THE immune system is a funny thing. It is constantly active without us being aware of it. It is only when a virus or bug gets a substantial foothold do we feel the side effects of an immune reaction: fatigue, achy muscles, high fever. It makes you want to curl up with a hot water bottle, under a blanket and do nothing.
There is only one bug that I know of that has completely the opposite effect… and as far as I am aware, there is no known cure.
It makes you feel a tingling in your feet. Your legs become jittery. You start to drum your fingers and tap your feet. You feel like you need to jump up and start dancing like a wild African witch doctor in a tribal ceremony. Really all you want to do is pack you bag, race to the nearest airport, train station or sea port with passport in hand, and depart on a new adventure.
What is it, you ask? It is commonly known as the travel bug.
You know you have it when you are hankering to get away from everything that is familiar and walk down that path you have never seen before, experience something you have never heard of before and meet people you would never second glance in your home town. Travel is like a book that you can’t put down.
I can’t remember when I first caught the travel bug, but the symptoms have been there forever. I get antsy and don’t like to stay in the same place for too long. Last time I did an employment check for work and I had to recall eleven known addresses in the past ten years. My CV is updated with a new position every 1 – 3 years. I like to visit new places, sample new food and meet new people.
I can remember when I started planning our first big international trip to visit a bunch of fellow Antipodeans living in London. As graduating university students living in a share house, we had very limited funds and only four weeks available for a holiday in the middle of the northern hemisphere winter. We spent almost five months planning and saving for our whirlwind trip around Europe in what turned out to be one of the coldest and snowiest winters in 100 years.
I can still recall the excitement of the first day we landed in London, weighed down by our 15-20kg backpacks and confronted by the freezing cold. We had the most amazing lightning-paced trip throughout Europe, visiting nine cities in 27 days – including a brief ski trip in Andorra, New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam and six wonderful nights in Italy. We had an incredible time and sometimes I wish I could experience it all over again.
For a travel newbie it is sometimes hard to know where to start planning. I find lots of inspiration by asking others where they have been and making sure I cover everything on my own bucket list.
I am a true believer that travel is one of the only things in the world that you can buy that makes you richer, so I value every minute of our grown-up gap year.
In the words of Susan Sontag: “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”.