Friday, February 29, 2008

On Travel

I had an interesting discussion about travel yesterday with an American visitor to New Zealand - why we do it, what we get from it, what challenges us and to what degree in fact, the average traveller even welcomes any degree of challenge. Travel of course, is different things to different people. It can be motivated by anything from pure escapism to self-discovery and education to something that resembles 'another acquisition' - the ability to be able to come home and say you've been to Rome, Paris or London in much the same way you might tick off the purchase of prime real estate, a luxury car or designer labels. I like hearing the stories of travellers who have thrown themselves unwittingly into the unknown; travellers who have extended themselves and who have made their way, surviving on their wits and spontaneous responses to unforeseen circumstances, to the unpredictable and the unplanned. That's the way to do it. Not for me the endless comforts, the group outings, the soft-seated bus tours or the 'safe' restaurants. I want travel to teach me things about myself I didn't know and didn't know I was capable of. I want travel to expand my horizons, to force me to make contact with others who don't speak the same language and I want it to leave me exhausted, over-stimulated and begging for more. Why else would you bother?

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