“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow.Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is ‘Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home."
-Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?
New discovery (I'm waiting for the book to come out here in the Philippines. I'm still reluctant to order stuff from Amazon since I feel like it will take FOREVER and I have the patience of a gnat. And I am apparently an old-fashioned-old school-no online shopping-shopper). It got me thinking about a recent conversation I had with a new friend (actually, a couple of new friends) about the kind of travel we prefer. I'm not one for the planned tours, held-up high flags, matching visors and following the leader type of travel. I'm one for the make your own plan and go with it type of girl.
I think travel is when you pay more for the experiences and the food than where you stay at night, because it only matters that you're safe and secure where you lay your head while you remember your adventures at the end of the day and dream about what's to come for the next.
I think travel is when you're willing to forego sit-down dinners and wander around street food stalls trying things you would never think to try back at home, and finding out the food you really love and really abhor.
I think travel is when you make your plans and pore over guidebooks (as the planner in me likes to do) but when you get lost and turn a corner and find yourself in a quiet little neighbourhood with a ton of character, the "plan" is tossed away with no complaints and you go headlong into a new spontaneous plan.
I think travel is when you find out that the features that you barely notice in yourself are attractive to others and you discover things that make you beautiful in their eyes and yourself.
I think travel is broken sentences and body language and the ability to translate everything by sheer force of will (and usually a smile -- and occasionally a calculator).
I think travel is when the simplest meal in the most unexpected place becomes the best hunk of meat or cup of coffee you've ever had your in your life.
I think travel is when you can stand engrossed in just one piece of art and find yourself stuck in a moment, oblivious to the tourists and people milling about you, only to wake up to find time passed you by and you've changed somehow.
I think travel is getting pissed at running out of water in the middle of you shampooing your hair and then laughing at yourself because you realize that the reason why plumbing sucks in the country is because every time they dig, they end up excavating thousands year old history and art.
I think travel is loving all the new food but slowly feeling the pangs of homesickness for your own and coming upon a McDonals is like an oasis in the dessert (because burgers sort of kind of feel like home).
I think travel is standing in the middle of a killing field or a coliseum and feeling the silence and quiet and chill in the air, and though you don't believe in ghosts or the supernatural, you end up believing that the spirits of the thousands who've lived and fought and died in the spot you're standing in continues to linger.
I think travel is finding out your bathroom gives you the practical choice to pee and shower at the same time (it's clever AND practical to have the showerhead directly over the toilet, is it not?) plus the addition of a toilet shower bidet makes this the wettest bathroom experience ever.
I think travel is when something as simple as a scarf becomes a shawl, skirt, umbrella, towel depending on the experience and the dirtier and soggier it gets, the more it tells the story of how many incredible experiences you went through.
I think travel is the thrill of changing new money and having to find out pretty quickly that it's not play money and running past your budget at the end of the day means taking advantage of 50% off croissants and baguettes to munch on for the next breakfast.
I think travel is feeling your heart burst at how many strangers are willing to smile at you and teach you things and just take time out in the world to give you, which has more value than money.
I think travel is finding out the best ways to travel, if it means on foot, by motorbike, by tuktuk, by bicycle, and only realizing how exhausted you are at the end of the day when you finally sit down and prop your feet up.
I think travel is that click in your head after so many days, when the unknown language seeps into your brain and you realize you can get by just a little faster than you did when you first arrived.
I think travel is when you've never been to this country, but it's like upon landing in that airport, your soul sighed and recognized something that made it feel like a part of it was home.
I think travel is new everything and old some things, when you realize just how different things are from what you know and still find the pattern of similarities to tell you that we're not as big a world as the world paints it to be.
I think travel is wanting to know what issues are happening in the country and finding out you're past your comfort zone but wanting to help or know more about their situation regardless.
I think travel is finding that little note of dissatisfaction in yourself and cultivating it to grow into ambition, refusing to be stagnant and insisting you take risks and travel and become richer in experience than security.
One of the best things my parents ever instilled in me was that travel was part of my education and every year, we would take a trip somewhere to continue learning. Now I never want to stop and I never want to be so comfortable that I'm only happy at home. Travel really is the only thing in the world where you spend more but get richer in return.
Abbi is a 28 year old petite human bean, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.