Travel Doesn’t Have To Be Poetic

Does everything have to be so poetic?

I love to travel. I really do. And I love it, I’m sure, for the reasons anyone else would. Experiencing new things… trying the food… changing the scenery… taking shitty Instagrams in front of famous places and run-down doorways that, to someone on their couch in North America, probably looks pretty exotic with a Sepia filter.

Just getting out of the house, mainly. You can travel to Europe, Southeast Asia, or only an hour away – for me, crossing the Canadian-American border can be a mini-vacation, only about 20 minutes and 15 miles long – and you know that freedom it gives you, like a breath of air you might have just cried out.

People are happy and sad and they rotate between the two. Doing something different helps us control the mood swings.

But travel is like anything, and so in this day and age where it seems every day brings a new Business Insider story about some wanderlusting entrepreneur – some 30-year-old couple who are advertising their blogging on Facebook, some tour guide operator with a boat and VIP entry to some chain of clubs in Croatia, or some dude seeking a female companion for the trip of a lifetime – and his new business, the ironic thing is that being open and inclusive and outgoing and social, that can actually isolate many.

Those who share their story with us – you know, ‘I QUIT MY JOB AND TRAVELLED THE WORLD… AND YOU COULD, TOO!’ – only make us feel shittier and alone and clueless. Because they know very well, not everyone could do that. Or they’d be a lot of consumers and no sellers. (Like Jordan Belfort standing on stage and passing his sales sage-dom onto you, it’s impossible for everyone in that audience to become Jordan Belfort. Because Jordan Belfort’s on stage, and they’re in the audience… and you can’t buy wisdom with an admission ticket. You’re either wise or you aren’t. It’s better to know you aren’t than to think you are when you’re not, anyway.)

I’ve done a few interviews with a few guys behind a Vancouver YouTube channel I admire and enjoy, SundayFundayz, and their base motto is, ‘If you can, you should’. It’s an excellent line, a great model. But I’ll admit, because I’m not physically able to do backflips while cliff jumping or Parkour through Prague, I do feel a little left out watching their adventures. Not ‘left out’ in the sense of, ‘Oh, I wish I was there right now.’ But ‘left out’ in the sense of, ‘I’m not like that. I don’t think I could ever be, or would want to be.’

I see the YouTube trailers for party hostels and two things cross my mind – one, I’d love to get a beer right now. Two, could I really pull that off, at a place like that?

When I watch the guys behind Global Degree waxing on about congratulating themselves for opening their arms and their atlas, I think, ‘Hey, that’s great for them.’ But then I watch their episodes, I see the words fly across the screen like a bad motivational poster in an office park – ‘Here is the story of a young man, who was told he cannot, but discovered he can’ – and I think, ‘Barf’.

It has the adverse effect it intends to. While it aims to reach out and wrap in, it pushes away anyone who’s not yet vulnerable or self-conscious enough.

Seriously, watch the video in that link above. (I’ve embedded it below, too.) It’s supposed to speak to everyone and anyone, to be down-to-earth. But it’s pompous in a frat boy way.

People start out trying to escape a corporate world of beiges, greys, and shades. What they form is another cult altogether, one that’s just as brand-able and sell-able and typical as the one they left – like in Silicon Valley, where Richard describes the Google-ish desperation to appear cool as “you know, with bike meetings and voluntary retreats that are actually mandatory, claiming to make the world a better place all the time.”

Don’t pass me sugar and call it salt, essentially.

There’s a very good show on the Esquire Network called ‘The Getaway’. The series, produced by Anthony Bourdain and utilizing his ZeroPointZero’ish transitions and special effects, follows celebrities (most of them not ‘A’ level) around their favourite cities and destinations.

Jack McBrayer goes to Hawaii. Adam Pally in Vegas. Jenny Slate in Barcelona. Chrissy Teigen in Bangkok.

And then there’s Yasiin Bey in Morocco. It’s hard enough to take the guy seriously when his entourage is one guy whose job title is Journalist/Artist/Barber, and it’s impossible as Bey (formerly known as Mos Def, in case you didn’t know) drops lines like the following for 43 minutes:

“If I’m ever in a beach environment, I may not always get in the water but I think there’s something valuable about just putting your feet in the tide and walking it out.”

And then he walks along and tries to rap about his trip to Morocco for the episode’s last minute. And says some stuff about food and how it makes him stronger, eating his way through the world or something.

But seriously, how pretentious can you get?

Why not just say you enjoy being in the ocean? 7 billion other people do, too. Civilizations have been formed around the ocean and the water for thousands of years – Yasin Bey’s not the first to have the thought.

It’s simple, isn’t it?

Food’s good, the ocean’s the ocean, and landing in Africa’s probably something you’ll remember.

Sure, you can travel to find yourself. But you can also just travel because you had the time or the opportunity. You can also just travel because you want to – you don’t have to explain it or cause someone’s eyes to roll when you talk like you’re the only 23-year-old who’s ever wanted to smoke pot in Amsterdam or drink cheap beer in Thailand.

I know ‘You Only Live Once’ and I know Hunter Thompson wrote, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” I’m a sucker for all that promo as much as anyone is. And I feel guilty too, when I get home after a couple weeks or a month away and I’m blabbering on and on about which city was my favourite or how great the hostel was – basically like a hotel! – and I can see my suburban audience think, “So, are you working right now?”

But you shouldn’t have to sell your parents or your friends on why it’s a good idea to book a flight, pack a bag, and take off. There doesn’t need to be a salary or a blog attached. You don’t have to climb the Eiffel Tower or stand in a three-hour line for the Louvre; you don’t have to do it while you’re young just to do it while you’re young. You don’t have to take a hundred photos, if you don’t want.

You really can just keep it all for yourself actually. You can be selfish about it. Or else, it’s sort of pointless.

Go to do yoga or to write or for something spiritual, if you need to. Go to meet people. Go to be alone. Sell everything and go, or go whenever you get a sliver of a window to.

Fuck, go for whatever you want. Just go. And don’t explain yourself. We get it.

VIDEO: ‘If You Can, You Should – High on Life’

VIDEO: ‘Drop Everything – Global Degree’

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