Many of us have had the fortuitous opportunity to travel. Whether it be a childhood family vacation or a school service trip, time spent abroad undoubtedly widens horizons. Each unique travel experience provides opportunities for growth, and frequent travellers grow to realise that with every trip, travel becomes increasingly precious and exciting. This is why it is important to make the most out of every voyage, whatever or to wherever it may be.
Why is the need for travel so pervasive in humans? Alain de Botton, a widely travelled philosopher, states that “it is not necessarily at home that we encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.” Backpackers travelling from place to place with the urge to “find themselves” may resonate deeply with his statement. Exposure to foreign places helps people experience foreign emotions that are unfamiliar but not necessarily alien. Through these rare moments where one finds himself far away from his everyday settings, one can discover different aspects about himself that he may not have had any reason to encounter before. To be fully immersed in the travelling experience, travel alone. When surrounded by familiar faces, it is easy to assume one’s everyday self, which may not be the mindset that a traveller wants to be in when he wants to explore new territories both physically and mentally.
Alain de Botton also states that it is not the destination that is the end goal; the joys of travel are not subject to the grandeurs of location, but is “perhaps more dependent on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” A trip to a relaxing tropical island can be just as enjoyable as a heavy duty service trip, as long as the traveller has an open mindset that is willing to embrace new sights and experiences, which is the true virtue of travelling.
Last but not least, beauty should be encountered head-on. According to Botton “a dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.” This explains the predominant need people have to capture each moment on camera- to save the memory. However, how often does one look back on photos and experience the same genuine awe? A moment of true beauty is always more vivid when experienced in a holistic, genuine manner.
Traveling is a form of art. It is enjoyable, exciting, but also can be incredibly profound. A traveller who is open-minded and eager to absorb new experiences will gain much more from every trip, and those journeys will twine together to form new branches in his identity.