Today’s travel quote caught my eye as I’m coming to the end of a five week stint living out of my suitcase. I’ve worn the same jeans for a week, I’ve spent maybe a quarter of the nights in a bed (the rest were on floors and couches), and at one point I ran out of underwear and wore bikini bottoms around London. Just keeping it real. So I think I’m going to have to hand it to Paul Theroux on this one:
There are exceptions to this rule. Take for example the luxurious Silversea cruise that I took with my mom. That was pretty much glamorous the whole time, with the exception of that one point when my mother complained that Mykonos smelled like human urine. But with all due respect to cruise-fanatics and the exceptionally good time I had on that trip, I don’t think Paul Theroux was really referring to cruising. I would guess he was referring to a more long-term, independent and adventurous type of travel — perhaps what would fall under the “backpacking” umbrella today.
I think good ‘ol Paul was onto something. The moment a big backpacking trip is over for me, I start the process of smoothing out the unpleasant wrinkles in my memories — the torturous day-long bus rides sans air-conditioning or suspension, the scams that left my wallet empty and my eyes filled with tears, the shock of staring straight in the face of evils like sex tourism and environmental exploitation, the horrific illnesses that forced me to suspend every hygiene standards I’d ever held. None of that screams romantic or glamorous. And yet my mind irons out those unpleasant memories until there is nothing left but charming anecdotes, poignant lessons learned and a few humorous dinner party stories.
We tell friends about the warmth of the people and the weather, we show photos of exotic bazaars and colorful landscapes. We remember the delicious feeling of exploration, of wandering, of being an adventurer. In retrospect, travel becomes glamorous again.
Do you believe travel is most glamorous in retrospect?