Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why We Travel (Flashcard Version)

As co-host of the TBEX NYC event tonight, I debuted a theory: all trips can be broken down into one or more of six primary reasons why we travel. Making up, like primary colors, all blends of trips we take. A periodic table of travel elements.

Here they are, in portable flashcard version:

We travel to communicate. Uncle Sedgwick moved to Oregon? Go see him.

Like relaxing with bad TV, we sometimes travel to veg out -- on a beach, in a forest, on a mountain. To forget the muck of ennui our lives have become. Or a job. Or a relationship. Or a college football score.

We travel to 'tick off' a bucket list of dream places, experiences around the world. Like the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal or St Louis' Gateway Arch.

A natural partner in 'ticj-off' travelers is showing off. That comes when we pick up experiences solely for talking points to bore friends and family members when we get back. Eg 'Dessert? Did you just say dessert? Reminds me of the Sahara -- I went on a camel safari there in '98...'

[Note: Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods actually stole -- with permission -- this 'Show-Off' flashcard at TBEX.]

The flip-side of showing off is what we personally absorb when traveling -- when we travel to learn. Of different cultures, languages, biting habits of strange gray dogs.

But food is biggest, for many -- and often for me. I sometimes call those monuments, museums, markets and parks we visit on trips as the 'space between meals.' Often, it's the food that anchors the trip. Even when the pizza comes with ketchup applied in fat dollops.

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