The essence of travel – Part #1

London

Many a times people complain about practicalities of or occurrences in travel be it airports, airplanes, delays, cancellations, long-haul flights, boring or smelly co-passengers, crappy food, lousy service, etc etc – the list is endless. I myself have complained about those and about a dozen more.

The truth of the matter is that indeed some of the above seem to make a trip to a destination boring, tiring, exhausting, monotonous etc. I am sure all have heard or mumbled the expression “I wish I could be beamed to my destination” or “Next time let’s choose a destination much closer”. A 12-hour long-haul flight is indeed exhausting and nobody would choose to have as a co-passenger a baby that screams his guts out every five minutes. A delayed flight is definitely something that nobody would wish for. A bus-seat is something you could not even wish for your enemy for a 7-day bus trip from Spain to Ukraine and back. A packed train station on Christmas time leaving Paris for South of France is definitely something tiring and mind you this is not the French state that has not put enough trains, but us all travelers that decided that the best day to travel is the 24th of December.

In every single trip, even the simplest one – be it the system’s deficiencies, poor planning, random events like weather or just us travelers – there are numerous reasons that things are not necessarily executed the way we wish for.

Still, before we are ready to throw to the lions all those deficiencies or aspects or parts of travel, let us think for a moment and let us consider this simple question.

What if none of these happened?

What if we could be beamed to a destination instead of flying or seating in that lousy and uncomfortable seat even an elephant would despise? What if we could enter a museum without waiting in the queue? What if there was no walking between places and we could just in a blink of a second, just like in Star Trek, find ourselves in a restaurant. What if we could even beam ourselves back home, feed the dog and be re-beamed back to Bora-Bora islands to continue our wall dive? What if the weather was always sunny?

What if…?

Let’s just “what-if” all these things we complain for and see if a trip would still be and called a trip without all those things that seem to be or make a trip difficult….And if you find it difficult may I just proceed.

Wouldn’t we generally, and more philosophically, miss all the nitty gritty details of a trip that make a trip, a destination, a place different from another?

Wouldn’t we miss the sheer anticipation and exhilaration for the trip to start? Isn’t a trip, a flight, a bus- isn’t everything a way to spice up our trip and make it special? Wouldn’t a 10-hour flight be beautifully serendipitous for the possibility of finding our companion for a life, a great couple to share a nice dinner at destination, a great friend for a life or even some useful pieces of advice about our destination? Isn’t it the airplane and then the airports (both origin and destination) the first places that prepare us and get us in the mood for our gradual arrival to our destination? Don’t they do the arrival more painfully and beautifully slow?

Of course I don’t mean to try to live with everything that goes wrong in a trip. I don’t mean to make you throw hands in the air when the next delay occurs or burst into shouts of joy when the steward serves us cold food just flown in from Antarctica.  What I am trying to say is to try, again in a more philosophical and non rational way, to find beauty in and appreciate every aspect of a trip.

Traveling is not just being somewhere, but also it is getting there and coming back, it is packing and unpacking, it is planning itineraries and creating memories, it is the flight, it is the passport control, it is even the twist or glitch in our original plans. Everything, all those things fused together create this magical thing that is called a trip, travel, journey – whatever we want to call it!

We should learn to cherish every single moment of our trip. The amount of information we can suck up and stuck up and may be used to put a different touch of color into our canvas called “another trip” is immense and it would be a waste and a shame to let it go unprocessed.

Once I was standing outside a hotel and behind a behind the airport runway and just as I was sitting on the pavement doing a fag I felt connected with my destination, Peru, just by seeing an airplane taking its position and lifting itself in the air. Even that moment doing a fag under a lousy clod day, waiting boringly for the next day to arrive to head for Peru, even that moment was inspiring!

Everything about travel is travel itself. All travel practicalities or occurrences are an integral part of travel – of a trip – and we should see them in such a way. It is only then that we will start cherishing everything about it and really feeling the true – and hidden – essence of travel.

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