TAAHIR KAMAL CHAGAN
The travel bug is real. It’s an addiction, that hooks us, fatally and forever. And this is why I wanted to warn you in advance, because if you’re reading this… well… it’s already too late…
(by Lupe Fiasco)
“We travel, some of us forever,
to seek other places, other lives, other souls”.
– Anais Nin
What’s all the fuss about, though?
Well, you see, when you travel, you learn. You get another perspective, a different vantage point, another way of looking at things. You discover different ways to approach and solve problems.
Travel reminds you of the interconnectedness of things. It enhances your level of empathy, giving you a heightened ability to put yourself in the shoes of another fellow soul, which is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important skill for a fulfilling life.
Travel helps you get over your fears. It helps you break down your prejudices, re-evaluate your beliefs, refine your philosophies. It will help you mature.
Every time you cross a border, you positively contribute to the internationalisation of the world. Every time you travel, you straighten out some kind of misunderstanding between cultures.
When you travel, you have the possibility of learning and using new languages, which are in essence new ways of experiencing your inner and outer world.
Travel allows you to meet a diverse array of beautiful, amazing, and strange people. Kindred spirits who can change the course of your life forever.
So, what the fuss is all about, in short, is this: travel is transformation.
(by Frank Ocean)
“Not all those who wander are lost”
– J.R.R Tolkien
Often, travel is associated with glamour and luxury, reserved for wealthy people who can avoid the local coastline for the December vacation, and instead jet-set off into the sunset, to have waited on hand and foot on some 5-star experience.
You can travel like that. But there are many people who think that this is the only way to go. This is not true. A lot of times, this idea comes from ignorance about the actual reality.
The bottom line is this: Travel is what you make it.
There are incredible travel communities out there which gives you a range of options to suit your pocket and your comfort zone. Backpacking or CouchSurfing spring to mind as very fulfilling ways of exploring a new country, while meeting amazing people.
Yes, with all that said, it is true travel is certainly still largely a middle-class endeavour for those of us who are relatively privileged, and it will take some time for this to change.
But don’t despair. A positive attitude will take you far. Look for work opportunities, volunteer opportunities, study abroad opportunities. There is a hilarious amount of opportunities that pass low under the radar of most people because they may not be the best marketed. Take time. Look.
But for many people, especially in the global South, but also in the global North, investments in material things are considered to be more worthwhile: cars, houses, electronic gadgets, clothes, whatever.
Often, it’s the same people who will turn around and say: Travelling is expensive!
And then I will say to them: Look, don’t fuck with me. How much did that Benz cost you? Yeah, I thought so. That’s like sixteen trips for the next two decades, so stop making excuses.
I use the opportunity of them being speechless at this point to drive home my argument: Material things may make you feel “happy” in the moment when you acquire them, but this feeling is associated to novelty. It will fade.
And then I conclude: Life is short. I think that true fulfilment comes from an investment in experiences, and not in stuff.
“The Big Apple”
(by Hugh Masekela)
“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine”
– Caskie Stinnett
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”
– Susan Sontag
None of us are getting any younger.
Do we really need that new electronic gadget? That new car? Do we really need more stuff? Or do we need a new perspective? A Transformation?
It’s time to press pause. Close your eyes. Ask yourself: when I’m lying on my death bed, what will I wish I did more of? What really mattered?
If travel comes up as one of those things for you: Don’t overthink it. Let the travel bug enchant you. And. Just. Go.
Leave a comment below, and tell us which countries are on your travel list.