I have a spare 20 minutes before I need to head to my piano student but I’ve already left the office for the day. Not enough time to go home, I can’t go get a snack with my Invisalign in, the weather is threatening another thunderstorm, so what’s a woman to do? I’m reclined in my car, typing this post on my phone to try to make good use of my time.
My good friend Ashley made a solid point in a comment last week and it got me thinking. We’ve both spent years alone, having adventures, and breaking ourselves out of our comfort zones. We’ve tried new things and gone to new places by ourselves. I started to think about the evolution of travel, my aversion to the idea of “authentic travel”, and the allure of excitement our generation seems to seek.
Travel has changed so much in the last century. Airplanes? A man on the moon? A car in nearly every household? The technological advances in the world of travel have happened at an astounding pace. There are few completely remote destinations left to explore. I may be alone in this thought, but I believe that also leaves us with fewer completely genuine travel experiences. The Internet both connects the world – which is amazing – but also homogenizes us. I can hop on a plane to a third-world country and meet someone who may live in conditions you’d never see in the US who also owns an iPhone. Yes, on one hand, that’s the genuine reality of the world today, but on the other hand…how many new experiences are we truly getting by jet-setting to a new time zone only to see what we left at home?
As the world grows smaller, finding unique and extraordinary experiences becomes more challenging. We can find guidebooks on how to navigate nearly any remote area or hire professionals to take us to the top of Everest (if we can afford it). The people we meet often speak at least one language we can speak and they’re just as familiar with technology and pop culture. The food we find can often be found in the States.
Is our desire to travel really based in the hope of exploring the unknown or experiencing something unique? Or is it driven more by how much we hope to see now that we have the means? Traveling is way more attractive than a desk job, for sure, but WHY? Our grandparents would have been thrilled to find high-paying work with a pension and would never have considered quitting to find themselves on an adventure. Most people around my age can’t imagine working behind a desk for 30 years and not setting foot on another continent. Have the attitudes toward what makes a life successful changed so much? Does traveling make us more successful?
I don’t yet have the answers. I wish I did. I wish I knew why “somewhere, anywhere” pulls so strongly to my core. I wish I knew what I hoped to find out there. But, as Paul Coelho eloquently told us in “the Alchemist,” the treasure was waiting right at home throughout the entire journey.