My family did not travel when I was a child. We were common vacationers. Like most present-day, working-class American families, if we went anyplace, it was because we were an extended get-away — short relaxation trips with a proper beginning and end, attached to the schedule of the functioning year, focused as a rule around seeing family members: to Philadelphia to see my cousins or long travels to see my grandma in Florida.
It was typical to take long car rides, stay at big-chain hotels, and visit theme parks.
We went to Bermuda for a few days when I was about eleven, too young to enjoy it. We also went on a cruise when I was sixteen.
However, that was the most bizarre result we ever achieved.
We “traveled” as Americans of the middle class were supposed to. We didn’t go on any camping or backpacking trips or trips to exotic places. The routine that my friends and their families followed was the same. They went on vacation as instructed by society.
This, in my mind, was travel: an arranged respite in the beat of corporate life, the grown-up likeness being on school break. You put in a lot of effort, then you treated yourself to a destination with everything included that was only a short flight away, or you spent time away from the office in the living room of a relative. You took just enough time off to be able to go to work every day of the week for decades until the time came for that rumored retirement when life could begin fully.
When you were older, rich, or retired, traveling took a lot of time. or back in the day, when you were a broke college student who didn’t care a whit. At that point, you could truly perceive and comprehend the world.
Adults weren’t meant to participate in it. Work had to be done. We only had time to take a break.
I never realized that there was more to the world than hotels, cruises, resorts, and massive bus tours that take you from one attraction to the next. I grew up in my little vacation bubble. You can’t know what you don’t know, as the saying goes.
Therefore, I was astonished when I first met backpackers while traveling in Thailand. My perspective on the world changed fundamentally as a result of what I learned about backpacking culture on that trip. I had no idea that my bubble was not the only thing there. It was as if I had never seen it live before.
I, therefore, returned home, quit my job, and traveled.
I conceived of myself as a wanderer: a daring individual peeling away the layers of the world in the hopes of learning more about my place in it, meeting cool people, experiencing exciting things, and getting a little drunk along the way.
On my book tour, one of the most frequently asked questions was about how to get the most out of your trip. Matt, I don’t have ten years to travel the world. What can I accomplish in a week?
We have been taught through media, popular culture, and movies that vacations are for working adults.
When you have time, you go on trips.
When you only have a week to see a city and a long list of things to do, who can be an adventurous traveler?
At the point when somebody tells you “We’re going voyaging”, you will generally consider it something with time. We’ve been modified to hold that view.
However, as I explain in my book, travel isn’t really about how long you stay somewhere. A way of thinking, it is.
Traveling is a state of mind, whether for two days, two weeks, or two years.
For me, “travel” means doing some digging beneath the surface. It’s outside: learning about the people and places of the world. Internal as well: experimenting with new activities and stepping outside of your comfort zone It also involves getting lost or confused and figuring out how to get away.
That can occur in a single day, week, month, or year.
Traveling does not necessarily require more time than a vacation.
It’s not something that only certain groups of people can do.
It is not something that you can do with superhuman strength or power.
You can accomplish this by putting yourself out there, attempting to meet new people, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and challenging yourself.
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