Why do we travel?

A very basic question, but asked so frequently that I realised I might as well write a post on it. While I’ve my own reasons to travel that I’ve jotted down in this post, hasn’t it been the IT thing from as long as we remember? Columbus to Ibn Battuta to the Mughal rulers and Captain Jack Sparrow to my neighbourhood junkie—everyone travels. The latter might be travelling to get more doses of weed though (don’t question me, one look at his spiked hair and weirdly funny, lopsided walk and, of course, trance music that filters from his house at all the ungodly hours and you’ll know).

From the hippies of the Woodstock Festival to the elite Beatles, everyone has travelled far and wide. And, of course, some heartbroken friends, who check in on Facebook when they travel, saying “To a fresh start, feeling in love again… XYZ checked in at Kerala Airport”, travelling is the buzz word.

I travel simply because it is the one, and quite surely, the one thing that makes me want to live more. It’s THE addiction, if you want to sum it up. I’m quite in love with everything about travelling, apart from the stinky loos (which I brave anyway), including the perfectly boring wait at railway stations, flights that make me sleepy within 10 minutes of boarding one, in-flight food (where they sell plain rice at 250 bucks), and all the times it has felt like my luggage is the last to get rolled out on the baggage carousels. So yes, travelling is my addiction.

I travel to connect with nature

If there is one absolute and irrevocable love in my life, it’s my nature time. Never mind all the dust and backaches on the way to a place, I NEED to sprawl on the beach late into the night, listening to the waves, looking up at the countless stars or lights of the distantly bobbing fishermen boats, patting a dog or two (who, like me, are more awake at night), falling asleep in the soft or the not-so-soft sand, waking up early to watch the rising Sun and falling Moon at the same time, look at the darting tadpoles in the temporary water pools that form overnight and getting wowed all over again at the perfect symmetry of starfish that are embedded not-so-deep in sand.  I NEED nature, just as some people NEED their morning cup of coffee (I’m one of these people as well). So yes, I travel to get my dose of nature. As bohemian as it may sound, but I’ve had those magical moments of talking to the ocean, and perhaps making a wish or a small prayer, while standing in neck-deep water in lagoons!

Give me a free trip to some lavish property in one of the urban cities, and my automatic e-mail responder will send you a no (I wish it could do that; you get the emotion nevertheless).

I travel to talk

Yes, I’m not much of a talker unless we are great friends or lovers. I can be painfully irritating if you are the one who is trying to start a conversation with me, but the well-kept secret is, I love a good chat. More so with people, who do not know me. While chatty cab drivers are always good, it is liberating to talk to people you run into while on a trek, napping under a tree, or while trying your first ever swim in the ocean (true story). People who can talk more than the last cricket match. People who get you when you talk of nature conservation, cupcakes, and van-life. So yes, I travel to talk all the weird and impractical stuff with people I do not know. Often, we turn into lifelong friends, who leave each other with promises of sending postcards (kept some of those) and meeting again on some trip. There are no promises to stay in touch, or make calls every week. But I know, and they know that we will be delighted to see each other in some different place perhaps, years later may be.

I travel to dream the impossible

Oh boy yes! Travelling makes me dream of all that I can do; of all that we, as humans, could do. There are no impossible(s) when I travel—new places, people, terrains and the fleeting nature of it all drives home a very straight point for me—that this is a fast-changing world, too fast to sit idle and not do what you truly desire. It’s changing every tiny second, millions of time between a sunrise and a sunset. Believing that you can hold on to the very idea of stability, or practicality, is sheer stupidity. So, yes, I travel to dream all the impossible(s).

I travel to stay focussed

I don’t know about you but my mind is abuzz 24X7. At times I wonder if it takes a break even while I sleep, for it starts whirling the second I wake up. While this might sound good, it really is not. The burden of an overactive mind is huge; more so since it keeps flitting from one thought to the next idea even when it knows that a day has just 24 hours. Most of the days, it is fine; a good number of days, it is not. I like to keep things simple, clean and straight. Only travelling makes my brain take a break.

The second I board a bus, train or a flight and rest my head against the seat, this very fickle mind of mine hits the snooze mode. Away from the routine of a city life, I can hear the rustle of pine trees, a butterfly’s colour become way sharper, a waterfall becomes music and my to-do lists become neater and shorter. While I’ve heard a lot of people crib about all the hard work they’ve to do while going on a trip or in the middle of it, there is nothing like a trip for me to get my focus back.

I travel to hear and tell stories

I’m a digger for stories right from my childhood. I remember telling stories to my Dad at night while he would feign listening (and liking) to all of my half-remembered, half-cooked stories. My addiction for stories has clearly strengthened, so I travel. I’ve spent hours listening and reading to folklore of new places and cultures and telling some in return; I’ve met people who are great at the art of storytelling. Some are true, some are fiction; but all are stories. Including that woman, a close friend now, from the US, who landed in India majorly because she has butterflies and dragonflies flitting around her back home and she took it to be the sign of some metamorphosis in store; something that she believed could happen in India.

Everyone has a story, if only you listen. I’ve thousands, if only you listen.

I might add more to these reasons on why we travel, or I travel, as and when I remember one. Till then, I would love to know why you travel.

Is it in pursuit of some happiness, some soul-searching, simply for a vacation or in search of a story; perhaps yours?

Do leave your answers and thoughts in the comments below; I love all the interaction and sometimes goofy, sometimes philosophical answers that you leave.

Happy travelling. Peace.

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