Anyone who has spent anytime on the road can testify to the fact that some aspects of travel are burdensome. Of course we love the escapism that it offers. However, should one merely travel to temporarily exit their reality only to re-enter it again a tad more unfulfilled? Travel should be stimulating and exhaustive. Restorative and meditative. Choose your assortment. There are abstract benefits to travel (as well as tangible ones too). Yet, in order to reap them the drifter must recognize and create opportunities, practice patience, and along the way learn to love travel and it’s fruits.
I have close friends who truly can’t relate to the pleasure I get from travel. Why subject yourself to victimhood? As a drifter you intentionally place yourself in vulnerable situations. You can become the target of petty thieves. In some areas, a haphazard stroll down the wrong block can have severe consequences. The nubian drifter may be able to assimilate in melanin populated countries. Yet, your non-indigenousness will be exposed by your accent. Once you’ve been identified tags will be thrusted upon you: #rich #wealthy #money #overcharge. Why bother with it all? You like the food?! You can easily find world cuisine in clean restaurants that use FDA approved ingredients; Whole Foods has no shortage of organic options. Is this place even certified by the board of public health? I’ve found myself with a bout of mild diarrhea after being carefree in my encounters with exotic fruits. I’ve had travel companions isolate themselves in hotel rooms due to meal decisions that rendered them incapacitated. There are a lot of risks involved. Maybe you should stick to the fare at the Westin.
Travel doesn’t just have to be a vain affair: a series of bureaucratic formalities, a competition to find the cheapest, fastest route. Through travel you can expand your worldview, make new relationships, reinvigorate old ones, improve your foreign language skills, ad nauseam. However, obtaining the fruits of travel does require some preening on behalf of the drifter. One of the biggest benefits of travel is that you can gain insights into yourself. From my experiences too many drifters romanticize their foreign hosts. This is an extreme of one the benefits of travel. Encounters and exchanges with those radically different from oneself can [help us] develop respect and empathy towards others. Yet, when we romanticize others we can sacrifice esteem for our own native environments. Being open minded and gaining self-knowledge is something that will have universal benefits for the drifter.
Before we get to drifter nirvana we must develop our ability to love travel. This can be done in a variety of ways:
Be Patient - You will be misunderstood. At times your bus, train, plane will be delayed. Take it in stride. Occupy yourself. People watch.
Embrace spontaneity - Planning has it’s place, and it can help make your travels smoother. A lack of plans can make your travel needlessly complicated. Yet, be prepared to veer from your itinerary. Don’t schedule out every half-hour of your trip. Give yourself some space to drift and discover.
Give people the benefit of the doubt - The proportion of lowlifes, crooks, swindlers in any country in the world is probably well below 5% of the general population, and that’s a conservative guess. So, 95% of the people you come across should be decent. Don’t carry all of your baggage from previous experiences with you when you travel. If people make a mistake or can’t assist you to the degree of your satisfaction, give them a pass and keep it moving. We are all human.
Be open minded - Not all Chinese people do Kung-Fu, not all Italian men are passionate lovers, not all Somalis are pirates, not all African-Americans are _________.
Create opportunities - When you travel you’re not in your usual environment or routine. If you're in a safe, public place, perhaps spark up a conversation with a stranger. Don’t just follow everything in your guide book verbatim. Create your own experience by following your interests and instincts.
Be street smart - Some of the frustrations people encounter when they travel are understandable. I had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal and one my compatriots regrettably had his digital camera stolen. Although I don’t condone the thief, our Kentuckian shouldn’t have left his camera exposed in an open fanny pack. There will be opportunists, especially at tourist sites so be on your guard.
What do you think one can do to develop a love of travel?