The Delights and Disappointments of Travel

The expectation and experience of travel are a mixture of delight and disappointment. For the dedicated traveller the first is remembered, the latter forgotten.

Mad men rule

The marketing promise of travelling to a faraway place fills us with the excitement of childhood. Visiting new places and experiencing different customs and traditions introduces us to the thrill of the unknown.

Travel brochures create magic and have the power to transform even the most sensible person into a romantic nomad with the flick of a glossy landscaped page. The promise of beautiful skies and soaring temperatures convert even the most hardened home bird into a dreamer of distant climes. The lure of images so attractive, yet removed, from our everyday surroundings tempts us beyond opposition.

Somewhere in our evolutionary past our primitive brain merged the idea of travel and happiness and so the draw of another place is scarcely resistible. Enhanced and airbrushed pictures of sun soaked beaches banish caution, as flawless pictures persuade the mind to abandon the familiar.

Once a destination is decided upon the conversation turns to the practicalities of what to bring and where to go on arrival, as visiting a single idyllic haven is only a starting point for today’s thrill seeker. Planning for the trip usefully ignores the frustration of airport delays, disruptions, flight cancellations, lost bags, or other potential mishaps.

Reality bites

Anxiety about the journey, concern about the location, or fear of a too hot sun are seen as immaterial when compared with the novelty of being a stranger in a strange land. The experienced traveller embraces any difficulties and wallows in the primitive pleasure of new adventures, good and bad.

On arrival, experience and expectation clash when what is on offer is compared with what was promised all those months ago. Doubts pepper early conversations as every aspect of the location is compared and contrasted. Positive features are discussed to allay doubts, as curiosity about the new setting captures the attention.

Remembering that the ability to enjoy any new place comes as much from within as without serves as a prompt to rest and relax and enjoy. To enrich the experience, reflecting on why we travel is useful but rarely considered in advance and usually neglected on return.

The traveller’s perfect state of mind however is one of wonder and wonderment at everything encountered along the way. The true gift of the traveller is to enjoy the experience rather than focus on trying to find the perfect place.

So, travel is often a mixture of fun and frustration but the balance is swayed in our favour when we set out in a positive frame of mind.