Two months in to the year and I’ve managed to get to Morocco, Ireland, Malta, Serbia, and Poland. I head Stateside later this week, and plan on spending time in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and the UK before the year is out.
I’m not sure where I get it from. My dad has a thing about planes believing that what goes up, must come down, and not necessarily on schedule. My mum isn’t big on travel either. And they swear I wasn’t adopted.
I’m lucky enough to have a job that facilitates this need and luckier still that those closest to me understand it and recognise the signs. I’ve noticed myself that if I’ve been too long in one place, I start to get antsy. My tolerance levels, never high to begin with, sink lower still. I find it hard to concentrate. My mind makes the journeys for me. I worry what life would be like were something to happen that would anchor me to one place. How would I cope if I had but two weeks a year in which to explore, or worse still, not be physically able to venture abroad. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
I’m currently rereading Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series set in Alaska. I’m more than half-way through and find myself envying her life … again. She’s a five-foot 30-something Aleut who does what she needs to do to get by in the Bush. She hunts. She fishes. She investigates. She lives on a 160-acre homestead in The Park. She’s a force to be reckoned with. And she hates leaving her world and venturing outside. And ’tis there that our paths diverge. I reckon if put to the pin of my collar I could do all the other stuff… but staying put in one place no matter how jaw-droppingly gorgeous it was? Not me.
Many years ago, a good mate of mine who lives on the big island of Hawaii was talking about buying a place on another island – just to get away from it all. I remember laughing at the good of it. There they were living in the place to which the world escaped and they were feeling the need to escape, too.
It got me thinking. Do I travel to escape, to get away? Do I travel because I need a change of scenery? Do I travel just to say I’ve been? And, as usually happens when I start talking to the universe, it sends me an answer. This time it sent me John Hope Franklin. A man I’d never heard of before. Had I studied history or grown up in America, I might have come across him sooner. But I didn’t and I haven’t. But his message was clear:
We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.
And therein lay my answer: I travel to share. An old friend, an inveterate explorer back in the day but now confined to closer quarters, thanked me once for taking them with me on my trips, for showing them places they’d never been, and introducing them to stuff that would otherwise have passed them by. I liked that.
A mate in Australia told me recently how much their postman enjoys my postcards and how he wishes I’d write clearer so he could read them. I liked that too.
This week, as I unpack, do laundry, and repack my bags, I’m grateful, yet again, that I love to travel and I’m grateful, too, for those who travel with me.