What comes to mind when you think of travel? Is it exploring fun and exciting new places? Maybe it’s sitting by the beach with a drink and a book. Or perhaps it’s a mixture of both. But that’s only if you’re travelling for pleasure and for yourself. What about when you’re obliged to travel for other people?

No, this isn’t about business travel but rather what is now being termed oblication travel. This is when we feel that we have no choice but to travel somewhere, be it for family reunions, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and all kinds of other events. It can be very hard to say no.

But, at the same time, this kind of travel can eat up precious vacation days and budgets. In doing so, they can take away time and money you might have otherwise spent going on vacation.

oblication travelSo, is this kind of oblication travel worth it?

On one hand, this is an excellent way of meeting family and friends that you might not otherwise get to see. It also shows that you care enough to visit. Of course, on the other hand, it’s important to be realistic.

With the world becoming a more global place you’ll find friends and family becoming more and more scattered. But with travel becoming more affordable and accessible, it is also getting harder and harder to say no to travel long distances for special occasions.

According to sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, “On the one hand, doing these rituals is a way of showing that you’re not a materialistic person and that you value your close friendships.” He also said that “I think that is a kind of test,” Alexander said. “If you invite somebody and they don’t come, then they’re not willing to put their money where their mouth is. They’re not showing that they actually care about you.”

Happy group of friends taking a selfie at a restaurant while having dinner togetherBut, as it turns out, there are lots of ways you can make the most of such travel, or having your cake and eating it too. 

Looks for ways to combine oblication travel and leisure travel. For example, a destination wedding is a perfect excuse to take a few extra days to relax and explore. Even family reunions give you a chance to take quick trips to nearby locations.

Trips that place an unnecessary strain on time and finances that may already be limited, aren’t always essential. So pick and choose the trips you want to go on, turning down invitations that strain budgets or are from people you aren’t really that close to. (If you can get away with sending a card, do it.)

Often the important thing is to attend just the main event (for example a wedding) as opposed to the many other events and celebrations that accompany it. It’s okay to politely decline an invitation. Just make sure you do it well in advance; don’t say yes and then change your mind later.

It’s also important to actually go to events you’ve RSVPd “yes” to, out of respect both for the people who’ve invited you and the people you may be travelling with. Formal events, transportation, and even catering often have strict cancellation policies, so by backing out at the last minute, you may be leaving these people in the lurch.



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