Travel: the ultimate dream life?
My mom asked me not to be a globetrotter and focus on what I want to do. And she's absolutely right; even though I love not having a fixed plan for the next day, and having the total uncertainty of what will happen in a week, my analytical and academic mind, and my desire to experience the world beyond photos and memories, encourages me to do more. To give me the time to write about what I live, to read academic articles to have tools to talk about this experience beyond the itinerary and closer to the theory. And, above all, I continue with the academic ambition of an academic life, to enjoy travel by knowing and expanding my cultural knowledge and not by getting lost in travel itself.
I have met jetsetters and I can acknowledge that it's an attractive life, with no fixed routes, no expectations, and no desire to return home. But I have also noticed the other side of the coin: going through the world without any fixed goals absorbs you so much that you hardly process what you're living. Travel seduces you. You are stimulated all the time, by the landscape, by the people, by the culture, by the otherness. And so, even though traveling gives you so much, travelling also takes a lot out of you.
The tourist, the traveller and the wanderer... Glaciar los Leones. Chilean Patagonia, 2018.
There is a global travel trend that encourages the idea of travelling as a way to know yourself. It romanticises the notion of the traveller, people who would think themselves as Wanderders instead of 'tourists'. These people take on the explorers' hat very seriously and portrait themselves on Instagram as interesting and mysterious, as travelling is the ultimate dream life.
I think travelling opens up your horizon, it breaks the box to have no limits. It frees you. And that's when it gets blurry. Travelling loses you in those horizons to know your own limits. Invites you to say: "Today I want to stay in the room with air conditioning because I have been on the road twelve weeks without stopping", "Today I want to treat myself to a massage because I cannot stand the backpack one more afternoon", "Today I want to get up at six to go running", "Today I do not want to eat rice, again", "I cannot stand the roommate in the hostel", "Today I do not want to be social and I want to lose myself alone", "Today I'm going to have the luxury of staying in a hotel to have my own room with a bathtub".
It invites you to trust your intuition and accept to go for a beer with two strangers on a rooftop, to follow those who speak your language to a market, to accept a water massage, or to sing (or more like mumble) in Japanese at a karaoke in Tokyo.
It invites you to be strong. To make quick decisions. To travel with the 60lt backpack, to lift the sack of rocks, to walk in the jungle with an injured knee, to sweat what you have never sweated before, to not bathe for six days, to remove the leeches every two minutes, to run the hell away from wasps. Also, it invites you to smile at a sunset or at a stranger, to communicate with signs, to laugh a little more, to exchange experiences and tips, to be grateful for a hug from an old Italian traveller, to enjoy the different tastes and music, to deal with the hungover and continue touring and exploring.
It invites you to realise the resistance you put before, to let yourself be carried away by the breeze, the rhythm and the smell. It invites you to listen to your body asking you to not eat more sandwiches of the 7Eleven or anymore Banh Mi. To satisfy your desire to dance all night, or to enjoy a conversation with someone from a culture completely different from yours, and who you probably won't see ever again.
Travelling is inviting me to all that and more, it is inviting me to stay, not on the trip and get lost, but to make something more from travelling, to look for a future in the experience, not to be a globetrotter but to really find where I can settle down and relax... I do not want to be a common traveller, I want to travel with goals and ambitions, with ideas and with gratitude; even if I don't know where will I call home.
Next week I'll start a bit of a theoretical preview on whats going on with all these terms, so stay tuned!