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- The Avid Cruiser
Why do we travel?
If you’re someone with a certain degree of wanderlust, no doubt you’ve asked yourself that very question more than once. But why do we feel the need to travel?
For me, travel is a burning desire that can never be satiated. It’s an unquenchable thirst, with the exception that it only gets worse with every single trip. The more places I see, the more I want to see. When I step off an airplane, I wonder what exotic destination the one at the gate next to me is bound for? Maybe it’s Shanghai, or just simply Saskatoon. I’ve never been to either one, and if someone plopped a ticket in my hand, I’d gladly go.
Travel also makes us do crazy things. I’ve nearly fallen off piers in three different countries trying to get that perfect shot; I’ve outrun two hurricanes; and I can recite the pre-flight safety demonstration aboard Air Canada, Lufthansa and United Airlines now. Sometimes, I have nightmares about missing connections or lost luggage. Other times, I dream I’m wandering the city of Venice, only to wake to discover it’s actually Vancouver.
Over Christmas, I had coffee with a friend of mine. Like me, she has the travel bug, and one of the first topics that came up was our respective travels. But we quickly broached another topic: the fact that travel can be a very taboo subject.
I first experienced this years ago. I liked to cruise once, twice, even three times a year before starting this blog. I’d save my money, and beg, plead and bargain with my bosses in order to get the time off. I’d work extra hours, long weekends, and take on more projects – just to get two or three solid weeks off a year.
Then, I’d cruise.
Sometimes, I’d just take sever short three-and-four day jaunts down the Pacific Coast. Other years, I’d max everything out on a multi-week cruise through the Baltic or the Mediterranean. No matter where I went, I learned something, not just about the physical places I had visited, but about myself.
Travel, it seemed, was a shot of adrenaline; I would come back feeling wonderful, rejuvenated. Most importantly, I came back from my travels feeling alive.
That sense of euphoria would evaporate when I was back at work. Friends and co-workers couldn’t understand why, after returning, I’d immediately plan the next trip. Must be nice, they’d say. I wish I could do that.
The truth was, they could do that. In fact, anyone can travel. You don’t have to be rich to do it (though a good savings plan certainly helps), and you don’t have to go to Bangalore or Bali to have a great time. But you do have to go someplace that interests you, whether it’s Delhi or Delaware.
Must be nice. The worst three words any traveller can hear from a friend or loved one. Because with those three little words, all possible conversation is shut off. The person isn’t just dismissing your experience; they are rejecting the entire premise of you spending your hard-earned cash on what they consider to be a vacation. A frivolous expenditure that could be put to better use on new appliances. You could do more with that money, they think. Why waste it on travel?
In Passau, Germany this year, I saw a television in the window of a clothing store. The TV was an older “rabbit-ears” model that had been turned into a work of art in its own right. And written in some sort of glue or ink on the old tube screen was the phrase: Stop Watching and Start Living.
I hope everyone reading this can make that their mantra for 2013. Start seeing those places you dreamed about and sailing on those ships you’ve always looked longingly at.
But don’t wait; don’t hold out for the day you become rich to travel, because it will never happen for most of us.
Don’t wait until you get more time off work, because that too, may never happen. There’s always another project in the way, or another deadline to be met.
Don’t wait until you meet the woman/man/Hobbit/superhero of your dreams, don’t wait until the kids have left the house, and definitely don’t wait until retirement, whatever that is.
Because the wheel of fate turns, and you never know how or where it’s going to stop.
Stop Watching. Start Living. Here, on From the Deck Chair.
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