Why do I travel?

This week brought a beautiful Listicle of travel pornography from the affluenza peddlers at the Times. The photographs and videos are wonderful, especially viewed on my new machine. One can get into a revery of travel plans and what one would do with infinite time and money. Does anyone really follow these lists? I know we are suggestible and love to have a plan to follow, but the destinations span every continent…

I had time to think about traveling while I was riding the Peter Pan bus this weekend and I made some lists of my own. What are the best things I’ve experienced while travelling? What is the feeling I am dreaming of as I contemplate hiking in Switzerland or visiting Addis Ababa?

The freedom of the solo backpacker can not be underestimated. When I travelled to England, Italy, and Spain with just what i could carry on my back and cash for the journey, I chose where to go and what to do each day and left behind anything I didn’t want to carry anymore. That feeling of autonomy and trust in my choices- “Well, whatever I do it will be new to me and I’ll learn something.” Just wandering Paris in the rain is educational, if you don’t find a museum or a strike has closed the Eiffel Tower.

But, the best trips I’ve had have combined good company with autonomy. Nick and I ditched Hadrian’s wall for Newcastle’s breweries when it started raining. Siena invited me along to the magical isle of Elba for a few days with her adventurous friends. In Costa Rica I didn’t have freedom of choice in travel or company, but my thoughts and visions were wild as my school group slept in an unfinished shed in the cloud forest. It smelled so good, of freshly milled wood and damp jungle.

I never pack anything I would be tormented by the loss of, and that light travel means I can choose each day what to focus my energy on. Usually i will pick up a used novel and leave it when I finish or tire of it. I bring maybe three outfits and a scarf for flare.

So, for Slow Travel I want to bring home these elements- what I savor and seek in a week long escape adventure, found on my islands.

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Author: Emily

Writer/ Librarian

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