The idea of travel

September 26th, 2010, 12am

Travel is a photograph. A slide on a carousel, presented to a captive audience.

Travel is a monkey on your shoulder, a mimosa in your hand, a foreign spice on your tongue.

Travel is an idea as much as an activity. I’ve known many people for whom travel isn’t a series of lessons, but rather a trophy on the mantle. It’s a diploma awarded for showing up; a status symbol meant to impress, like so many other accoutrements collected and brandished; the lifestyle equivalent of a gold watch flashing subtly from underneath a cuff-linked sleeve.

Travel is, for some, less about seeing new things and discovering unexplored corners of their own personality, and more about excessive displays. Money, tolerance, an adventurous attitude, the capacity to be uncomfortable and to deal with situations that are perceived to be dangerous; all are demonstrated to those who might listen, though only later, within the briefly missed safety of climate controlled environments and familiar vegetables and unaccented latin alphabets.

Travel is different for each and every person who experiences it, but I can’t help but feel some people walk away with what amounts to a consolation prize; a home version of the real thing, produced from plastics and cardboard, and lacking the real-world appeal of the planet, its people, the unfamiliar, and the neglected facets of themselves that are otherwise forgotten and largely left to rust back amidst the comforts of home. Where all that matters is the idea of living.

Samuel, Lia, David Wade, Paul and 3 others said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work ( / My blog ( / My publishing company (

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