Is Travel the road to Nirvana?


While travelling in Europe last year I met a lot of interesting people. All travellers in their own right. Some more travelled than others. A few on their first international trip. Many who love the life on the road, others taking a short break to escape the monotony of their everyday lives. I also know of many who haven’t left their city and are yet to get out there. But they all have something in common. They all want to travel. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t. Or perhaps anyone who doesn’t like the idea of travel.

Everyone travels differently, with a different agenda.  And there isn’t any correct way to do so. Some folk want to see the wonders of the world, some would like to party at exotic beaches and some like me to just be around and see what the place throws up – just to see and understand a little bit of the world. One place at a time.

But this entire travel – wanderlust scene is being overdone. Looking at a picture of someone, backpack strung across his shoulders, walking through a breathtaking scenery is instantly associated with happiness – a sort of escapism and entry into this worryless world of new experiences. And that my friends is Marketing, not travel.

To be honest, ‘Into the Wild’ is what really got me into the travel space. McCandless’s anti materialist ethic, free-spirited travels really struck a chord with me. And I did get close to doing that but I guess I am not that courageous and now I am not sure I may ever. But thats still is part of the dream.

But I did travel a bit and had some amazing experiences. It did teach me a lot. But none of it really life changing. Nothing like the inspirational posts on Instagram. Common, who I am kidding, 2 weeks on the road doesn’t change too much. That’s like hoping for a miracle. But it does open you up to so many new and refreshing perspectives.

Travel has now become a trend. And from a trend it has now evolved into a rat race. Everyone wants a stamp on their passport. More the better. I had a friend put up a post on Facebook – ‘5 Cities in 7 days!”.

Thats is just defeating the purpose of it all. We turn the thing that allows us to temporarily escape from the rat race into a rat race in itself. It has become more about validation and approval on social media rather than doing it for the thrill and joy of it. Even worse, it puts quite a bit of pressure on folks who cannot afford to travel.

We are all guilty of this. Overselling and overdoing it and need to slow down.

While travelling to Thailand while browsing through ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland (it was shot on Maya Islands in Thailand) I came across the following quote. While I don’t completely agree with it, it is definitely worth considering to bring us back to reality to simply enjoy travelling and keeping it more personal.

“I don’t keep a travel diary. I did keep a travel diary once and it was a big mistake. All I remember of that trip is what I bothered to write down. Everything else slipped away, as though my mind felt jilted by my reliance on pen and paper. For exactly the same reason I don’t travel with a camera. My holiday becomes the snapshots and anything I forget to record is lost.”
― Alex Garland, The Beach

*Photograph taken at Ao Nang beach, Krabi – June 2017.