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Bucket lists, adventure and exploration, so much to unpack.
Two sources of exotic travel images have come my way recently: one overlanding blogger traveling the Canning Stock Route, in Australia. And a close friend’s images from Namibia. Years ago, I’d have given a lot to be there, in those two bucket list locations, photographing them for myself. Now, watching from afar is just as pleasant, though only one of the two actually feels right to me.
It’s hard to explain why without sounding old and judgmental. But here’s the gist of it.
Bucket lists are just plain wrong. They never pan out for anyone, being based on photographs and recollections of events that will never happen exactly the same way for you. You might end up happier than expected at a specific location, and very disappointed at another. But, mostly, is it really worth traveling days in a plane, then in a boat, then in coaches, then in queues to grab that photograph of the blue dome over the blue sea when, all around you is just one huge crowd of tourists swarming to grab the exact same shot, that you can find in thousands of copies online? Is there no better use of our limited and precious vacation time than to rush to places that are no better than others nearby, only more famous?
To be continued below …
… discussion continued from the top
Bucket lists encourage us to lie to ourselves and to others, because their very existence hinges on the predictability and repeatability of experience that travel specialists bend over backwards to ensure, but either fail to, or achieve at the expense of all sense of adventure or accomplishment. When I crave that sort of experience, I go to Disneyland Paris (I do, and I love every minute! 🙂 )
Adventure recognises the unpredictability of travel in the real world, and in other activities. You start a hike with a specific peak view or other goal in mind, but end up falling in love with this little lake instead. Fallen rocks have made the trail unpassable, but the other one pushes you to your vertigo limits, from which you emerge feeling victorious and proud. Maybe you hurt your knee the day before the hike, and stay in the village instead, savouring an incredible coffee from the corner cafe you’ll remember all your life and you great-grand children will return to as a family pilgrimage much later. All that is so much more meaningful and lasting.
Adventure not only acknowledges the unpredictability of travel, but thrills you and excites you for it. By following bucket lists, often created by others, we leave ourselves little room for serendipity and a lot of room for disappointment. Adventure, however, opens us up to more opportunities.
But adventure is about the person experiencing it. There is little in it for others.
The type of travel I find most interesting is exploration. That is, traveling to less frequented areas and reporting to others about them. The two elements are essential. Some guys skied to the pole for their own gratification (adventure) or their king’s (and often lost their lives for it). Others explored the pole to bring back information and images for those who can’t visit themselves, for science, for the arts, litterature, and the world’s imagination.
That’s the main difference between my friend’s experience, flying choppers over the Namid at sunrise, riding huge 4x4s on dunes, walking up to big rhinos, and the youtuber visiting a track that’s not been used since the covid breakout, repairing wells along the way, and documenting the trip for those who can’t be there. My friend’s very dear to me, and I’m not criticising. But I can’t help feeling that, given today’s limited space for environmental resource consumption, travel seems a whole lot better when it serves a purpose for more than the traveler alone. Someone like Dallas Thomas, for example, will visit tranquil Normandy, after a one hour train ride from his home, or will sail to very very remote antarctic islands in rough seas, and always shares the photographs and details with us. This means one trip enlightens hunders of readers. At a less lofty level, that’s what I tried to do with the Jersey post and photographs. And from today onwards, I want to explore more and adventure less 🙂
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