Over the past month I’ve been thinking lots about what travel really means. In part that’s because I’ve been repositioning the blog from ‘Kiwi expat Mum’ to ‘Kiwi blogger travelling the world with her funny bone’, and wondering: Can you be a traveller if you’re in the same place for more than a few weeks?
Am I still a traveller?
Or have I somehow returned back to the travel is for holidays only, mindset?
The honest answer is a bit yes and no.
Yes I can see that most of the travel I do for a while will be relegated to holiday periods, but I’m not sure that makes me a vacation traveller, or a …gasp…tourist.
NO, it really doesn’t.
And then there’s the whole question of whether staying put in one spot makes you any less of a world journeyer or are you just resting for a bit?
I like this quote, it sums up the situation quite well really:
“Travel does not exist without home..If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world. ” John Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter
Of course that assumes that when you’ve travelled you’ve actually seen something, you haven’t just wandered around the world in a hermetically sealed plastic bag of Western World expectations and understandings. It takes for granted that you’ve been an Indie Traveller.
I think being an Indie Traveller is all about the attitude. It doesn’t really matter if you’re just out of school or Uni and are off on your OE, or whether you’re a middle aged escapee, in fact age is not a factor. How you travel – whether with a trundle bag or army surplus backpack – doesn’t really matter either. You can still be an Indie Traveller whilst pushing your Ralph Lauren luggage through the backstreets of Banglamphu. What does matter is that you travel with your mind open to challenge and obstacle and you’re prepared to put up with some dirt and dust along the way in return for having your preconceptions about the world, blown away.
That’s how I love to travel. I’m Indie As. Whether I’m on hiatus from my travels here at home, or on the road, the lessons I learn about myself and my life resonate long after I’ve claimed my air miles. And home is that reflecting surface that reminds me how much I’ve changed and grown. It’s an important part of the journey.
Over the past month I’ve been doing some work with the great team at Indie Travel who have just published the first two in their new destination guidebooks. Of course working with them has been fun, if a little challenging – as I have had to consciously stop myself from getting up and hitting the road again. Reading through the Indie Guide to Las Vegas was a great reminder of the wonderful trip my Englishman and I had there in 2008, but reading through the Indie Guide to Buenos Aires…well, that was a challenge.
I almost grabbed the kids and said ‘let’s flag school/uni/work and go!’
Thankfully, one of the things I’ve learnt is that I am older and wiser and travelling is not escapism, it’s journeying with a purpose. Where once I did grab my army surplus backpack and find the first bus out of town when I wanted to get away from my problems, now I know that approach doesn’t work. As I said in my last post – shit is still shit wherever you are in the world.
What changes is your ability to manage and grow through the obstacles that challenge you on the path, wherever they are – overseas or at home. But I still hid the passports until the travelling urge had passed.
Do you agree with this fab quote? – “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” (Henry Millar)
What have you learnt on your travels?
NB/ Go and have a look at the new Indie Travel Guides – to Las Vegas and to Buenos Aires – they’re brilliant. I never knew you could get gambling lessons for free in Las Vegas, or that Buenos Aires had some of the best urban graffiti in the world. Lots of little titibits here that made me want to go.
Disclaimer – If you click through and purchase either guide I will receive a small affiliate commission. But that doesn’t mean they’re not great reads. They are.