Prone to Wander

Surely This Isn’t Another “Why I Love Traveling” Blog Post…

IMG_7105You bet it is. Well, more specifically, I thought I’d give you all some insight into how/why I choose most of the topics on this blog. I have quite a few untold stories from past adventures rattling around in my head, and for me the fun part of writing is deciding which ones are entertaining or interesting enough to be told. But if I ever feel like I am forcing a story, I’ll leave it for another day.

I’ve been sharing much older travel stories recently, as some of you have astutely pointed out. However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it just means that those stories have gotten to marinate in my mind for a bit longer, and if they’re interesting or funny, they need to be told! And just between you, me, and the blog, the older stories are probably more exciting than the newer ones anyway. The reason for this phenomenon can actually be proven scientifically with this simple equation:

Number of Years Since Experience x Number of Times Story is Told = Number of Exciting Embellishments

And just in case you need more proof, this scientific theory has already been tested with grandfathers the world over. But anyway, as you probably guessed all I’m doing here is setting myself up for inundating you with more blog posts containing random, older (but hopefully very entertaining) travel stories.

An author that has really inspired my recent writing style and feeling of “ok-ness” with bringing out obscure and funny travel stories from the past is Bill Bryson. I’m a recent Bryson convert, so I haven’t read everything he’s written (yet), but in the last few months I’ve chuckled my way through In a Sunburned Country (about Australia), Notes from a Small Island (about the UK), and Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe.

Bryson never fails to gracefully walk the fine line of poking fun at people and places in a truly hilarious way while at the same time cultivating a profound sense of respect for the culture and place that he’s writing about. Seriously, these books are so funny that they deserve a disclaimer: I don’t recommend reading them in places like airplanes. You’ll get dirty looks when you wake up your seatmate when you burst out laughing spontaneously. (Been there, done that!)

His books are definitely not travel guides in any stretch, and he never offers advice about “What to do in Sydney,” for example. He travels simply for travel’s sake. But as he writes about wandering around, usually off the beaten path, he expertly weaves in bits of history and fact, giving him the ability to offer up unique, insightful and often funny observations about the culture. He has a healthy curiosity and boldness: his specialty is in uncovering and exposing the quirky, interesting bits about a place.

And I think that is absolutely how travel should be. Go without any ulterior motive. Travel just to travel. See a couple of the things you are “supposed” to see, but spend most of your time wandering, observing, and being curious. Turn over rocks (literally and figuratively). Travel alone at least once in your life. You’ll be surprised by the amazing things that you’ll suddenly have the clarity to see… and they aren’t usually places. You’ll have enough interesting stories to tell and retell for years. Well, at least until the embellishment ratio starts to get the better of you.

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