Seeking To Define Travel
These past few months we have been trying to find a definition for “travel”.
Confused with the type of ‘travelling’ we have been doing lately, we thought we would like to rediscover its meaning.
The thesaurus synonyms for this word are pretty straightforward – journey, tour, trip, voyage, trek, expedition, backpacking, excursion, sightseeing.
But what would the whole experience encompass and give us fulfillment as ardent travellers?
Can TRAVEL be a pithy word and fill the mindscape with a vivid canvas of awe and excitement immediately?
For example, when you think; Volcano (erupting red lava out of a crater on a mountaintop) or Antartica (unending expanses of ice, in the middle of nowhere, penguins adding color!).
What picture would travel conjure?
Which definition would make us look forward to our next sojourn?
Which elucidation, if we could stick to, would give us pleasure and make us yearn for more?
Or, would the interpretation change every time as the landscape does during the course of a journey, as the road changes with each bend?
Travel is an amalgamation of so many aspects – geography, history, culture, cuisine, nature, flora, fauna, adventure, indulging in a new or passionate hobby with different opportunities, finding time for yourself and intangibles like discovery of the self, conquering inane inner fears, introspecting and getting rid of the monkeys on your back and perhaps also simply spacing out mixed with fun and frolic.
Travel not to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.
There are many other ideas which have been perplexing us.
Is it to do with a hotel, a destination or an activity?
Been there, done that?
Is it a style statement?
“We stayed at The Oberois at Shimla. Oh, Wildflower Hall is so opulent! The only place to be staying if you are in that region.”
“Bangkok and Singapore are passé. What an experience the Northern Lights were.”
During travel how important is luxury?
Is neat, clean and hygienic good enough if you are getting to discover new vistas?
Are unexplored and uncharted paths not a good enough excuse for roughing out?
Why not a combination of luxury and comfort; of adventure by the day and of whisky and tikkas in the evening?
Does travel necessarily need to transcend from a simple holiday to a huge self growth phenomenon? Does it imperatively need to contribute to life changes, however incremental, for being meaningful?
How many of us are prepared to leave our homes and robotic selves behind as we put a lock on the front door and venture out?
Does standing under a towering and majestic deodar in a verdant forest in the middle of nowhere make one feel humble? Does it hurt the ego that one is a non entity here or does it overwhelm a being with a new freshness and zest for life?
How important are the experiences of resurgent emotions and new found confidences and feelings of achievements during travel?
How does it matter that we have off-roaded, wandered over hills and vales to experience the beauty of Himalayan peaks at close quarters with the breaking dawn and the setting sun? Are Nanda Devi (the highest peak wholly in India) or Leo Pargil (the highest peak of Himachal) or Kinner Kailash (the winter abode of Lord Shiva) which mesmerized me, not just patches of snow on a mountaintop.
Is travel a quest towards becoming a better human besides education and exploration? Or is that trying to put too profound a connotation to this simple word, which only means ‘going from one point to another’?
Isn’t one forest like any other, one mountain range like any other?
Who needs to burn rubber over back breaking roads, why graze your knees climbing a rock or perhaps fracture your ankle during touchdown at paragliding?
Maybe just stay at a luxury resort and spend time basking in the winter sun, enjoying your beer, spending some time at the health spa and generally spacing out!
Is a holidayer perceived to be of a different genre than from an adventure seeker?
Is a vacationer seeking something else than a nature lover?
Can a general traveler not be something of an explorer as well?
Why can’t one want a bit of everything or different things at various times without feeling judged?
Or can one be just chilled out without being too ambitious towards change?
Is travel about ‘around the world in 80 days’ or ‘being a castaway on a deserted island for a lifetime’?
To come back to the initial question – Can we have one single evocative image of ‘travel’. Or would the canvasses range from Van Gogh’s Daffodils to Renoir’s Beach Scene to Picasso’s Cubism with both the resurgent image and underlying imagery forming the impressions?
Let us decide if we need to categorise travel or keep it an open journey – a new encounter, a different discovery each time. A blank canvas (tabula rasa) whenever we start out on a trip. A myriad of colors, mirroring our experiences and feelings, when we return.
Express your take on these thoughts and let us share views with other ‘travelers’!