The Travel Obsession

My generation is obsessed with travel.

Find me one 20-something in the western world today who has not either visited multiple foreign continents, or frequently mentions their dreams of doing so and I will renounce every word in this post. (Note: I will not accept as evidence extremely odd people, such as those who were not born in the 80′s, have never been to University, or have ever been to a NASCAR event.)

So why do we love to travel? here’s one reason: Having traveled is cool. Think of the last conversation you had in which traveling experiences were discussed. Did not the person with the most exotic and eccentric stories “win” the conversation? Yes, they did.

True fact: As a long lad, I quickly learned that revealing my plebeian failure to have experienced African safaris, summers spent backpacking around Europe, and random, to-hell-with-life pilgrimages to South America, was a sure way to dry up the panties of any young lass I happened to be chatting up.

My solution to this problem, and anyone who’s ever been a young man trying to get laid knows exactly what’s coming here, was to lie. Profusely. I borrowed a sample of travel stories from my friends, putting together a sort of highlight reel to use when the subject of wanderlust inevitably came up. Suddenly I had taken a van and four friends to Argentina and back, studied in Hong Kong for a semester, and broken down in tears at the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge.

But of course there are other reasons as well, which are too obvious to cover here. I’ve always felt the itch to get out of my home and native land, for a while at least. Why haven’t I?

My justification for staying rooted has always been money. I worked nights and weekends in high school to save up for University. I worked full-time throughout most of my Bachelor’s degree to keep my debt reasonable. I got a full ride for my second degree, but still never had a chance to actually save money.

So I never went on any summer-abroad journeys of self-discovery. But now, with one year of gainful employment and spartan, minimalist living behind me, I have enough money saved to fuck off indefinitely to wherever I like. It’s a good feeling: There is literally nothing preventing me from quitting my job today and spending the next 5-10 years exploring the world.

At least, nothing that isn’t self-imposed. I know that I want to spend my young adulthood living extensively in a variety of countries and continents. But I also know myself, and I doubt that I’d be satisfied spending a decade traveling for the sake of traveling. I need a mission. I need to be hunting.

Also, I don’t want to be 35 and penniless, with nothing to show for my life but stories, photo albums and flags (though I would prefer it infinitely to waking up 35 with a house, savings, and ten years of Dilbert to reflect on).  I want the stories and experiences,  plus books written, businesses started, languages learned and new talents discovered. I don’t want to just see the world. I want to conquer it.

* * *

Yesterday, I booked flights in and out of London for a month-long trip across Western Europe. I will not be conquering the world this time, merely seeing it, and visiting a few friends whose careers and wanderlust have already brought them halfway across the world. But that’s OK. A journey of a thousand miles, blah blah blah. Plus, if I’m going to quit my job and become a rock star, I might as well use up my vacation days first.

I’ll be leaving in mid-November, so look forward to irregular posting and the possible temporary conversion of Freedom Twenty-Five to a rambling, rarely-proofread travelogue, hastily jotted off in 15-minute bursts from hostels and internet cafes.

When I return, I’ll be formally launching this blog, i.e, actually telling more people about it than a few close friends , pushing some social media marketing, and hopefully writing some guest posts on other blogs whose readers might be interested in my own.

Until then, cheers to my archive-reading future readers, and imaginary current audience.