Simply the thought of travel is emotive for me. Just sitting here, typing away at my laptop I’m filled with a sense of something.
I’m not sure I have a word for it though- it is simply what I’ve come to see as the travel feeling. I'll try to explain.
Rather than one particular thing, I think the travel feeling is an overarching concept that sits, like an umbrella, above all individual travel experience.
I try to define it but nothing quite does it justice.
Ever tried holding onto a wet fish? Just when you think you have it, it somehow slips out of your grasp. Strange analogy, but that’s how summing up the travel feeling feels.
One thing I’d say is that everything is magnified with travel.
Something about it paints experience in a slightly different hue- like the golden light at dawn and dusk, there’s something inherently special about it that’s hard to articulate. Really, travel evokes a huge number of emotions at any given point in time.
Whether it is excitement, happiness, contentment, fearfulness, nervousness, anxiety, joy, carefree(-ness?), sombreness, loneliness or light-heartedness, it is likely that you’ll go through the whole works while you’re travelling- just by the nature of what you’re doing.
It is hard to pin down.
I actually draw a distinction between how travel makes me feel and what I see as the travel feeling.
There are three stages to any trip: before, during and after. In this way, the thought of travel, the process of travel and the memory of travel all evoke different feelings.
Moreover, these feelings will vary depending on your level of travel experience- for someone who has never been before the thought of travel and associated feelings will be especially different to someone with years of experience under their belt.
And, as the actual experience of travel varies between people, so will the feelings.
There are shared qualities, sure (talk to ten people who have been travelling and alongside the descriptions of stunning locations, amazing tales and how they changed, many of the same emotions will come up), but no two people or experiences are the same, so the particular emotions vary.
This is where the distinction comes in: to my mind, all of the nuanced feelings evoked from travel are linked intrinsically by the travel feeling- remember the umbrella analogy I talked about earlier?
Regardless of time, place, person, experience, stories, struggles or successes, the travel feeling covers and links everything together.
Ever tried to describe why you find something beautiful? It is harder than it sounds.
With travel, expectation meets uncertainty; hope meets fear; gratitude meets wonder. What else? I don’t know. Maybe it is simply the feeling of liberation- when I go travelling I do sort of feel like William Wallace in the final scene of Braveheart (“Freeedooooommmmm”).
The process involved somehow ruptures the safety net that contains all that you know of yourself and of the world. As the contents spill, it evaporates and into the vacuum that remains rushes a tide of...something.
You know when really annoying people describe something and say, ‘it won’t make sense/you could never understand- you weren’t there’. I feel like one of those people right now.
For me, the travel feeling- the true travel feeling, defies the limitations of vocabulary.
It is the unspoken bond that connects travellers and separates them upon their return from friends and family members who haven’t travelled.
The travel feeling is an atmosphere, an air- a lifestyle. It is a deep-rooted and visceral response to transformative experience.
Simply, like a memory-laden scar, travel leaves its mark on everyone it touches.