On Travelling

Earlier this year, I flew to Vienna for a work trip. After staying a few days, I took a bus to Bratislava, in Slovakia, which is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Vienna. On the way there, we passed by an industrial area near Schwechat.

Located on a flat field, tubes, turbines, tanks and tall chimneys with white smoke coming out immediately stood out. I wish I had taken a photograph of it, but unfortunately, I did not. We didn’t come out of the bus and it did not occur to me to take a photo inside of it. Besides getting motion sickness, bus windows always make photos look bad.

Nonetheless, that surreal picture, now lodged in my mind, was quite memorable. It’s not everyday we pass by a place like that and wonder how big it is or how many people work there. Somehow, that industrial area felt like an exotic place1.

It has become a widely popular opinion that travelling is the absolute best thing you can do in life. Travelling is, according to blogs on the internet, profiles on social media and quotes on Brainy Quote, never a waste of time, or money. It is always pleasurable, enriching and, above all, life-changing.

What I disagree about these assumptions is that they imply that travelling is meant to have a purpose: a form of therapy, self-discovery, or it’s just meant to be productive. There’s nothing wrong with travelling with a purpose. But travelling for fun, rest, with no intent to “grow” or “learn” is just as valid.

I also don’t get the assumption that hopping on a plane and travelling as far away as you can to “discover the world” is absolutely mandatory. Naturally, it’s great to travel far and witness the difference and unfamiliarity, but that is surely not the only way.

In the modern world, booking flights on a whim and wanting to go everywhere is synonym with being adventurous, curious, vivacious—the opposite of lazy. But does one have to enjoy the frenzy of airports? The dirt of safaris or the effects of jetlag, to be considered a cultured human? Is one such a horrible creature for saying they have no interest in visiting country X, Y or Z?

The coolest thing, and the point many of us miss is, travelling is something so accessible and easy to do. You can do so in your city, your country, or your continent. You can travel on a weekend or on an afternoon and go to a street you have never been.

The best part of a trip to me though, is coming home. As the plane approaches the chaotic Lisbon airport and we fly over the Tejo river, my heart skips a beat. The sunlight is magical. The romantic monuments are still here. Everything is still annoyingly unpolished and non-methodical. Yet, despite all the things I dislike about home, I am always happy to be back.

  1. Interesting read on what an exotic place consists of in the book “How to Travel” by The School of Life ↩︎

Photo by Carlo Piro