Existential Travelers


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” 
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Migration patterns of travelers

When we lived abroad, we often referred to ourselves as economic refugees. In other words, we called home any place where the cost of living was within our meager budget before we started to collect Social Security and pensions. But, now we realize that we are existential travelers, searching for meaning and purpose in our lives by exploring our humanness through cultural immersion in different parts of the world.

Existential migration is a new concept and a new way of thinking about what we call home. As far as my understanding, it means a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about existence by leaving one’s home base and immersing oneself in another culture, whether it is in one’s country of birth or an international destination, which makes the term “existential travelers” perfect for us.

Great Salt Lake, Utah

Home is interaction; that is the ‘feeling of home’ that arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. Our home is not a fixed geographical place. It was especially difficult for us to wrap our heads around the concept of existential migration during the pandemic, when we were unable to travel internationally. Yet, we are driven to move, to migrate, to travel to places unknown to us. We seek out existential travel to discover the meaning of our existence.

Alley Springs, Missouri

So, home became a feeling of belonging, challenging us to look at ‘home’ with eyes without borders and explore what constitutes belonging and the nature of homelessness. These were new perspectives for us as travelers beyond 60.

Ouray, Colorado

The insights we have gained from existential travel enhance our existing understanding of traveling in exciting ways. We are thriving in the experiences of foreignness…even in our country of birth. We have been able to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of each national park we call home for a short duration.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Home is where the heart is. It can be for a day, a month, a year. Home is timeless. It becomes an inward journey through our search for charitable views of humanness, kindness, and nonjudgmental perspectives.

Give me a home where the Buffalo roam

Home has become a sensation of peace and comfort, a refuge from the cold, the arms of my husband wrapped around me, and the deep feeling that we are all connected. Home is where my passions, my dreams, and my hopes reside.

What is your meaning of home?

12 thoughts on “Existential Travelers

  1. What marvelous photos, Debbie! I also am musing on your thoughts. We’ve had a home in Ohio (in both the sense of a home and a house) and then again in Illinois. We’re in another rental here but I guess home is where my husband and I are and in some way, the cabin in Wyoming is my home, even though no one can live there year ’round and we share it with my brother and his family. It’s the home of my heart, though. ❤

    janet

      • I love it because it’s in the mountains and we can ride horses there. I’ve been going there since I was in college, part of every summer with only a couple exceptions. So memories also but it’s just a beautiful place and I love mountains.

    • Katie, oh how we have missed you. Last fall, on our Covid camping trip to Yosemite, we thought of you when we were camped near Eminence. I had no way to get in touch with you and I don’t know if you are still there. Sending love and hugs! ❤️

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