Travel Wanker: Somebody who travels and can speak of nothing else upon their return.
It is hard not to sound like a travel wanker, when you are in fact one. Yes I have a world map at home with all my travel paths etched in, yes I begin most conversations with “Well, I first learnt to salsa when I was in Cuba…” or “What inspired me to become an English Language teacher, was the time I spent teaching Monks English in Laos….”,
“Yeah Sigiriya is awesome, but not nearly as breathtaking as Angkor Watt”. (See what I did there? Assuming most people have heard of Angkor Watt, but not everybody has heard of Sigiriya – total travel wanker.)
After years of solo travel I have for the first time even started a travel blog, thus graduating to full travel wanker status.
Yes, I am a travel wanker, but in my defence at least I acknowledge this fact, and further more I haven’t always been one.
The first time I ventured overseas by myself I was a wide eyed, chubby cheeked, naïve early twenties girl, with a back pack crammed with daggy ‘travel clothes’ and enough medical supplies to start up a small clinic of my own. I had zero attitude and was scared to death.
I spent the first week hauled up in a dingy, cold guesthouse in Hanoi, Vietnam, crying on the phone to my boyfriend and only venturing out for food, after serious pep talks to ease the fears of crossing those petrifying Hanoi streets with their oodles of motorbikes zooming by and their total lack or road rules.
It was only when I was halfway to Sapa, drinking beer with fellow travellers and locals that something inside of me shifted, and I can’t say I’ve ever really been the same since.
People talk about ‘the travel bug’, but for me that suggests that at some point it goes away, like a fever ( unless it is more alike to the reoccurring dengue?).
It hasn’t gone away for me, I keep hoping it will, that one day I will wake up and feel like committing to a full time job, full time boyfriend and even a full time mortgage, but I am 30 this year, and that hope is starting to wane.
The thing is, I don’t think I talk about travel or write about travel in order to make myself sound wise or deep, or to justify the thousands of dollars spent traversing the globe, I talk about it because I am in love with it. Infatuated by it, addicted to it.
I don’t really know what it is about travel, because it’s not always good. One day you are hiking a volcano in Guatemala and toasting marshmallows on lava with 5 brand new best friends from across the globe, and the next wandering the empty streets of scary San Salvador, in the dark by yourself, wondering if you will ever see a bed or plate of food again, and wishing more than anything that you were being tucked into bed by your mum and being read “The Magic Faraway tree”.
Travel for me is something I can own, shape, inhale and become. Whatever the hell that means, see: travel wanker!
By nature I am shy, timid and unsure of myself, but travel makes me think: Yes you are actually very strong, capable, and friendly, yes you can actually navigate a foreign city and find food, shelter and transportation despite not speaking a word of Singhalese, Mandarin or Hungarian.
Travel also makes me see things differently, suddenly my problems are minuscule, compared to the poverty around me and often I feel inspired to change things in my life because of my travels. When you travel, all you own is on your back, you can leave to the next town or even the next country whenever you choose, and you start to realise that:
1) material possessions are pretty meaningless
2) The biggest obstacle to change is our own minds and not the external factors around us, which we tend to blame instead.
I think that I will always travel, and if life prevents me from doing so, then I’ll reach for my National Geographics, travel literature and documentaries and let some other travel wanker do the hard work for me.
One final note: Please check out this travel show about two mad Finnish guys, Riku and Tunna, they are my new heros.