Why do I travel? Because I need to.
I have always been an explorer. Even from a very young age.
One of my most vivid early memories was of my panicked father standing on the bridge at Kakabeka Falls as he searching the crashing swells below him.
We were there for an afternoon hike with friends. I was 6 years old. My friend Amy and I had be exploring in front of our parents. We used to play this game we called “getting lost” where we would wander off and go on adventures exploring new places together. This is pretty easy to accomplish when you’re 6 and the whole world is still new. Our parents allowed it, though I suspect we were never actually as far out of sight as we thought we were. Well, except for this day.
I’m not entirely sure where we went but “Getting Lost” was a success! Eventually, we had to go searching for our parents. I remember passing my sister’s maroon stroller that had been parked on the path. My mom had left it in hopes that we’d see it and stay near it. But instead I remember just thinking “wow, this look’s just like Kathleen’s stroller, what are the chances!” and walked on. My parents had become concerned at this point, which bring me back to that first memory. I remember wondering what he was doing, looking down over the cliff like that. What was he looking for?
One look at the relief flooding his face as he came rushing towards me revealed the shocking truth:
Well, didn’t I feel just like the worst 6 year old ever. I recall being horrified with guilt. But I also remember feeling a bit offended. Indignant. As if I was stupid enough to have fallen over the falls!
Even at six I was in my element when I was exploring.
And you know what, over 20 years later and I still like playing my getting lost game. Only now I find myself having to go further and further abroad to find the new places.
And that, my friends, is where travel comes in.
I think some people are simply born with wanderlust burning through their veins. It certainly feels that way for me. It’s been the driving force of my entire life.
While I never judge others for their life’s path, I honestly cannot understand when a grown person tells me that they don’t even own a passport. What! How do you not own a passport!? How can one simply have no desire to see the world?
It goes against my entire perspective on the meaning of life. My feelings on this subject parallel those that a spiritually devoted person might have while trying to comprehend and understand those without faith. I feel like I need to sit down with those fools and preach to them about the joys of travel, about the errors of their ways and how it’s not too late!
Because how can one be content not knowing when there is so much out there waiting to be known? Not knowing what it’s like to swim in the crystal clear, 20C waters of the Andaman Sea? Not knowing the enchanting beauty that is Milford Sound after a rainfall? Not knowing just how incredibly soft the powder white sand of Whitehaven Beach feels between your toes?
But most importantly: not knowing the freedom and liberation that comes with hoisting up your backpack and setting off on a path with absolutely no idea where you will end up or when you’ll come back?
My life without these things seems incredibly drab. I’m sure I’d have a whole lot more money and probably a house and fancy things to put in it – but I’m certain that despite the the extra digits in my bank account my life as a whole would not be nearly as rich. No amount of money could ever adequately compensate me for a life without travel. The world just has too many magical places to offer me.
There is no number of trips that I could take that would ever fully satiate my wanderlust. There will never be enough time for me to see it all. To know it all. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try.
Because that drive to know, that desperate need to experience – it can’t be turned off.
It’s in my blood.