By Darren Griffiths

Getting Bitten by the Travel Bug and Why That's OK

26th August 2023

There’s absolutely no cure for being bitten by the travel bug, and that’s ok, because in this article you’ll discover 9 major positives that come from travelling regularly, from massive self-development and new perspectives to the thrill of exploration and discovery, and meeting others with the same passion for adventure!

Do you love reading travel blogs and can’t wait for the travel blog subscription emails to arrive in your inbox? Secretly love watching Michael Palin? Tell travel stories nonstop from your last Euro trip? There’s no known antidote to this phenomenon, I’m afraid. The travel bug will always bite curious minds.

It All Started with Family Holidays

I must have somehow been bitten by the travel bug at a very young age. Growing up I always enjoyed family holidays to Europe and parts of my home country. I got just as excited as a child as I do now.

I especially loved the holidays in warmer climates. In fact my first was when I was 15 years old, visiting Majorca for two weeks in the summer. It was a standard British all-inclusive holiday at one of the 100s of hotels on the Spanish island.

It wasn’t exactly a cultural experience since we didn’t spend much time outside of the hotel and resort, but it definitely made a big impression on me.

I loved the intense Spanish heat, the swaying palm trees, the long golden beaches, and unfamiliar brands. We were only a two-hour flight from home but I felt so much further away.

I loved the feeling of being somewhere totally different from over-familiar grey England.

I was Always Obsessed with Far Away Culture

I hadn’t been before but the USA was so luring to me as a child. Most kids I grew up with were passionate Football fans but not me.

While my mates were watching and playing Football and other English sports, I was doing the same with US sports like Basketball and Baseball.

As a teenager, I wasn’t fond of the UK music scene. At that time it was mostly Indie and Brit Pop but their whiny Northern voices bored me to death.

Instead, I was listening to US rock bands and hip-hop artists whose lyrics about their lives were so far away from my own but I was so fascinated.

I was also obsessed with nature documentaries from all over the world. My Grandparents used to videotape as many as they could for me and I was always happy to sit and watch them for hours.

Elephants in Africa, Tigers in India, Monkeys in the Amazon, I wanted to see them all!

I was clearly a child, a teenager, and then an adult who was keen to explore other parts of the world outside of my comfortable British life. But had I actually been bitten by the travel bug? 

Then Along Came Shelley

I met Shelley, now my wife, who shared the same travel interests and outlook on life. She seemed to have the symptoms of being bitten by the travel bug too.

We both wanted to travel together so a year’s working holiday in Australia seemed the best option for us. However, we had only just graduated so we had no cash to fund any kind of trip like that.

Shelley walking the Isle de Sol, Bolivia.
Shelley walking the Isle de Sol, Bolivia

So we spent a year renting together and working hard to save for flights to Australia. To satisfy the travel bug urges during that year of hard saving we even took a cheap trip to Turkey (this is what happens when you consistently check flight prices, looking for travel deals!)

We needed a dose of something to keep us going. We couldn’t even wait just a few months. A clear symptom of two people who had maybe been bitten by the travel bug.

Then came Summer. Flight tickets in our pockets, working holiday visas in our passports, and enough cash to last a few weeks to get us settled and working in Australia.

This was to be our first backpacking experience and we couldn’t wait!

The Year in Australia

We landed in Brisbane where we spent the first few months working and saving. I remember our first morning in Australia, sitting on a bench in Brisbane’s botanical gardens.

We both looked at each other with ‘what have we done‘ expressions on our faces and started crying. It was a big deal to us back then.

We were in our very early twenties, on the opposite side of the world from our family and friends. With nowhere to live and no job.

But we needn’t have worried because it was one of the best years of our lives. We easily found work in both Brisbane and Sydney.

So while renting cheaply we could save to fund lengthy trips around many parts of Australia. We even travelled through Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand on the way home.

I also remember the day it all ended and we landed back in London. Again we looked at each other with ‘what have we done‘ expressions on our faces and again started crying.

What a pair! We were so sad that the trip had ended. We had serious withdrawal symptoms! Both of us knew that what we had just accomplished was just the start of a new type of life for us.

We had well and truly been bitten by the travel bug.

It’s Referred to as Being ‘Bitten by the Travel Bug’ for a Reason

In most cases, the travel bug infects you and will never let you go for your entire life. We’ve been infected for at least 10 years and the symptoms are just as strong now as they were from the start. Probably stronger!

Me and my grumpy Indian Camel.
Me and my grumpy Indian Camel.

We’ve come to terms with the fact that we now have to live with it. We think about travelling every single day.

Plan our lives around our trips and make constant sacrifices in order to cure our symptoms. To live our lives the way we want to.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re glad we’ve been bitten by the travel bug. And here’s why.

1. We Get to Experience New Cultures

Too many people play it safe when choosing where to go on their next holiday. A lot of British people seem to think that the only place to holiday is on the same Spanish beach resort or similar.

Somewhere they’ve probably already been to year after year. They’ll book an all-inclusive hotel where they’ll eat the same British food they eat at home.

Shelley in the markets of Marrakech.
Shelley in the markets of Marrakech, Morocco

Socialise with only British people and never leave the premises to explore what else the country they have visited has to offer.

These people have not been bitten by the travel bug. Even if they think they have. 

10 years ago I would have been happy to go to a Spanish all-inclusive beach resort but now I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Getting bitten by the travel bug has made us realise that there’s a whole interesting and incredible world out there to see.

