Travel is, in so many ways, a powerful drug. This resemblance is one that I’ve always considered, and the analogy seems to hold true with respect to most of travel’s traits, except perhaps for the fact that you can’t physically sniff travel through a crisp fifty after crushing it with a credit card. People who have never travelled will never properly understand the concept and, as with drugs, tend to fall into two camps: those who can see the appeal but for whatever reason haven’t pursued it, and those who dismiss the notion as a waste of energy, time, and money. To attempt to explain it to the outsider is an exercise in futility. That’s not to say that it’s some exclusive club, but rather something that people should experience for themselves in order to draw their own conclusions with as few preconceptions as is possible. Those fortunate enough to be acquainted with travel typically regard it as a positive, life-changing experience. Of course, like the unfortunate psychonaut who is unjustifiably sold PMA in place of MDMA from some sub-par Silk Road vendor, there’s always the occasional backpacker who contracts dengue fever or ends up having to bribe their way out of a situation in which they’ve done nothing wrong, but on the whole it’s the sort of experience that enriches you and your perceptions. There’s that element of excitement and danger as you plunge into the unknown, providing you’re willing to tread at least a little off the well-beaten Banana Pancake Trail. The rush that punches you in the face when you touchdown, with a ridiculous number of days and miles ahead of you, is very much a physical sensation, a sort of coming-up. There’s the strange adjustment period as you struggle to adapt to a completely alien milieu, before you relax into what you’re doing and enjoy the ride, talking to strangers and taking part in activities you’d probably never consider doing back home. And the yearning and nostalgia that kick in when it’s all over too soon make you impulsively hunt for your next hit. It’s also a pretty expensive habit, but one that you can justify the costs for on the basis that it’s too much fun, and something you probably won’t be able to do once you’re all grown up and in the real world. Unless you’re a part of that rare breed who wants to maintain the habit well into adulthood and retirement. Travel brings together people from all walks, and provides the opportunity for them to go a little bit crazy and generate some stories that probably won’t ever be told to the grandkids. It’s something that everyone should experience – before diving soul-first into the nearest hedge fund or strategy boutique – and something that offers at least some solace in what are otherwise, sadly, pretty dark times.
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