What Makes Travel Worthwhile Is Its Adversity
“Travel without misadventure is no adventure at all and hardly counts as travel.” –Hippokrites
The Holiday Inn used to have an ad that promised “No surprises!” Well then why travel? We travel to get away from the ordinary. It’s about surprises. If you want to bed down in a place identical to the motel in your hometown and dine on the same food you can get at your local restaurant, do so—but then why spend your hard-earned money to travel?
When we recount our travels, we inevitably talk about the surprises, many of them about the travails of travels. It might be the wax paper that passes for toilet paper in England, the restrooms for which you had to drink heavily beforehand (or had a really pressing need) before you dared to enter them, the trains in Eastern Europe where announcements of stations were made though a crackling PA system in a language you didn’t understand, the despair of finding yourself without accommodation for the night, the gypsy beggar kids who licked their hands and then rubbed them on you to curse you for your lack of charity, the many eccentrics that try to befriend you and spill their tales of woe, the petty thief who picked your pocket (or broke into your hotel room or rented car) and made off with your passport and money, or any of many other misadventures the traveller really should not consider a surprise. C’mon, isn’t that what we often talk about when we recount our trips? And isn’t that the sort of material out of which writers craft their travel books? Who would read a book that about canoeing from Canada to the Amazon basin or biking around the world that recounted how uneventful and easy it was?