2. The Travel Bug Encourages Us to Think Outside the Box

We try new destinations and experience new cultures. For us, there’s nothing more exciting than landing in a country like Bolivia, India or Cambodia. Somewhere that’s the polar opposite of home in every way.

While for some the familiar is the only way to holiday but for us, it’s all about the unfamiliar. The feeling of arriving at a new destination and not knowing what to expect is so exhilarating.

Not knowing what we’ll see around every corner. What type of landscape we’ll come across, the kind of people we’ll meet, and what type of food we’ll eat.

We crave this because we’ve been bitten by the travel bug.      

3. We Get to Devour New Taste Sensations

Before we started travelling, food was not a big part of our lives. Sure we enjoyed food but not anywhere near the same level as we do now.

The travel bug has taken us to some interesting parts of the world where there are all kinds of amazing foods to try.  

We don't like everything we try.
We don’t like everything we try.

There’s nothing better than visiting a country and discovering new dishes we’ve never tasted or even heard of before. Food that’s been cooked by real locals in the traditional way.

Browsing bustling food markets, smelling tempting street carts, being invited to dinner in someone’s home, and stopping off on the roadside to find the unexpected are all part of the food experience on a trip.

Food has now become such a huge part of our enjoyment while on the road.

However, there are some foods that we won’t be trying – 10 Strange Foods From Around The World That We Won’t Be Trying On Our Travels

4. We Get to Make Like-Minded Friends Who Have Also Been Bitten by the Travel Bug

Getting bitten by the travel bug has taken us all over the world and we have made some great friends along the way.

Sometimes these friendships only last a few days, enjoying their company while you’re in the same city or whatever. But sometimes they can last for years.

When you really get on with someone and make that extra effort to stay in touch.

Our lovely temporary Brazilian family.
Our lovely temporary Brazilian family

The popular choice of accommodation for travellers is the hostel. Hostels are most of the time very friendly places to stay.

There’s something about staying in a hostel that makes you more sociable than you would be if you stayed anywhere else.

Hostels also have lots of communal spaces such as a shared kitchen, lounge, or bar. So you are constantly around other people.

The assumption in most hostels is that everyone else is a like-minded traveller.

This makes it easier to start a conversation with an individual or group and there’s a better chance that you’ll have lots in common and a genuine interest in each other’s lives.

There’s a lot you can share with people who share your passions – from shared inspirational travel images, making rough itineraries for the future based on other people’s experiences, where to find a killer backpack, or the best phone for travel in whatever country you’re in, as well as the best hotel deals or new airline deals to save you money.

Back home I have lost count of the amount of empty conversions I’ve had when meeting new people. I’ll always be polite and ask them questions to show some genuine interest.

They’ll happily tell me all about themselves but it’s often never reciprocated. In our experience, this is far less likely to happen when meeting a fellow travel addict on or off the road.

5. We Don’t Make Friends with Just Other Travellers

We’ve met some amazing local people from all over the world. Whether it be an owner of a guest house, a tour guide, or just someone you happen to start talking with on the train or bus.

Lots of other cultures are so open and welcoming beyond belief. Someone you’ve just met for the first time will invite you to their home for dinner. Another will invite you to their friend’s birthday party or invite you on their own birthday trip the following weekend.

It can be fascinating to talk to locals who are from a totally different part of the world from you. Learning about their cultures, their way of life, and their country’s history.

Travel is for us, one of the most magical love stories.

6. We Get to Improve Our Self-development

Saying that long-term travel develops a person is a bit of a cliche but I think it’s true. Travel has changed us in many ways and we feel for the better.

When I was a younger traveller fresh out of University and heading to the other side of the world, the experience was a massive learning curve in being responsible and self-sufficient.

Seeing the sights in Prague.
Seeing the sights in Prague, Czech Republic

Shelley and I had to make a life for ourselves in a foreign land by finding work and a place to live. Then budgeted our spending in order to make our trip last for a whole year. 

We would not have had the same learning experience at that age if we hadn’t taken that first epic trip.

We’ve become a bit of an expert on budgeting. Both during and pre-trip. This also helps us in other aspects of our lives like when we were saving for a deposit to buy our little London flat.

We’ve even written this post on how to save money so do check it out if you need help.

7. We Get a Different Perspective on Life

Western society has become obsessed with material possessions -nice cars, big houses, the latest mobile phone, and the best curve-screened television!

They feel these things will make them happy and some will overwork themselves in a job they hate in order to afford them. Do these superficial things really make them happy?

You’ll have to ask them. We’re strong believers in spending money on experiences over possessions. Another symptom of what happens to you when the travel bug bites.

Traveling to poorer communities around the world makes you realise that none of the above is important.

People get by with very basic possessions and in most cases are still very happy. Their family and friends are what’s most important.

8. It’s Made us Extremely Grateful for what we have

It makes us realise how lucky we are to be born in a country like England. We don’t take things for granted that many other people do.

Our national health system for example. Even simple things like unlimited clean running water.

If you think about it it’s crazy to have access to as much clean water as we want when there are millions of people around the world who don’t even have that.

It sometimes blows me away that I have this plastic card in my wallet which I can stick into a wall, press a few buttons, and out comes some cash.

I know I work hard for that cash but there are people out there who work just as hard or even harder and still can’t afford to feed their families or put a roof over their heads.

You can read more about how travel changes you as a person here.

9. It’s Still Developing us as People Today

We’re learning new languages, and volunteering to help those less fortunate and I’m currently exploring ways in which Shelley and I can earn a living without being location-dependent.

Along the way, we’ll both be learning new skills which will hopefully enable us to live forever a life of travelling. We’re happily infected by the travel bug.