify the situation right away. I want to go see the places they have seen right away. I want to do what they have done right away. Who needs sleep? Who needs food? Who needs rest? I’m going to be the supreme traveller, I will have that title.
Of course, even though I jest about becoming the ‘Ultimate Traveller’ superhero (I have a costume all planned out), this whole Joneses phenomenon is ever present and ruining travel for me.
It kind of puts a damper on all I have done or seen, because it is never enough. It is like having two iPhones in your pocket, and wanting one more just because Apple (the devils they are) came out with a newer model. It is like having a hundred pairs of shoes in the closet and wanting one more because they are newer, cooler, shinier, whatever.
For different people, the reason they travel is different. Some travel to explore new cultures, some to eat new foods, some to meet new people, some to dance to new music, some to walk, walk, walk away their grief, some to find a piece of the world that is pristine and untouched. The reasons are many and varied. But they are unique and your own. I have to remind myself that I am travelling not to compete with my fellow traveller, but to travel for the sake of travel, for the sake of growth, for the sake of learning, for the sake of no regrets at the age of 90.
– This post has been published in Mexico City, Mexico.
If you haven’t heard of the Big Trip yet, you are in for a treat. Boom & Thenix are driving a 1998 Honda Civic down to the southern most tip of South America, through the West Coast of the US, Mexico, Central and South America. We left on July 17th for this amazing adventure with the help of our sponsor Wise24. For a map of our trip so far, please click here. If you have questions about costs, visas, or anything else trip-related, please see our post on The Big Trip or check out our Archives.
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