|A Boston kiss. Photo by Michael Philip Manheim.|
I was recently interviewed by an up and coming magazine due early 2014. The magazine targets young women. It is on travel and fashion. I clearly was not interviewed for the latter. I'm more often suspected of conspiracies against it.
But I know a couple of things about travel. You ought to try it.
Deciding to travel will have concequences for your social life, though. You will not be able to afford all that tempting stuff. Neither those gadgets from California, Taipei or Seoul, nor the smallest of cars from India, Russia or Italy. Your flat will not be the flashiest or biggest one around. If you even can afford one. Your wardrobe will more likely than not consist of a wide range of strange garments. They may all be very fashionable where they were purchased, but mix them or wear them in the wrong country and you will be the cause of widespread whiplash. Not ever being at home when the party in town takes place will lower your social standing to a depth not yet explored by man. You will of course never be able to afford the "right" presents to your potential better half, as any month's salary will be spent on impulse on that bargain flight to Dushanbe. You even purchased it before contemplating why there would be bargain flights to the Tajik capital. And cutting that romantic date short because your plane to a new territory leaves very early in the morning just kills your score rate. Your date will be here when you get back, you think. Or hope. Before you are consequently proved wrong.
But when eventually settling down for someone, only a traveller will do.
Just think about it.
Would you like to hang out with someone who has the right handbag, shoes or pair of jeans? Or rather with someone who can share memories of something amazing, that money cannot buy. That sudden wedding invitation on two hours notice in Afghanistan, the bow and arrow competition in Bhutan or the boat ride down the river in the sunset on the Congo.
Would you like to be with someone who needs to plan everything even when going on the smallest trip, only to freak out when nothing goes according to plan? Because whenever you make a plan it will get a name. It will forever be known as plan B. Such is the curse of travelling plans. Or rather be with someone who is calm and laid back about the trip, who knows how to behave when on unknown territory and who realises that everything will work out just fine when you get there? There is no need to stress, you won't get killed. If the train doesn't go today, a bus, taxi or donkey will. And when something breaks, it can be mended. Even in 2013.
And let's speak about that long needed holiday. Would you like to travel with slaves of guidebooks or of tour guides with little red flags held high? The same beach, the same hotel and the same pizzeria aren't all that fun the umptheenth time. Or would you rather like some stimulation, some excitement, some adventure? Travel guides promise to deliver it to you, but do rather the contrary. The travel guide writer passed through a town or an area in a few days or maybe a week. In 2010. To do what? To explore for you. To ruin the pleasure of exploring, to stop you from enjoying the satisfaction of discovering for yourself. Like you did when you were a kid, when you couldn't even read but had to let curiosity help you find out the hard way. Will you really allow them to do so? Has curiosity left the building? Towns change, people change, cultures change, you change. Dare explore. How else will you find the hidden gems, the small secluded restaurants and the new bar in town?
Will you share your life with someone who lacks curiosity? Or rather with that certain individual who wants to find out why, who dares talk to locals and who are not afraid of tasting snakes, worms and fried bush crickets? They have Heineken in 172 countries. That still shouldn't stop you from trying Polar, Tusker, Primus or Kubuli.
Travellers have learned that arrogance is their worst enemy and that being humble goes a long way. Only by acknowledging that people you meet are your equals can you understand and appreciate the world genuinely and truthfully.
Travellers know how to appreciate home, however unimpressive it may be. They have been in dusty towns, on rocky roads and in salty waters. They know why and how to smile because of the little things in life. They know how lucky you are for even being able to travel. And they have seen the world from a different perspective, from an unusual angle.
Travellers are a strange breed. They may not immediately come across as Aphrodite or Adonis with their hiking boots and the worn backpack. But I'd say they are worth searching for. People with stories to tell, images to share and problem solving skills usually are. They even kiss better too. Chances are they haven't only kissed in French.
More articles by Gunnar Garfors:
- Why 198 countries?
- My top 20 travel tips.
- How I find cheap flights.
- And of course, hand luggage only.