Nowadays the travel industry is one of the largest in the world, with 40 million flights per year, it's one of the biggest contributors to the global GDP, and directly employs nearly 77 million people worldwide, which comprises about 3% of the world's total employment. Globally, travel and tourism's direct contribution to GDP was approximately 4.7 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020. Some people are obsessed with traveling, so much so that they base their whole lives on it. Travel vloggers and the like flood social media with pictures and videos documenting their adventures all over the world. It's often times we hear that someone's dream is to travel the world. What's all the hype about?
Every single one of us was born in a particular place, a specific country. For the most part, we grew up in that same place. Of course, some people are even born on the run in the back of a car or on an airplane in some extraordinary circumstances, but I think we can safely say that's a minority of people. Everyone has a place they can call their home.
The definition of "travel" is that one leaves his or her home and goes to another place to stay or visit. This indicates that either their home is not satisfactory or that the other place is far better in comparison. Otherwise, no-one would ever leave their home. Let's say you are eating something very nice, and I offer you something less palatable like grey slop. Most likely, you won't take it. You might give up what you are eating if I offer you something better though.
So the travel industry basically thrives on people's dissatisfaction with their situation at home. If there's not enough happiness at home, since everyone wants happiness, we go out of home to somewhere else. Traveling from country to country or from city to city is a manifestation of our state of mind. We're unsteady. Our mind is unsteady and flickering from one subject to another because it can't find satisfaction from all the varieties of material subjects which it contemplates. The mind is primary sense; it focuses on the the other senses and their perceptions. When our eyes see something beautiful, the mind focuses on the eyes and we can become temporarily absorbed in the beauty of the object we see in front of us. But sooner or later, as we all have the experience, no matter how beautiful a thing is, we become bored. No matter how tasty something is, if we eat it 100 times in a row, we don't find it very tasty anymore. On the contrary, we become disgusted with it. So our senses and our mind are finding saturation in this atmosphere of existence, and as such they are always searching after something better that they can really get into.
Similarly, since our actions are based on our thinking, feeling, and willing, our addiction to traveling starts at home; within the mind. If we are satisfied in the mind, then we can be anywhere and be happy. There's no need to be constantly searching for greener grass. In fact, as long as our mind remains without an ultimate object of meditation, we can travel all over the universe, but we will still always hanker after something better. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita;
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again." (8.16)
Death is the main thing that disturbs our happiness. Imagine you're playing some nice music in your garden, with your friends, and there's drinks and the sun is out; everything is nice. Then the last guest shows up and it's death, and he's just standing there with that scythe, and no-one's dancing with him, so he's coming to you to chat. The mood is totally killed.
So that's our life; we think we're having a grand old time, making all kinds of distractions like careers, hobbies, goals, traveling here and there, trying to be completely oblivious to that impeding and inevitable guy no-one invited to the party but he came anyway: death. In such circumstances, there isn't a single person who can be truly peaceful and steady in mind. Since everything we do and experience will be taken away by time in the form of death, our minds are always in anxiety, and as long as we have anxiety, happiness cannot be realized.
It doesn't matter where you go; from the North pole to Timbuktu to the highest planet, everywhere, somehow or other death got the invite, and he just won't give it up. I've traveled across the world as a monk, and I can say from my own personal experience that everywhere is the same. There's a little change in landscape here and there, but really everywhere you go people are unhappy and searching for something better. The people in sweltering hot countries want to visit somewhere cooler, like so many Indians who want to visit the west, and the people in cold countries get fed up and want to go somewhere warm. So the weather isn't actually the factor; it's the idea of comfort.
Traveling can know perfection if we travel to somewhere where death isn't invited. There is a place like that (sorry death!). You might not see it on any travel brochure, and the airlines might not have developed jet engines powerful enough to go there, and no-ones come back from there to tell about how amazing it is since it's so amazing no-one comes back, but it exists. And we can know about it by the mercy of the guru, or the travel agent from the spiritual world. By hearing from that transcendental travel agent about that transcendental world—how nice the people are, how the guy who runs it is really cool and His name is Krishna and He's the Supreme Personality of Godhead full of all opulence like beauty and wisdom etc.—we can develop an intense desire to go back there. And by that intense desire we can go back there. Go back there? Yes, actually that's where we are all from. As eternal souls, we belong to the eternal atmosphere. You and I and everybody else are eternal beings trapped in these temporary bodies; and that's why we travel all over this temporary world, looking for somewhere we can stay permanently. And whenever and wherever we go, we always have the tendency to gravitate back to where we came from. Even astronauts look down from their international space stations and think "I think I can see my house from here." Why is this tendency there? Because the soul is really searching for his eternal home with Krishna.
So Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is representing Vaikuntha airlines, and he has everything you need to know about the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, in the forms of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Why don't you book a trip?