As a devoted and passionate traveler, some of my favorite words are: juxtaposition, serendipity, dépaysement, transition and perspective.
Grandeur amidst hardship. Smiling faces emerging out of darkness and fear. The jet age colliding with medieval. Borders, sunrises, sunsets, rituals and markets. Catch-22's, contradictions and absurd ironies. Out of these travel experiences comes clarity and insight, albeit sometimes wholly liquor induced.
Literally circling the globe each year over the last decade serving as the Event Director for that little annual around the world travel adventure competition known as The Global Scavenger Hunt, I have found truth to be more elusive... yet clarity more pronounced than ever.
Here are a couple dozen travel truisms that every traveler surely encounters somewhere along the way:
1. You either have time to travel but no money; or money to travel but no time. (I hated this one when I was young, and still do today.)
2. Travelers spend a lot of money visiting off-the-beaten path developing nations, like: Ubud, Dar es Salaam or Macchu Picchu; yet very little of that money actually stays in Bali, Kenya or Peru.
3. Inevitably tourism attracts income, profits and further investments in developing nations; yet those new investments benefit visitors instead of locals.
4. It is hard to say which affliction is worse -- wanderlust or homesickness?
5. The more equitable the income distribution of a country the blander the food.
6. It used to be said that getting there was half the fun and that it was the journey that matters not the ends; nowadays we want to get the journey over with as quickly and painlessly as possible and get to the destination.
7. Nations where people have smaller cars have much bigger vacations than people in countries with bigger cars. (I am looking at you, America!)
8. The cost of the Internet is inversely related to the cost of your hotel room. (The more expensive the hotel, the more expensive the Internet; the cheaper the hotel, free Wi-Fi.)
9. Traveling the globe makes a person more introspective.
10. In-flight turbulence usually occurs when you are about to be served a drink or mid-stream going to the bathroom. (Okay, just me!)
11. A great cheap local restaurant will be just around the corner from where you just ate a mediocre expensive meal.
12. Connecting flights will depart on time inversely based on both how late your connecting flight was and how far away the gate is.
13. You will meet your soul mate and fall hopelessly in love the night before you departure home.
14. Most feeble attempts to employ local language phrases will be met with a response in English.
15. The poorer the nation, the more time-consuming the entry requirements. (What does that say about our nation's direction?)
16. The best way to preserve heritage, culture, the environment and wildlife is to put a price tag on it; to make it worth more alive than not.
17. The more environmentally sensitive and sustainable your travel tastes, the more costly your vacation.
18. The more we love seeing something, the more we destroy it. (aka Loving it to Death Syndrome and Paradise Lost Paradox)
19. By traveling the world to see the difference in human conditions we inadvertently speed up the homogenization of that culture.
20. Ironically, today modern 21st century cities offer travelers the best wilderness adventures because they are too big, too anarchic and too wild to be tamed and packaged.
21. Paperless e-tickets are great, unless you need a paper ticket to gain entrance to the airport or want a refund.
22. Staging cultural reproductions is the only way to meet the tourist's insatiable demand for local native authenticity.
23. In the tourism industry, what is environmentally sustainable is usually not profitable.
24. The cheapest time to fly is Tuesday and Wednesday... yet the most expensive nights for staying in hotels.
What are your travel truisms and paradoxes?