The meaning of travel

By Goya Verity

With travelling being a time when we can escape from the chaos of everyday life, many see it as a time for cultural education, creativity, and the broadening of the mind. Most of us cannot conceive of a life without travel in our current era, with the world being more connected than ever before and flights available to all four corners of the Earth. 

‘Travelling’ might have become this glossy term that gap-year students use to explain their fruity-coloured Instagram pictures, when it is more actually of a sociological phenomenon. The attractive aspect of this bubble-gum fantasy is that travelling transports you through space and time to a better part of the world away from laptop computers, rain, and routine.

One might want to travel to enjoy the cultural gems of certain cities: Rome, Istanbul, and Paris, whilst for others travel means suntans, cocktails, and white virgin beaches: Maldives, Ibiza, Mallorca. On the inverse, travelling can also be incredibly tedious when it entails long-haul flights to return to your home on the other side of the world. Regardless of our reasoning, we are always grateful to arrive safely at our destinations. 

Travel fills up our personal lacunas which we long to satisfy and this will change depending on our own needs and times (and budget!). The famous ‘seek and ye shall find’ could not be more relevant to our travel pursuits: seeking out cultural education through museums, private tours, and sightseeing can help us understand our surroundings and context better in the world in which we live in. Such enrichment can only be beneficial to self-awareness and knowledge of the progression of humanity which makes us all the wiser. 

It can be a wonderful way to recharge our batteries, bond with family and friends, and to see the world beyond Google Earth. But travel can also be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. It is in its binaries that makes travel such a thrilling adventure. Perfect planning can go a long mile, but it is in travel’s unexpected turns in which we reveal our true colours and abilities and help us grow.

It is in its binaries that makes travel such a thrilling adventure

For those who believe that my account of travelling is too existential, the peace and quiet of faraway paradises accompanied by a piña colada is a much more appealing and realistic part of this ‘phenomenon’ we call ‘travelling.’ Unwinding in exotic environments can do wonders for our health and relationships, but also contributes to this process of self-understanding that I mentioned previously – whether it is noticing local flower and fauna, eating where the locals eat, or simply looking at who is around you, one cannot escape from the novelties of the world even if we do try to escape our own mundane settings. 

I grew up traveling between two countries as a dual national. Between all the early starts and going through checklists and passport numbers as a child, travelling is part of my life and has henceforth become a way of life – it is the nomadic sequence which has underpinned my identity.

Travelling is a part of my life and has henceforth become a way of life

Now that I am a bit older, my travelling has taken me beyond Spanish and English borders on group holidays and my year abroad, and while I can recount with awe the magnificent museums and sights of all the places I have visited, none stand out so much as my exponential personal growth each time I step off a plane. Travelling for me means freedom: freedom to return to home, to visit overseas friends, granting my independence in everything that I do whilst quenching my thirst to see the world.

The wealth of experience one has as a result of travel can be profound. It is through stepping out of everyday life that we expose ourselves to new paths: that is what travel really is. Achieving extraordinary things and places by going out of the ordinary. One does not have to go anywhere geographically: taking a train from home to our darling Durham might not seem to constitute overseas travel, but travel is about crossing boundaries whether physical or emotional. As far as I am concerned, this generation, who is compelled by a youthful impulse to explore the world and define ourselves away from our home nest, is quite good in both senses of my arbitrary definition. 

It is through stepping out of everyday life that we expose ourselves to new paths: that is what travel really is

Photo credit: Goya Verity

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