I've been rotated to the travel bench. I'm sitting out the next play. I find myself in a situation where I will not be able to travel for the foreseeable future. It's not a complaint, but a reality.
It means I've been given the chance to think. Admittedly, I'm not a notoriously deep thinker. To me, the meaning of life is appetite related and a black hole is the awkward period of time in between sporting seasons where tennis is played. Philosophical topics don't keep me up at night and the answers are never life defining. Nonetheless, there has been a particular question racking my brain: Why do people choose to travel?
My thoughts generally drift towards the age-old motto of 'finding yourself'. How often have you heard someone say: "I just need to get away to find myself, find out who I am and where I am in life." In terms of travel excuses, it sits at number one in the 'cliché reasons to go on a holiday' list.
I have met many travellers who have nonchalantly thrown this term around. It is these same people who conveniently believe that the answer is located on an Asian island, at the bottom of a bucket of homemade spirits and Red Bull syrup -- which I am confident is a banned substance on any sports anti-doping list. They tend to travel until they realise that it isn't a sustainable way to live. When internal organs start to shut down, it's a fair indication that you have not only found yourself, but you have also done (probably) irreparable damage to your liver.
Of course, there are people who need to get away from aspects of their everyday life to relax and regain focus. The monotony that so many people feel can be overwhelming, with the urge to escape too significant to ignore.
Similarly, there are people who want to party where the booze is cheap and morals are loose -- there are reality shows based around this very concept. Destinations such as Thailand's Koh Pha-Ngan, home to the famous Full Moon parties, are classic examples. Once, while en route to Koh Samui via boat, we made a brief stop at Koh Pha-Ngan to pick up the remnants of one of these parties. I watched as a girl was helped to her seat, complete with saline drip and a look on her face that only cheap cocktails and minimal sleep could provide. She became my poster girl for the partying traveller; going hard then going home.
There are a few who like to visit places because of the history and culture -- more than are given credit for. Walking in the footsteps of people long gone or living a culture vastly different to one's own is fair reasoning. The Tower of London, Colosseum in Rome or anywhere in Vietnam are such destinations.
I also have friends who love to homestay in remote communities. In terms of cultural immersion, it is second to none, although I'll readily admit that some of the meal-and-bedding options are not five-star. The term 'local delicacies' can often be interpreted as "the offal the locals won't touch but enjoy a laugh when the tourists have a go".
All come under the banner of experience. It is hard to replicate lessons learned and sights seen when travelling. Being able to say you survived situations or suffered through others while attempting to describe events and locations in a way that does them justice is reason enough to go.
What baffles me the most is that people readily come up with reasons to travel like it's a prerequisite. It's not. If you want to trek mountains, experience traditional lifestyles and immerse yourself in culture, do it. If you want to go on a three-month booze cruise throughout Asia, go for it.
There should never be justification for travel. Travel is experiencing places and people that interest you, however you see fit. The only person you need to justify it to is yourself. Everyone has opinions, but you should not have to explain yours. Just do it.