"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls."
- Anaïs Nin
At base, I think that's true. We do travel, of course, for reasons more material: business trips, family vacations, education, and the like. But, as we know usually after we've gone and returned home, the most important aspect of travel often isn't the destination at all. Instead, it's the journey--not the trip there or the arrival--which comprises the people we meet and with whom we travel, all the observations we make, the food we try, the screaming child in the seat two rows back, and the hours-long lines at customs.
The material and, perhaps, primary reasons for travel notwithstanding, what makes any journey worthwhile? That unending search for the Other, the thirst that drives each of us to pursue it and come to know ourselves is, perhaps, what makes travel worthwhile.
So now here are the packing essentials for your next trip:
1. Pen and paper. Record your thoughts and experiences. Use at least some time each day to write out highlights, then go back and fill them in later. Allow your nightly reflections to materialize and occupy physical space.
2. An open mind. Not the "open mind" that you claim to have when you talk to your conservative uncle. You travel and you have certain things you want to get done on your trip: see the Bund or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for example. But your journey can be so much more enriching if you allow yourself to wander off the beaten path. Talk to those people side-eyeing you while you take that touristy picture that will be fire on Instagram. Talk to the waitress beyond, "What do you suggest?
3. A good book. Preferably a coming-of-age story. Journeys are oftentimes internal, and by reading about another's journey while you're pursuing your own can help you gain immeasurable perspective while away.
Of course, don't forget your passport and those seventeen pairs of underwear (you never know!), either.
The exigencies of modern life can easily distract us from what's really important in life: people. You can go to any city in the world and you will find towering structures in concrete and steel, urban nightlife, traffic, and souvenirs. What you won't find from one city to another, however, is the people. Each person's life, experiences , and understanding are unique--as are your own--and sharing them, even if only momentarily, is the zest of a full life.
Published by Daniel J.