Why do we travel?

A dear friend of mine once asked me this seemingly simple unarticulated question when I went to visit his place. Being a seasoned traveller, I felt myself responsible to answer him in the most imaginative and remarkable manner possible. I also thought that maybe because of what I would say, he or the other people who were keeping a keen ear to the conversation would be steered towards travelling.

At the outset, I thought it to be a really easy question, even though I had never really asked myself the same before. I was all set to amaze everyone, querying my mind to whizz through the innumerous travel blogs, books, magazine articles and quotes of famous travellers that I have read over the course of my tiny insignificant life. But all that I was able to come up was utter nonsense from my perspective. It went on something like, ‘We travel because we get tired of our place of residence, we want to see places, get a fresh perspective.  Or sometimes simply take a break’.

I said it was nonsense because, what I said did not come from my heart. As I had begun to go places, travelling had become a passion for me. I had inadvertently started to set milestones within each trip I used to make. Some short and easy and some I hope to complete in this lifetime. But even so I was yet to find a reason why I used to travel and love while doing so?

All these answers came to me suddenly while I was travelling on an uncomfortable stretch of road through the Deccan Plateau. I had spent the last 24 hours being pushed, shoved, shouted at and trampled on while commuting on the local buses of Central India. I hardly expected some sort of epiphany to dawn upon me under such circumstances. But as the wise say, we are pushed past the limits of our comfort zones, then only we start to learn and succeed.

I realized then, that travelling might be as simple as getting out without any plans or without any money in your pockets with just the road ahead or maybe as difficult as to plan transit journeys using the great Indian railways. It may mean being a part of the culture where you are visiting or savoring the delicacies of the state. But most importantly it is about learning subtle things which can make our and the lives of others so much better.

It is about opening one’s mind to new ideas, new beliefs and new solutions. It is the chance for us to learn to be more accommodating, of compromising and of sharing. Most of all it is to let go of our in bred fear of attachments, of losing things, comfort and the people we love all the while respecting the relations which bind us to them, understanding that they are unique, special and responsible for who and what we are.

Maybe some of us believe travelling to be an escape route, to let go of something and to start anew, but it never is. It allows one’s mind to become free, to feel free and happy momentarily, and just when you think that you are enjoying where you are, it will come back at you many times over. But then you are transformed too, because you have learnt new things, you are ready to get back into the real world and face what you were trying to escape from. It all becomes easier as you start to understand that maybe your life was not that hard compared to that poor fellow you saw the other day in that deserted town. Or maybe you would start putting that extra bit of effort to shine a little bit of happiness in the hearts of those whom you meet.

I believe everyday that I go out to see the world, I learn how to live my life a little bit differently, definitely not always better but it’s always something new. This would be my answer now if someone asks me as to why I travel and why I yearn to see the world.


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