The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. – GK Chesterton
By the time you are on the wrong side of your 20s (like I am), you realise that one of the best things to come out of your life is the many people you've got to know. Like the people who are now family, friends and colleagues, or even strangers you’ve had random conversations with on your way back from work. And it is from these people that I have inferred a very important fact. That every single person craves to travel a lot more than they currently do.
Everyone wants to travel
If you believe my observation to be true, you would understand when I say that I often wonder why everyone has an innate desire to travel.
When I looked around for explanations in my immediate proximity, I realised that travelling may not merely be a process of going from place A to place B. Since going to a new place usually involves getting out of your comfort zone, it just may allow people to assume new identities, albeit for a short period. This newly-assumed identity legitimately permits many to indulge in activities that they may consider unacceptable in their familiar environment.
For example, on a usual day at home, my mother would completely dismiss the idea of going to an amusement park and sitting on rides; even if she has nothing major on her agenda. But the last time I went to McLeod Ganj with her, she was the one who was excited when she spotted a local amusement park, and enjoyed the rides there a lot more than my brother and I did. It was as if she was a totally different person for the duration of the trip.
During your customary yearly trips to the Shimlas and Ootys of the world, you might have noticed that most families around you are open to new and more daring adventures only while there. The most stubborn fathers indulge in skydiving, and even grandmothers with lifelong joint pains enjoy the steep walk up to hill tops. Once I joined the dots, I realised that travelling definitely involves more than what meets the eye. It liberates people from within. Since it’s short-lived, people carry facades that let them be non-conformists – the sort of people they, themselves, would frown upon in “real life”.
Travel brings change
If you consider all the above to be a hopeless attempt at rhetoric, let me draw your attention back to the original title of this piece – why every traveller needs to be open to new experiences. The arrangements in society are such that our mundane lives hardly give us liberty to experiment with novelty. Over a period of time, human beings are vulnerable to conditioning and that ultimately becomes their fundamental nature. It’s only once they are outside that they come across valid chances to act outside of their cocoons. New experiences may be either good or bad, but they’ll definitely bring in a refreshing change in lives. And, change, my friend, is the only constant in nature. It is what helps a person mould into a wiser person for the impending life.
Travel alters life for the better
Being open to trying out new things, will hone you as a human being.
It’s only when you hike all the way to Shiva Cafe in McLeod Ganj that you realise how a cult can live up to great expectations. It’s only when you travel solo that you realise that you can subsist on your own. It’s only when you interact with the French that you fathom the painful lengths an entire country can go to in order to preserve their culture. And it’s only when you lie on the pristine sands of Arambol with just your partner that you come to see a side to them that you never thought existed.
It’s easy to be your truest self while travelling. And hence, I can’t stress enough that you hit the road with a blank slate of mind.