I’m in the lounge at Pearson Airport. I’m about to embark on a 20 hour paid trip to Australia, business class all the way. I am extremely privileged. But this is not a post about the joys of business travel.
In fact, this is the anti-business class blog; this is a homage to a dying type of travel, the kind I did throughout my 20’s and occasionally, but with less and less frequency in my 30’s.
The type of travel I’m referring to is where you get off a plane with a limited budget (the smaller the better). You take the local busses because that’s all you can afford and you eat local food because, ditto, this is the cheapest option.The goal here in this type of travel is extremely simple. it is to exist in another place. it is simply to exist. It’s staying in rat infested, bug crawling, 10$ a day hotels. It’s having awkward conversations with locals and feeling out of the comfort zone. It’s not really knowing what the point is, but still recognizing that there is one, and that each day you are growing. It’s not having a timeline
I don’t often use the word “longingly” but I this is how I recall this type of travel. I crave it in the way people often talk about a dead lover. I recognize that I don’t have the time or life position to partake in this type of travel and I might never have it again (unless I achieve my goal of doing the tour d’afrique on my 40th).
To be frank, that type of travel is the reason I got into the travel business, because I truly think that this type of travel is transformational and it truly bothers me that more people have never truly experienced being unhinged, and simply exist in a different place for the simple pleasure of doing so..
My progression in how I travel has followed a progression: starting on a shoestring travel budget, advancing to moderate and now, working with tourism boards, mostly luxury, flying business, and staying in high end hotels.
But let me end by saying that where I am now is more hollow. This type of travel results in the same rat race typical to North America, where the point is simply to prove that you are important enough, and have enough money to afford these privileges. In the end, it ultimately contradicts the entire purpose of travel which is to allow a new place to seep into you and be absorbed by its people, smells, and come back slightly changed.
And, in spite of all the luxuries of the next 20 hours of my life, the way I used to travel is the only type of travel in which I returned richer than before I left,.