‘Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.’ -Pico Iyer
Travel stories – You will always remember it. That first taste of independence, that first glimpse of a foreign land, that first sudden realization of yourself being foreign. It threatens to shake your world, to question everything you hold dear, to make your everyday feel utterly bland. There is a grandeur to travel, a larger-than-life quality that subsumes the nitty-gritties, the logistics, the annoyances. Travel, when it is for travel’s sake, always leaves you with a story to tell. It may be the same place a million have been before, and it may be one that you have been to a million times already, but every story is the unique culmination of you, in that place, at that time. It is an experience that you cannot repeat completely however hard you try. And it is this precise quality – this certain elusiveness – that gives travel an air of romance, of flirtation, of love.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, we thought we would go back to the attic and fish out travel stories that have moved us to tears, made us laugh, and – almost always – rekindled our love for life and travel. Here’s a small selection (to keep you coming back for more):
Five years ago, when Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna flew to Tahiti to start a year-long sabbatical, they had been dating for barely a year after they had met online, and weren’t completely sure how this would pan out. They went on to get engaged (under water!) and married, and now continue to do what drew them to each other in the first place: travel. This particular trip is a snippet from their current journey around Southeast Asia which started in 2012. Bali already conjures up images of honeymoon couples, but from the perspective of two seasoned campers very much in love – with each other and the country – it is particularly lyrical.
What is love without a little quirk? This irreverent, slightly kooky, utterly hilarious account of sommelier Magandeep Singh‘s jaunts through Italy always has us in splits. Chock full of random observations that’ll articulate what you have always wondered (but never penned, in fear of ridicule), this one is the certified class clown. Best of luck resisting it’s charm.
Hitchhiking, in many ways, is like that exercise they make you do in various team-building workshops. The one where you let yourself fall, and have to completely trust the other to hold you. It’s what most relationships start with: a willingness to make yourself vulnerable to hurt for a grander, more elevated experience. In this particular case, Josh Cahill makes his way across war-torn Iran, discovering a landscape and a people that defy every stereotype that has been imposed on them. Challenge your perceptions as well through this roller-coaster account.
Falling in love with another can be easier than falling in love with oneself. Matthew Crompton, freshly dumped by his then girlfriend and feeling pangs of revenge, bought a one-way ticket to Guatemala in a flaming decision to start living well. After landing there, however, he realized it was harder than it sounded. Read his heart-achingly honest account of what it feels like to be completely lost, and then to somehow find yourself in the debris of self-deprecation and insecurity. Learning to travel can be a process of learning to love. Yourself. Again.
Travel, much like love, is as much about perseverance as about spontaneity, as much about doggedness as about whimsy. In this rare glimpse into the story behind a brilliant picture, Dhritiman Mukherjee leads you through the stripped-down, non-glamorous long waits, harsh climates and repeated disappointments that underlie the glamorous facade of being a wildlife photographer. In his chase around the Indian Himalayas for a glimpse of the hitherto un-photographed Western Tragopan, it is difficult not to find traces of a maddening obsession. If that is not love, we wouldn’t know what is.
A large part of the romance of travel is the accompanying idea of solitude, of being surrounded by the alien, of being alien. It inspires a pushing of the envelope, something that – for the artist – is quite indispensable. Sanjay Bhattacharya, painter and traveler, writes of one such escape into the desert for a reprieve of the creative soul, and of finding a little spot to call his own in the wide expanse of sand dunes. Your memories of the expeditions make your travel stories special.
As much as it is about solitude, travel is about the exotic. About being flung to the ends of the earth. What more romance, then, than the actual end of the Earth as we know it? Michael Pargal‘s poetic account of the journey to the continent down under almost makes you feel the ocean breeze on your face as you look towards a limitless horizon. And makes you fish for the nearest piggy bank to start saving up for one of your own.
Travel, oftentimes, is more like a scrapbook than a mosaic. The pieces don’t fit perfectly, there are plenty of overlaps, and plenty of gaps. And it is this that makes it truly memorable. This account of The Hot Toddies as they journey across the mesmerizing landscape of India defies a one-size-fits-all adjective. It is as spiritual as it is scandalous, as frustrating as it is calming, as hurried as it is leisurely. It is truly a love affair with a land, and you have to read it to understand.
For more inspirational travel itineraries and travel stories, visit us at Tripoto