Archive for July, 2011

July 23, 2011

The One-Way Ticket – I Dare You

by Ashe Vagabond of the Vagabond Express

Hey, so travelers, there’s a subject I’d like to cover.

You’re heading out the door, bags in tow. You’ve got a flight to somewhere new, exciting, grand, maybe exotic or maybe just cool.

Passport? Check.

Money? Check.

Travel insurance? Probably a check.

Hotel reservations? Check.

Phrasal handbook of the local language? Check.

Return airfare? Return airfare….wait….return airfare?

Here’s the moment where we all diverge into certain experiences, and hence categories. Normally when one thinks of going where man hasn’t gone before, or at least leaving the comfort zone of home to explore a new set of customs and heritage, they anticipate such a thing within the mental constructs and expectations of a round-trip ticket. Yeah. So you’re heading off to Tahiti, but you’re coming back. Even if you do a study abroad program in Paris for a year, you’re coming back. So what about those maniac travelers who live life in one direction, in a series of one-way tickets?

I can think of only three ways to comprehend these folk, and I am one of them. We are either:

      1. Totally insane
      2. Way too easily bored
      3. The bravest folk on Earth

1. Totally Insane

To be honest, and this is based on my experiences with other expats, I think it’s a little of each. Most of us are, for lack of a better word, totally insane. We’re eccentric nut jobs who carry the customs, language, nuances, and traditions of such a compilation of countries that we are, for all intensive purposes, effectively schizophrenic when it comes to our personal culture and values – the ones we carry on our insides. We’ve seen so many darn ways to doing something that we end up keeping the ways we like and canning the ones we don’t. For example, if you saw my morning breakfast routine, it looks a bit like a Turkish, French, and German cook got into a fight in the kitchen and then had to compromise by allowing each to dominate 1/3 of my plate. Oh, and don’t forget my very American essential coffee. And if that’s my breakfast plate, let’s not even get started with my mental process. For those of us who have taken the one-way dive in countries as diverse as Asia and then to Europe and then off to South America, may Odin have mercy on your culturally schizophrenic soul!

2. Way Too Easily Bored

About the boredom, yeah this goes without saying. Most people in my native land are ADHD when it comes to television programs, books, magazines, and the internet. The attention span of most Americans is about that of a “New York minute” and they need to buy new crap faster than they can manage to fully orient with their old crap. Take this ADHD quality and suppose we one-way ticket freaks might have a bit of that too, only we don’t change the channel furiously from HBO to Animal Planet and then to the Food Network. No. We jump on a plane directly to the dramatic Mediterranean coast for some real hot-blooded drama and passion (HBO), then do a jump hop off to Africa to check out wild lions (Animal Planet), and finally run off to Afghanistan for some really exotic cuisine (Food Network). If you ever wondered whether or not boredom plays a role in this incessant globe-trotting, let me assure you: it does. We like the challenge of learning a new langauge and about new customs, which means there is nothing stimulating left for us once we’ve accomplished this.

3. The Bravest People on Earth

Next on to that bravery. Yep. What you call insane, some might call brave. And vice-versa. Do you have any idea how terrifying it is to get on a plane that is going in only one direction? Have you the slightest clue? Now, what I understand to be the “numero uno” reason that most people don’t really leave their native land is due to some combination of comfort and fear. Many times I’ve been told that I am brave, but it’s said as though I have no fear. Um, wrong. I am scared shitless usually as I approach the passport control (I always think they’re gonna reject me!). I’m scared on the plane, off the plane, meeting people, fumbling through a new language. I am afraid of getting trapped in a “weird” (foreign and therefore strange) country. I am afraid of eating something totally gross and dying from a wacky ass disease. I’m scared that some exotic bug will crawl in my window at night and bite me with a poison that no one has even seen before, that freaky bug! I wonder if certain plants are gonna give me rashes, if the water is clean, if someone staring at me is a sign that I’m about to get mugged, or if the public transportation is really safe. Man, I’m scared. The main difference between those at home who are scared and those abroad who are scared is that we did it anyways. Yeah, we faced those fears, and we face them everyday.

Why?

Because then you know what you are really made of.

If you don’t believe me, go buy a one-way ticket. I dare you.

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