I sit here today on the cusp of signing a one-year-lease on a little house in Salta. Can you imagine? One whole year living in one place? It seems almost unimaginable after more than two years of constant travel.
But wait! Does this mean I can no longer call myself a bonafide traveler? In some ways, yes. But mostly, no.
Travel isn’t about having the crazy-hard story to tell, about the time you got stuck on the bad side of town with no idea where you were after missing your boat and ended up sharing your mat with a chicken. Although those are fun stories to tell. Travel also isn’t just about seeing the wonderful sights and experiences this planet has to offer, although that’s a huge part of it. I mean, imagine if I left Iceland never having visited the Blue Lagoon spa? (Which, by the way, I suggest visiting immediately upon arriving in the country. There’s an airport bus that will take you and your luggage to the spa and then after, when you’re properly relaxed, to Reykjavik.)
Travel is something else.
There’s a certain openness of spirit common to all Travelers. Your eyes, ears and mouth open wide to even the most mundane of daily events, and each sense welcomes the new without judgment or expectation. It is, dare-I-say-it, exactly how a child sees the world.
Travel is about adapting to the new and allowing experience to wash over you without judgment. It’s about rolling with the punches and not rolling your eyes.
And it is each person’s choice to see the world as a Traveler or not, just as happiness is so often a choice. Living in one place with one job and one weekly schedule, it’s easy to believe the restlessness or even unhappiness you feel comes from routine, but it’s just as easy to recreate your routine on the road. Because no matter how little luggage you may bring along, you always bring yourself.
Of course, it’s much easier to see the world anew when, in fact, everything you’re seeing is actually new. Still, the challenge, at base, is to view each day, each event and each moment with fresh eyes.
So year-long-lease or two nights in a hut on some island, I will always strive to be a Traveler.
Originally published on LeighShulman.com on March 30, 2009.