I was recently trying to put all my logical judgments and answer a burning query of mine “why do I consider myself a traveler, when I address most people, including many friends, as tourists?”
I mean, I take the same road, experience a similar locale, and possibly meet the same local people. So why this demarcation? Is it the term ’a traveler’ which has some sort of bounding appeal to it? What makes me a traveler?
I realized the answer, on its own, while having a conversation with an old friend, a couple of days ago. He was getting married 6 months from now and was busy doing overtime before the marriage. Under such convoluted circumstances, I asked him if he fancied a short motorbiking expedition in the Himalayas (I really did mention the word ‘short’). And the first thing he said was: “For how long? Give me the dates when we are leaving and arriving.”
I took a little breath, pondered, and then described a tentative route map, with all the precise dates my mind had the ability to process. Starting with a perfect play of weekend (as I know white-collared folks often do) I told him, “we will leave on the coming Friday, and our first destination would be Kaza, near the Indio-Tibet border. We will cover a few hidden on the way and see how long it takes.” Suddenly I realised the answer to my burning query…
It’s the fact that we never know when we’re coming back, is what makes us travelers. It’s the freedom, the degree of nomadism in us is what makes travellers.
We don’t want to lead the road, but rather follow it to infinity. We are helpless against the ecstasy and the joy of losing ourselves to oblivion.
I am addicted to this idea too. And that’s what makes me a traveler!
When I travel, I don’t think about dates, or about days. I don’t care when I leave, or when I arrive. All that matters to me are the places I am visiting, the people I will meet, and the many unforgettable experiences waiting for me on the other side of the journey.
The joy of slow travel – as travellers call it – is best experienced when you treat the entire world as your little backyard and enjoy it with all the time in the world.
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers don’t know where they’re going” Paul Theroux
Beyond any measures, and of all the biggest reasons, this is why I quit my job to travel in the first place. I didn’t want myself to be helplessly restricted under a time frame.
I remember, the first time I left home for my first-ever grand adventure – a one-month backpacking in Bhutan – I remained excited throughout the journey. Whereas other people I met on the road, who was bound with a return ticket, came and left with a few half-baked conversations.
They were so busy with their bucket list that they never appreciated the joy of travelling and experiencing how it feels to sit with locals and enjoy a nice conversation for days on end.
It is only the idea of slow travelling, which has led me to discover a different side of Varkala or familiarized me with the dying land of Yogis, among many other soul-searching experiences.
So plan a long break, take a sabbatical or fake a medical leave. Do whatever it takes but once in your life, at least, go to a place where you can abandon time restraints, throw away your gadgets, and just… TRAVEL !!
Also Read: My Volunteering And Travel Experience In Germany
Amazing article! I loved the concept of ‘Slow Travelling’ Cannot wait to try it atleast once. In the process of submiting long an confusing excuses!
Love this 🙂 I would be totally up for a ‘short biking expedition’ in the Himalayas!! So badly! I’m planning do get my motorcycle drivers license soon for a trip through Russia or Kazakhstan. And yes, absolutely agree: The freedom of forgetting about time and not knowing where to go next, just going with the flow, is one of the most beautiful feelings ever!
Do whatever it takes, but once in your life, at least, go to a place where you can abandon any ideas of technology, throw away your gadgets, forget about the life back home, and just… TRAVEL !!!
I totally agree with you on this. Thanks for sharing this great post.
Interesting distinction, and a clear line for you. I am not so sure I completely agree. I do think it has to do with our frame of mind, whether we are observing or participating. I usually know when I am leaving and returning.