I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had the opportunity to travel more extensively than many. But luck has only been part of the equation. Granted my personal circumstances have been accommodating to my wanderlust, no question. However there has also been the drive to travel, a real passion for it that has also kept me going to new places…and often returning to familiar haunts over and over.
Travel is not for everyone, especially in the era of surly TSA agents, over-crowded planes, and varying airline regulations that would make the Third Reich flinch. If you feel panic rather than a sense of opportunity at a cancelled flight then long-distance travel may not be your cup of tea. Ask yourself honestly how you would feel about being plopped down in the middle of a city where it’s 97 degrees (F) and you’re wearing your winter clothes, the language is incomprehensible to you…even the alphabet, and the city could take lessons in traffic flow from an anthill. If “hives” come to mind, then maybe you’d prefer a vacation over travel. But I just happen to dig the euphoria I feel then. It only reminds me that I’m on the road again.
One of my biggest problems with travel is deciding where to go. The possibilities are infinite and I’d be less than honest if I said I didn’t have a bucket list. It may not be formally written down but I do have a list of places I’d like to experience in my head. The key word here is “experience.” Notice I didn’t use “I want to see.” They are not one in the same.
There are certain places that I return to multiple times and others that I’ve only visited once but would like to go back. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve gone to London and I’ve never had the same experience twice. Of course on the first trip I was totally focused on seeing the “sights.” But on later visits I no longer had that urge and I was more satisfied with slowing down to feel the vibe of the city, wander into everyday neighborhoods, visit friends there, to experience rather than do. Sydney, Paris, and Bangkok are also destinations in this category for me.
A good friend of mine, and sometimes travel companion, returns to Istanbul multiple times each year. This doesn’t mean she is in a travel rut. On the contrary actually; she and I will be going to Uganda later this year to see a total eclipse of the sun at Murchison Falls National Park while staying in a safari lodge. But Istanbul is her city, a city she’s learning far beyond the Istiklal Caddesi, Sultanahmet, and Taxim Square. Each visit adds a new dimension of understanding and broadens the experience.
So this is why I go back. Does anyone want to go to Cambodia with me? I can drop you off at Angkor Wat but there’s a little Khmer deli in Phnom Penh that I’ve been dying to experience.