I am not really sure of the exact moment when my thoughts turned to exploring the world. What I do know is that I always loved geography and therefore travel seems like a natural progression of that. My first trip was at the age of two and I am guessing that must have set the tone. Not that this is a vivid memory or anything!
I distinctly remember telling a friend when I was in my teens that my life was going to be an adventure and that the adventure had not yet started. I figured at 22 I would open the door to the world and step through.
Travel has never been a scary option; kind of the opposite really. Normal things like buying a house or ideas like “working toward retirement”, or statements like “trip of a lifetime” have always sent a chill of fear up my spine like no other. Rejected by me and left in the ether for others better able to deal with these situations.
Aided by the fact that I come from a relatively isolated group of islands my desire to travel was simply part of the collective culture of New Zealand. The OE, or Overseas Experience, was an expected way of life; more or less taken for granted.
I remember seeking employment at a stock brokerage firm in Auckland and during the interview I was asked, “Have you been overseas yet?”
I answered, but clarified it since I knew what he was getting at; yes but not solo.
Needless to say my clarification was met with a request that upon my return I should once again enquire about the possibility of employment. He made it clear that without this experience under my belt I was not yet up to muster.
Warnings came in thick and fast of the dangers that lay out in the big wide world. Some warned these dangers were lurking; waiting specifically for me! Others were convinced I would be back in a couple of months.
My family and friends however were not surprised. Like my brother and sister and most others our age, this was simply a rite of passage; a part of our cultural doctrine.
My big fear was that I would do nothing out of the ordinary; ever!
That I would succumb to the 9-5 grind and get cast in a role of the mediocre and narrow-minded; the world was right there for all, ready to be experienced, you just had to grab it.
At some point my life ideal was to travel on a budget and explore every part of the world. Then, when older, do it all again but in style and with no concerns about money.
Let me tell you, budget is the way to go no matter what stage in life you’re at.
I do mix it up a bit now that I have someone to share it with but budget…it’s how you meet more people, experience more things, and happen upon the amazing unplanned nuggets that make the difference between unforgettable and barely memorable.
I’ve tried both and even though I have upgraded from dorm rooms to private it’s the atmosphere of budget accommodation and those who make it their dwelling that can secure a trips success.
I have been fortunate that most of my trips can be measured in months and sometimes even years. I realize this is not how most people travel and that in fact the vast majority of folks would get sick of it after a much shorter period.
That has never been the case for me.
I used to get the blues about returning home; not being away. Up until a few years ago that had always been the case. In fact the attack of the blues would directly correlate to the time spent away. I once took a six month trip and two months before returning, the blues started; shorter trips, shorter period of blues.
I love the escapism of being in a new place surrounded by new sights, sounds, and smells!
I remember an epiphany I had once in Indonesia as I was heading down a mountain. It was the last night before returning home and I was bummed. It hit me that in order to feel the exhilaration of the first day you have to have a last.
Kind of obvious now, but it was a revelation for me at the time!
It picked me out of my slump and it was then that I always vowed to have a “next trip” in the works; an antidote to post-vacation blues.
I have a passion for travel and that has never waned over the years. Travel to me means many things and is the axis upon which my life rests. Shaking life up with unfamiliarity and unforeseen circumstances creates zest and meaning.
Travel is a way to broaden horizons, learn cultures, experience situations, create alter-egos, and hopefully return home with a view of the world that is better not only because you cast an eye over it but because you immersed yourself in it.
I travel because I love it and have found little else that brings me the same sense of euphoria except…sharing it with someone who possesses my same sense of adventure. My life has changed over the years and with it I have found new and more fulfilling ways to experience it.
Travel, like life, is an evolution.
I saw a smoke billowing bus pass a camel that was passing an elephant on a major road in Delhi. The elephant was pink!
I saw a parade in a Muslim state where Jesus was laid out on a straw stretcher with bloodied wrists and forehead; his cross beside him. His cell phone rang and he answered it!