When you are travelling the world visiting awesome tropical islands and majestic mountain ranges, glittering megalopolis cities and mysterious jungles, take some time to appreciate the journey too, because the journey is what real travel is all about.
Any travel blog or website out there, any traditional travel guide book or TV show all tend to be focused on the destination. As they should be to an extent, I mean half of what I do on this site is to inspire you to travel to all of the awesome destinations out there. All of these amazing countries and awesome sites, all of these once in a lifetime experiences, they are the reason people travel.
In an era of budget airlines allowing you to take short, specific trips at reasonable prices, and of a gap year industry that sells you the dream of specific routes like the banana pancake trail or even more specific locations, this is hardly surprising.
But that is only half the point, and by focusing too much on the destination, you lose part of the reason why people travel in the first place.
The journey, not the destination.
It isn’t just about seeing any given awesome destination, it is about just seeing what is over that hill too, it is about seeing what is around the next corner.
Don’t get me wrong I have travelled to specific destinations after being inspired by a picture or a post enthusing about the place. I have travelled to countries such as Egypt or Japan because of long time childhood fascinations, and I have loved those trips.
But during those trips I was travelling in a very much goal orientated way, and by reaching those destinations I achieved that goal. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it isn’t the be all and end all of travel.
I have also travelled aimlessly too.
Travel is more than just getting to a specific destination. It has to be more than that, otherwise it is just a holiday.
I have travelled the world for over fifteen years now, and for large chunks of that I have simply wandered. I have been in a sense a true nomad.
And no, I don’t mean nomad in the way it has been usurped by the digital location free work crowd, I mean a nomad in the sense that I have simply wandered without any destination in mind, I have simply chosen what destination to go to after arriving at the bus station and seeing where the next bus was going. I have gone somewhere on the toss of a coin and travelled to a place simply because I had never heard of it.
This is what travel has meant to me for a long time, just travelling down the road and seeing what was there, allowing fate and serendipity to introduce me to new cultures and new destinations. Sometimes I would plan a little, others I wouldn’t at all.
Become the hero of your own journey.
I guess for me the words of the theme tune to one of my favourite childhood programmes had more of an impression on me than I ever thought.
“There’s a voice, it keep’s on callin’ me, down the road, that’s where I’ll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend, can’t stay for long just turn around and I’m gone again.”
And if you get that reference you know exactly what I mean!
The legendary tales of wanderlust that inspired me as a kid; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, even Hercules the Legendary Journeys; those wonderful narratologies of the hero’s journey, were far more than the hero facing down the villain, they were about the journey itself. The adventure. They were about the people the hero met along the way, the trials they had to endure that prepared them for their destiny, the adventure and misadventure they had on their path to realising their goal.
The journey was the point.
And the exact same is true of travel today. The journey is what makes you. The sheer feat of travelling itself, not the destinations you end up in, is what makes you an awesome world traveller. It is the adventures you have along the way that make you a damn superhero version of yourself.
The monomyth of the Hero’s Journey is an exceptional storytelling tool, but it can also be an epic way to travel when you apply it to yourself.
And that is what I want to remind travellers of today. By all means travel to that specific destination you have always wanted to see, but don’t forget the journey too because that is half the point of travel.
Make time on your round the world adventure to stop off at those little towns and out of the way places no one would ever think of specifically heading to. Travel somewhere simply because you have never heard of it. Encourage the curious nature of your fernweh infected soul and indulge it!
Pick a hill and see what is on the other side of it. Pick a road and travel down it until you find somewhere that catches your interest.
And most of all, never lose that sense of wanderlust that made you want to travel in the first place.
Travel is far more than just a tick box exercise, far more than just crossing off a list of destinations that someone else has come up with, it should also be a journey that is personal and unique just to you. A journey of self growth and personal introspective learning where you travel just to see what is around that next corner. Travel should be a journey where you travel to truly explore the world and see what is out there for yourself. Not to see something that you know is there, but to discover something you have no idea is out there.
So get out there and discover new and wonderful things that aren’t on any destination list. Have your own adventure. Enjoy and revel in the actual journey of world travel.
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