What makes travel interesting is complex and personal, and often unrelated to the destination. Travel is not about seeing the tallest this or the longest that (if this is your objective, just go to Dubai and wait). Trite as it is, travel really should be about shared experiences and broadening the mind. Sometimes, in the harshest of ways.
This column is nothing more that a series of personal reflections from someone who travels a lot. Even writing that last sentence makes me hate myself for contributing to the huge-mountain of solipsistic nonsense that comprises much of the Internet, but Mar can be very persuasive.
For the purpose of managing reader expectations, these reflections are not those of a twenty year old pretending to find himself in a chicken bus in Bolivia. Nor are they of a bored trophy wife jumping from spa to spa. Rather, they are of a regular business traveler who happens to have a job that facilitates constant and permanent global travel, often to places most people will never set foot on, and of someone who likes to travel a lot. You’ll find me in economy as often as in first, in a Holiday Inn as often as an Oberoi and drinking pints in London as often as Mai Tai’s in the Maldives. You will also find me, regularly, standing at some immigration queue in an undepictable country.
So why do I characterize myself, and this column, as the perpetual tourist? First, I should give it proper attribution: it is one version of a method for tax avoidance which I discovered on Wikipedia. Whilst this has some direct relevance for me, which I’ll expand on at some later point, the expression seemed to neatly sum up my current position in life, both in the sense that most weeks I sleep in at least one of 3 countries all of which I regard as homes – in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in case you’re interested, but also in the broader sense that I like to think that I maintain a visitor’s curiosity in the people and world around me. I am an avid observer, a lover of all things anthropological and someone who spends more time than he will ever want to admit on Wikipedia.
One of the hidden benefits of regular travel is that it affords lots of small moments that are ideal for a bit of reflection – immigration queues, waiting on runways for take-off, layovers in airport lounges, hours in taxis stuck in traffic, etc. It is in these moments that this column is founded, and consequently I predict it will be meandering in nature and devoid of unifying theme. It is also likely to include the reflections from someone who is exposed, on a daily basis, to cultural shocks and who has even stopped being surprised by them.
Come with me as I reflect on topics such as the art of queuing, the difficulties of going to rarely visited countries, comically bizarre visa policies, the problems of not remembering where you have been this week or the many funny situations I find myself into on a daily basis. I hope that this column will provide insights into the life of someone who is always on the road, often times not as a mere tourist or observer, despite the heading. And if you have similar situations or also vastly different, please leave a comment, we will wander the space together.