What pulls you back to the road?

Here’s a question for the serial vagabonds out there, or at least folks who’ve made two or more trips abroad: What draws you back to the road?

I’m curious about the actual, specific behaviors that motivate you to buy yet another plane ticket. Call them activities, pursuits, hobbies, favorite pastimes, things to do, whatever. Please be truthful, even if you have to be anonymous.

Some examples: Eating local food, scuba, drinking with strangers, paragliding, waking up late, volunteering, renting motorcycles, one-night stands, walking around new places, using your drug of choice for cheap, climbing mountains, performing concerts, studying sculpture, etc.

I’m trying to get some concrete examples here because reasons for travel are so often presented as emotional or metaphorical. Relaxation, de-stressing, thrill-seeking, following bliss, finding yourself, taking a chance, going on a journey of discovery. These are emotional vagaries that mean ten different things to ten different people.

If we’re going to try to answer questions such as de Botton’s wonder about “why and how we should go” (see Rolf’s post below), it seems helpful to start off by defining the specific elements of the road that keep pulling people back. De Botton says that travel is an activity that’s especially revealing about the dynamics of our search for happiness, but “travel” isn’t a very specific activity.

So in other words: What, for you, are the activities that make up travel?

Photo by tranchis via Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (11)  | August 4, 2010
Category: Vagabonding Life

11 Responses to “What pulls you back to the road?”

  1. Silvia Says:

    Hmm… I’m not sure if there’s one particular thing that leads me to travel, but I have a list of places I want to see along with activities to go with them and right now I’m just trying to get through it. For example, I’m leaving to do the Machu Picchu hike in a few days and during that same trip I’m also going to be rafting for the first time. I think one common factor for me though is just getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people as well as trying new things that I might otherwise never do.

  2. Steve Says:

    When I stay too long in one and the same place I get restless. My feet start itching and I start daydreaming. Another thing is that I am a different person when I travel, more open to people and opportunities. I am more like I want to be when I travel.

  3. GypsyGirl Says:

    Why I travel: As a child the exploration seed was planted in my imagination by my best male role model—my art teacher, Tom. For him, the world was a playground—knowledge was something to be experienced and fascination could be nurtured by travel. Just into my teen years he committed suicide and was dead in his flat. It was four days before anyone found him. His life was gusto and as long as what he believed in continues on…so does his spirit.

    The things that keep me perpetually traveling—boxed juice, amazing moments of true bliss [on the shores of the Baltic Sea(Sweden) to the Rocky Mountains (Montana,USA)] my love to experiencing something first hand (know what extreme cold is-getting frost bite) connect with all five senses (painful water blisters from the Costa Rican sun) I have expensive hobbies (horses) but ultimately nurture the need for relationship—living the way I do, on the road in my caravan (along with my critters) draws not only us closer together but weaves me into another world of those who also experience the unconditional love of animals and the thrill of being alive. They have become my tribe. For me it’s a freedom of choice and a choice of freedom—the road is a lifestyle. If I stay in one place too long I start rearranging furniture—so I’ve fixed that by just not owning much and knowing my home(on wheels)can have a front porch wherever I so deem it to be. The weight of my existence is through the stories I gain—rather than the stuff I have to show for it.

  4. Rebecca Says:

    Great question! Generally, most people hit the road because they’re restless, want to explore, or have the “escapism” archetype. After all, travel is an escape.

  5. DPB Says:

    It keeps you in check! Helps prioritize what is important in life. Sometimes the day to day grind we forget whats important to us and getting away and getting outside that comfort zone…gets us back in line sort of speak!! IMO
    Don’t stop movin’!!

  6. Jen Says:

    1) i love not knowing what is going to happen next. in my regular life, i hate unpredictability, but i thrive on it when i travel.

    2) i love public transportation. i’m directionally challenged and so when i travel i force myself to use public transportation to challenge myself and to get to know the city. i get a real sense of accomplishment from this.

    3) one of my favorite things to do when i travel the u.s. is to take the metro/bus/whatever into the city and then walk the city. i don’t know why, but i get a real high from walking a new city.

    4) there are lots of other reasons, but everyone else has already covered them.

  7. anonnymouse Says:

    (1) License to have conversations with strangers all the time without having to necessarily run into them forever. Similarly, to hear the stories of people who are out in the world as opposed to steady at home and the things they have seen or done and how they view life.

    (2) New breaks, waves, sleepy surf towns.

    (3) Cheap beer. Like 80% cheaper cheap. We are so overtaxed. I just want to have a cheap beer after my day by the sea with my friends.

    (4) Being able to live my life like I would live it at home if… : living in low key minimal accomodations, wearing the same clothes all the time, independently prioritizing my day, being in nature more/the office less.

  8. Nicolai Says:

    2 chicks at one time, man!

  9. Brett Says:

    Wow, thanks for all the comments here. I’m going to take a shot at it too… I like the act of having to start all over and figure out how things work. Mailing a letter, getting from A to B, the daily rhythm of mealtimes, the common foods and how much they cost at the market…these are the challenges that travel presents. For me, completing the challenge — figuring it out — gives the emotional rush (describe it as you wish) that is often cited as the reason for travel. (That’s just one example.)

  10. JDakpta Says:

    As you get older, you need to escape from your immediate surrounding to experience new things. New smells, sights, tastes, people, activities, etc… Its the same reason why the teen-age years are so amazing, you get to do so many things for the first time.

  11. Delia Says:

    for me, it’s about being a better person on the road. the specific activities that make up “a better person” are:
    talking to strangers, speaking in a foreign language, doing yoga daily, going with the flow, eating new food, exploring a new environment for the first time, being in a beautiful climate, seeing a place other people don’t see, being fiscally conscious, walking everywhere, taking pictures (and not having to feel so dumb and self-concious), seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, being adventurous, only having to be productive if I feel like it, being able to escape family/friends/technology/pop culture as much or as little as I want, being able to do everything cheap, observing and taking notes, seeing things through the eyes of a stranger