Extreme Travel: Traveling Trouble-Free Is Boring
interesting travel stories come from unlooked for trouble, such as almost freezing to death in the Transylvanian Mountains, not an uneventful trip to the beach.
Have you ever gone on a trip in an effort to free yourself from the stress and predictability of your everyday life? What happens when you return home to that life? Often times others wish to hear of your "adventures" and ask if you have been changed or have grown as a person as a result of them.
What is your response? Do you tell them about the hours you sat on a beach, drifting in and out of sleep? Or perhaps tell them about the time you spent sitting in a comfortable hotel room watching television or reading a book? No, because these are mundane activities that tend to fall into a haze of pleasant forgetfulness.
So what travel stories do people remember, want to tell, and want to hear? Travel stories of trials, tribulations and the overcoming of unexpected obstacles, problems and troubles. People want to hear of drama. Drama is exciting and the exciting is interesting. Interesting things and events during trips remain in the memory with a clarity never found in the mundane. People enjoy stories of hardship and trouble during travel.
One might ask what constitutes trouble during travel? It could be anything unlooked for. Anything that one had not planned on dealing with, and would choose to avoid if given the choice. For example, for my second trip to Europe I had decided to lease a car with some friends and so save money by driving through Europe. We had thought that driving would be virtually non-problematic and give us a freedom from the limitations, scheduling and high costs of train travel. Never, never, think that some new way to save money will also reduce the problems found with travel.
During our journey via auto we found ourselves driving through the Carpathian Mountains of the Transylvanian region of Romania late one night. We were all awake, but quite cold and tired. It was the middle of summer, but the mountains are still cold. Allow me to reiterate that point: mountains equal cold; all of the time. Unexpected and unforseen problem number two hundred and six for that day. We realized that we were all far too tired to continue on through the night and fog on that small montain road and so pulled over into a rest area along the mountain side.
The night was beautiful; fog filled the valley below us while the stars shown down on us through a clear sky. The occasional howl of a wolf would greet us from one direction, a howl of response from another. I remember the entire night vividly; pacing about, unable to sleep due to the biting cold, wearing almost every item of clothing I had brought in a vain effort to remain warm. Why not just sit in the car, heater blasting? Our fuel supply was low, so keeping the engine running all night was out, and none of us were willing to find out if our car's battery could make it through the night running the heater, and still start in the morning. Let me tell you though, seeing that Transylvanian valley grow brighter as the dawn slowly crept into it was enough to make the entire unscheduled event worth it. Miles of rich fields, haystacks and all, rolling down into the valley below us the fog slowly dispersing before the coming dawn was, and still is, one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever witnessed.
How could a warm, comfortable night in a hostel or hotel ever compare with the event that I was a part of that night? Would I have gone through it given a choice in advance? No. What fun does staying up all night long, freezing to death while listening to the howling of wolves seem like? As I had no choice but to deal with it, however, I was given a wonderful, albeit uncomfortable, experience, and was made a slightly better person for it.
Problems occur during any trip, and travel courts the unforseen, but too many people either avoid travel for these very reasons or do everything in their power to eliminate as many travel variables as possible. My advice? Just choose where you want to go, bring as little as possible, remain alert, and let yourself grow as the world unfolds beneath you, problems and all. Troubles arise, but often times they bring with them unforseen beauty as well as memoties that are worth far more than countless years lying on a beach.