Not all travel experiences are created equal. Life would be exceptionally boring if they were (and unbearably boring if travel didn’t exist at all). Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of coming and going; A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of escorting 100 teenage Air Cadets on a 4-day bus trip to Chicago. Last Saturday my extended family and I boarded a plane headed straight to the Rocky Mountains to relax for a week. A mere 48 hours from now I’ll be trying to sleep in a plane over the Atlantic, headed straight for The Boot, where I’ll stay for more than 3 months.
All this packing, unpacking, coming and going gets me thinking. What is it that we want when we travel? Why do we travel? Are certain types of trips better than others?
“Voyage, travel and change of place impart vigor.” —Seneca
I think good old Seneca hit the nail right on the head with that one. I want vigor in my life, and therefore I travel.
When I travel, I want experience. Stories to tell, pictures to share, not souvenirs but keepsakes. I want to come home knowing a few words in the local language, and I try to observe and participate in the culture. I think about where I am, versus where I’ve been, versus where I call home, versus where I’ll go. I also like the ride. The plane ride, the train ride, the bus ride, the car ride, the walk, the bike ride… I’ve fallen helplessly in love with the actual moving part of travel. The going. The leaving. The return home. The cycle of coming and going. The change of pace it gives my life.
At times I like the solitude of travel, the independence I feel hauling my bag from one place to another on my own, without anyone to turn to for help. I like staring out a train window, brainstorming blog posts and article ideas, contemplating important things like what to do with my life (or what to eat for lunch). Other times, it’s the social aspect of travel that appeals to me. Meeting locals and having them share their home and their life with me, or meeting up with other travelers and hearing them spin their tall travel tales. Often, it is the beauty of the place where I am or where I’m going to. This, among other things is what attracts me to Italy. Physical, natural, architectural, linguistic, gastronomic, atmospheric (am I using that word in the right context?) beauty.
Why do you travel? Are you a weekend away type person, or an around-the-world-in-80-days type traveler? Are you Ritz-ing it or roughing it? Bus tour or Eurail Pass? Cruise or pilgrimage? All-inclusive or campsite? Europe or South America? Are you just hitting the up the main sights and heading to bed early or staying out late and enjoying simply being in a place? Do you find yourself missing the comforts of home, or do you make yourself at home where ever you go?
Just thinking about this stuff makes me smile at all the wonderful travel memories I’ve been lucky enough to accumulate in my short 23 years here on earth. And in two days, I’ll be embarking on yet another “adventure”, more memories in the making.