Over the last few months I have been reading up on long term travelers. The idea grips me, but that buck pretty much stops at that. I read and follow people who have traveled 40 countries on the trot or 100 countries in their twenties. I want to do that, I definetely want my passport tattoed with immigration stamps. The moment I start planning, mountains crop up in between and somehow there is a feeling that there the need to cross is still not that strong.
In this post, I have tried to detail out my thought process for the same. The argument starts at a very basic level, why do I travel? The next part takes cues from culture and upbringing where I have explored the Indian impact in the thought process. Finally it is a personal opinion regarding manifestation of my professional education in the real world.
Why do I travel?
In one my older posts about the Indian Railways, I spoke about booking of tickets about 90 days in advance and how it used to be the most important motivator to perform well in exams. In a lot of ways, I still subscribe to the theory. Vacations/travel is looked upon as reward for hard work. The deserved break. The deserved meditation time, the deserved self – intrispection time and the time to plan ahead.
Traveling for years at a stretch to me feels like having sweets/desserts for all 7 courses of the meal. It is something I cannot imagine doing as it would lose its charm of being a stress buster and something that I look forward to. There is a danger of becoming a robot and not enjoying the ‘vacation’ like I do now.
Is a vacationer a traveler?
The most absurd of arguments that I have heard, is that people going on vacations or people going to ‘tourist’ places are not a travelers. There is a difference in between a ‘traveler’ and a ‘tourist’!
When I travel, I love eating at Dhabas (roadside eateries) where truckers eat, places that live in oblivion as much as the tour giude recommended places and spend a few bucks. I have loved eating Tapas at La Ramlas in Barcelona as much as eating instand noodles in the company of yaks in a tent and giving the only business of the day to the woman in Ladakh!
Going to Folegandros in Greece was a decison I made purely to explore, the same was the case with Dholavira in India.Again Santorini in Greece was equally important. Similary the Rann of Kutch is a sight to behold. So there is no reason why the an exploration cannot be mixed with tourist places
The only regret I have is that because if the jam packed itinerary I might not be doing complete justice. But the dose of medication is good enough injects enough fresh air for me to plan the next trip right at the end of it
Money, stability and future
All the above three things affect my thought process and they are borrowed heavily from the Indian culture. The simple logic behind thinking about all of these is to create a buffer for yourself. Life has ups and downs – something that is accepted as a world known fact, the buffer helps during those.
Till now I havent read up on people who have been successfully able to create this buffer while traveling. It is a very capital intensive proposition with returns only enough to sustain. Most such bloggers talk about cutting costs in various ways. Whether it be selling possessions back home or staying in low budget hostels or somehow be a little uncomfortable in travel. Budget travel is becoming the key! Somehow I want my life to have enough money to be able to spend a decent middle class life beck at home. Stay in good places on a vacation and eat the amazing local cuisines within average budgets.
When you live in a country of 1.3billiin people, the competition is cut throat. Whether you are a traveler or not there are hundreds and thousands of people eying your post/work. Understandably so where work is hard to come by especially in the recent years of economic downturn. And then on top of it if you are unavailable for long periods, it is a virtual restart.
Friends and aquaintences in the HR industry have pointed out that during interviews they prefer people who have a continuation. Gaps are looked at with suspicion. A friend in very clear words said that unlike the West we dont appreciate gaps and the experience on travel doesnt really count as tangible.
Under such circumstances, there is a fear, a constant one which stops me from taking the plunge. Just what if I’m done with travel, am I willing to restart?
There is a fact that one day you would grow old and most probably suffer with health problems. A state like India, doesnt provide free health care to all citizens. In that case, very honestly Im nt interested in suffering knowing the fact that there is possible medication. Or beg for somebody to pay for the treatment. I need my buffer for the same whch again seems difficult to create being a traveler.
In our Indian culture, there is a very strong emphasis on family. The defitinition of family might be becoming more and more nuclear but the idea of generations taking care of each other exists very clearly. The idea is to provide for the future of your next generation. This part is a dilema because I have not accepted it as my responsibility yet, but is a minor concern.
What my professional education warrants!
As an architect , we go through a daily grind of meetings, drawings, site visits and other shenanigans related to any job. I love the product at the end of it. There is a certain tangibility about it. Travel on the other hand somehow feels more like a never ending road.
There are arguments that, the experience in various cultures and meeting different people is enriching. Visiting different places enhances the thought process. I do not argue with regards to the above. But, where does all this manifest itself? In my opinion the job/business is the place where all this comes into full effect. That something I want and that is my dream. Travel is a tool to enhance it.
To conclude, I would love to sit with somebody, discuss, argue get brainwashed into giving up my notions and fears. I want an honest one on one conversation with a fellow traveler to quell some of my querries. Open for discussion.