“Are you going around the world just because you can?” asked Aldo our Quantas flight attendant as we set off on our 18 hour journey from Sydney back home to Bermuda.
“Um, Yes,” I said.
Although it was a question that on its face might have suggested the presumption of flimsy extravagance I sensed something more about Aldo’s curiosity. Over the entirety of his aviation career he had amassed a large and varied collection of tales detailing the different motivations his passengers had for moving from point A to point B. Each story revealing something personal about each traveler beyond their itinerary.
Aldo’s reason for travel was, of course, to earn a living.
For our cab driver in Sydney, it was to find a better life. He was Russian. Articulate, humorous and intelligent. Although it could not have been easy to start all over again, he left his own country 40 years ago and never looked back.
“Don’t you miss it,”I asked.
“Everything’s changed,” he said shaking his head and communicating that the reasons he left still existed in one way or another.
Both Australia and New Zealand are flooded with visitors from all over the world excited about traveling halfway around the planet to find adventure, work and, if the stars align correctly, perhaps a little romance as well.
“ I came here (NZ) from the U.K. with my boyfriend,” said a lovely waitress in Queenstown. “It lasted 4 months. But my (new) partner now is a Kiwi so I’m staying,” she happily said.
While traveling through New Zealand I was amazed at how many “foreigners” were visiting this scenic and friendly nation. Camper vans were more plentiful than limousines but both groups were drawn here for the same reasons and were enjoying exactly the same views. Only their transport differed.
There were as many “old” folks as young ones and it was inspiring to see them with their hiking kits on and their youthful enthusiasm on full display.
“Are you enjoying New Zealand,” an older, statuesque and handsome South African woman warmly inquired at breakfast on the water one morning.
“Oh yes,” I said “and you?”
“ I married an Australian,” she said smiling “so we come here a lot.”
She had to be near 80 but was game on for adventure. Curious too. Being interested keeps you interesting I think.
At a local winery I admired the friendly nature and impressive camera of a woman who I learned was from Connecticut.
“We travel everywhere we can just taking pictures,” she told me. I asked to see some of them. They were beautiful.
She didn’t mention if she was staying in a lovely lodge or a campsite. She did not rave about the food, which was good everywhere. She did fancy a nice glass of wine I noticed which seemed to be universal with travelers here. She was keen for her camera and talked excitedly about the images she and her husband had already captured and would catch in the future on camera.
“Is this your job?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said. “We just love photography.”
Imagine doing something, anything, for the sheer joy of it. That’s possible at any age. And at any time. And for no other reason than, Yeah, you can.
The Roman philosopher Seneca said “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”
For us going around the world seemed an exciting once in a lifetime travel experience that, unlike a trek to the summit of Everest, comfortably suited our fitness level and curious nature. But like climbing Everest or playing the top 100 golf courses in the world or running a marathon it felt like an achievement. A challenging enjoyable process with heaps of rewards upon its completion.
I actually found an organization dedicated to those who have done the same thing and best expressed the reason travelers travel.
It’s called the Circumnavigation Club which describes its membership this way.
“All of the Club’s worldwide members have a unique story to tell about how they circumnavigated the globe – by balloon, space ship, sailboat, cruise ship, motorcycle, bicycle, private and commercial planes and on foot. All of our members view travel as a way to inform themselves, to learn about social issues and to have a good bit of fun in the process.”