Why go anywhere?

In The Art of Travel, Alain de Boton points out that while we are inundated with advice on where to travel to, we hear little of why we should go.  This really hit a nerve with me, because at an alcohol-fuelled gathering of some of my lovely friends on Friday, convened to celebrate my imminent departure to South America, one of my old university pals asked me what my objectives were in making the trip. I was thrown off balance by his question and all I was able to come up with (and even that took me about an hour) was to ‘get my Spanish back’.

The question stayed with me, burrowing into my brain over the weekend, until I asked another friend if she thought I needed objectives before hoisting my rucksack on my back . Her wise response was that if I didn’t have any objectives I wouldn’t know if I’d met them when I got back. And apparently I’d previously said I wanted to go to indulge my wanderlust, always present but usually dormant, to reclaim that essential part of myself that loves to travel. Sounds a bit pretentious but it’s a start. I’ll be giving more thought to this.

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9 thoughts on “Why go anywhere?

  1. Still completely envious! I’m looking forward to following the blog. As we can’t be there you’ll have to bring it to us. Enjoy.

    You’re not going mad – standards are slipping on the Today Programme.


  2. Hi Liz,
    ‘Envy’ doesn’t quite capture what I am feeling about your imminent, but here my thoughts on whether you need any ‘objectives’ for casting-off into the (relatively) unknown…The short answer is – ‘no’! One of the great things about going to unfamiliar places is precisely that – they are NOT what you are used to. Eperiences like these are very precious precisely because they will push out of your comform zone, but they will also afford you new perspectives, horizons and access to the more neglected parts of yourself – some of which you might not have even suspected of existing, until that yelp leaps out of your lungs… ‘Objectives’ tend to be very specific – what your trip will do for you is open things up and let you get much closer to the felt reality of things – because you’re leaving your habitual selves at home! I very much look forward to your blog! Be safe.

  3. You are just ahead of everyone else.

    Travel punctuates life. So just not being at work is a fair objective. Which would be more memorable: 6 months of work or 6 months of travel?

    Sense of achievement and survival (esp. in a narcocracy)

    It is a common aspiration. So like a car you can philosophically work out why you don’t need one but of course you want one like everyone else.

    Everyone should take a 6 month break. It is normal after 5 years of work in Australia.

    You will never say I wished I spent more time in the office….

  4. Why are you going? Because you can and because it’s there. Oh … and to have a bit of fun and fill your memory bank with some more wonderful experiences, emotions and pictures.

    I’m soooo envious, and will be avidly and vicariously following your progress.

    Have a fabulous time!

    Al x

  5. Pay no attention to that “ojectives for travel rubbish”. My response to that would be “Get a life”. Enjoyment has little to do with objectives. You know me and how driven I am, but not when it comes to enjoyment, then the switch is off and the craic is thing.

    Dive in the deep end.

  6. It seems to me, after reading these posts, that you have a bunch of friends who understand the wanderlust side of things. Step out of the goal driven environment and spend some time in the process…. experience, live, love, eat, drink, ponder, touch, see, smell, and please please report back so we can share.
    Have a fabulous journey, I look forward to catching snippets on here.
    Bon voyage

  7. You soooooooo do not need to have an objective other than to enjoy yourself and stay safe. For me objectives are for work and lucky you are going to leave that behind for 6 months.

    Enjoy and savour every moment, keep us poor ‘workers’ up to date on all the great (and maybe the not so great moments, hopefully few and far between), exciting and funny moments so that we have something to brighten up our winter days in ol’ blighty!!

    Have a fabulous time. You really deserve it.


  8. Liz, you have been reading too many of the books you publish. Objectives are there to give planning consultants something to talk about.

    Best wishes

  9. I got stumped by that question (“why are you here?”) this week too. I deferred to Edmund Hillary-esque answers – “because I can be” and “why not?”. I’m all for limited objectives, simply so that you can fulfill the objective of not being too limited in what you will experience. Or does that sond topsy-turvy?!?

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