Travel is addicting.
Not that every aspect of travel is addicting, especially airline travel. If you are like me, you might feel ill when there is turbulence, despise the salty food and stale air, and the overall patience that travel requires is certainly not something most people revel in.
However, like an extreme sport, travel can provide an adrenaline rush, and of course people can be addicted to adrenaline. Constantly seeing new things and finding yourself in situations that you otherwise would not have experienced can be scary but undoubtedly can bring about some serious rushes.
I love taking pictures of new places, enjoy meeting new people, and as scary as waking up in a new place every night (or every few nights) might be – just as I have been doing over the past few weeks in Canada – it certainly staves off boredom.
Travel is also something you could get used to. I suppose people who travel on business might simply get used to waking up every night in a new hotel and standing in airport security lines can become a routine thing, just a part of the weekly commute.
In my case, I arrived back in Chile a few days ago. I was traveling on my own, and was shocked at how natural it was to arrive in an airport in a different country and culture. I suppose Chilean environments and the Spanish language are simply not that “different” to me any more. I knew exactly how to make my way through the airport, get my luggage, clear customs and check back in before making my way to the domestic departures area. I naturally transitioned to Spanish and didn’t (well, couldn’t) speak a word of English upon arrival, even after a 10 hour flight and a sleepless night.
The smells and the spaces that had once seemed so “exotic” upon arrival were simply… not anymore. The only thing that still stimulated me was the view of the sunrise in the morning from the plane. Sunrises here in South America are so different from those in North America – at least in my experience – they are stunningly bright and hot, and produce the most amazing red, orange and purples in the sky. But even that, to me, had become a familiar and welcome sight, not a new and captivating experience.
I believe someone who is addicted to travel would take my arrival experience as a cue to move on. Leave Chile, seek newer pastures to start all over again and experience the euphoria of discovering a new place again. To pursue that “travel adrenaline rush” that I clearly had no longer experienced upon arrival this time.
While I was staying at a university residence prior to traveling back to Chile, many of my peers were impressed by how I’d decorated my room. It actually only takes me about 5 minutes to tape up photos and postcards, set up books, rearrange furniture to be a bit more “feng shui” so that I can feel more comfortable in whatever surroundings I find myself in. For travels longer than a few days, I travel with small, postcard-sized artwork and pictures I like, my trusty Bodum French press (almost nothing else makes me feel at home like French pressed coffee in the morning) and other homey objects so that I can carve out comfortable places to work and sleep, wherever I find myself.
Like the physical objects that help make me feel at home in new spaces, I carry a database of knowledge in my mind of cultural, language and behaviours that help me “feel at home” in new places. I learn the language, grow accustomed to the airports, mimic the behaviours and customs so that I can generally try to blend in and feel comfortable wherever I find myself. I am eager to feel like I could belong (even if, when you get right down to it, I probably cannot, simply for cultural reasons – but that’s another blog post for another time -) anywhere.
I don’t know if I am addicted to travel. Maybe, maybe not. There are certainly some mechanical aspects of travel that I do not relish. I do, however, think I am addicted to being home. That is, making myself at home wherever necessary in the world.