Traveler with a capital T (and one L)

Posted on 30 January 2012

Planning to travel the world takes… you guessed it – a lot of planning. There are hundreds of blogs and websites of Travelers and adventures available as a resource. The advice they offer is first hand and mostly reliable and this is a fantastic resource.

Each Traveler chooses a mode of travel which suits their needs and means specifically. You get the budget Travelers who sleep anywhere, eat whatever is available and are the proverbial salt of the earth. They tend to travel by bus, foot, train, bicycle – whatever the locals use to get around. At the other end of the spectrum you have the retired couple (not always retirement age) who enjoy the finer things in life and who travel in their custom built 4×4 truck with aircon, flat screen TV, surround sound, golf clubs, full kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and all the mod cons. Some Travelers try to pay for their travels through working where possible or running a blog with advertisers and sponsorship deals etc, while others, like our retired couple, have done their work, reaped the rewards and are financially self sufficient.

We tend to be closer to the salt-of-the-earth-type Traveler and Luisa and I would happily backpack for years. We did it in our youth though, admittedly, Luisa went further and saw more while I was less disciplined and lived in the moment. Now that we are parents to two beautiful children we have to travel responsibly, as a family. Children need warmth, comfort, education, regular nutritional meals, stability and security. And lots of love. So we fall in the middle of the Traveler spectrum. We are not independently wealthy and do not have the funds for top of the range travel. We do have our fully equipped, fully paid for Land Rover, no debt and a little nest egg. Most importantly we have our health, our dreams, courage, wanderlust and lots of love.

Personally I prefer roughing it (camping, making my own meals, shopping in the local markets, drinking the local beer) to five star accommodation. On a recent overland trip to Tanzania we booked into a five star hotel on the island of Zanzibar. The food was great, the rooms were air conditioned, the pool was beautiful but, my God, the place was boring. And expensive! The other guests were flown in from Italy, Germany and Russia and were rather morose. Backpackers, youth hostels and overland camps almost always have an interesting and eclectic mix of guests. The pubs and dining areas are usually communal and you meet Travelers – the best kind of people, our kind of people.

Here’s my theory. Over the last few hundred thousand years humanity has evolved through travel. The continents were populated by Travelers, nomads who moved with their herds looking for better grazing, trade, were fleeing local conflicts or just wanted to know what lay behind that mountain range or across that body of water. Some of us – Travelers with a capital T – have the need to be on the road. Others in our species, the majority, have the need to settle down, put down roots and build homes. Our societies tend to be built by the latter group. Sure they do also enjoy a good holiday, a brief camping trip, maybe a tour overseas. Travelers are not on holiday. We are exploring, pushing our boundaries, learning the local customs and languages, often living hand to mouth. The explorers and nomads of yesteryear are our forefathers and it is our instinct to travel, to discover. Our children’s children will explore the universe.

Maybe this makes no sense to some but I feel it when I travel. Often the road is challenging, the heat unbearable, the food unpalatable, the beer warm. But I am happy, satisfied with an immense feeling of belonging. I am ME.


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