I think one of the major misconceptions about travel is that travel is glamorous. This is very far from the truth. Yes, there’s luxury travel. There’s the private jet treatment, lodging in luxury beach resorts in the most prestigious of locations and all that. That’s fine, but that represents a very very tiny percentage of the travel ecosystem – so tiny it is almost negligible.
For most parts of it, travel will break you. It will break you to the point where you’ll swear never to set foot on any adventure ever again.
Anthony Bourdain said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Cesare Pavese was even more direct when he said, “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. -all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
That’s the beauty of it – that point where you get so broken that what’s left is so beautiful, so true, so authentic. It’s like an egg breaking so the life hidden inside can manifest.
Anthony Bourdain continued, “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”
I have slept on bare rocks – on high altitudes. I have gotten stranded on express roads and left to the mercy of speeding cars. I’ve stayed in lands where I traveled to knowing no soul and ended up winning many. I’ve eaten the food of strangers, slept in their houses, drank their water, laughed at their jokes, shared their stories and immersed myself in them. I tell you what it leaves me with – memories. Stories. Love.
So when next you set your feet on a path, first, leave yourself behind. For travel is not yet an adventure till you leave yourself behind.
There’s something Martin Buber said. He said that all journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. And this is so true. Because at the end, it’s less about the physical destination and more about the inner transformation.