There are few things more terrifying than sitting on an aeroplane waiting for it to take off. Not because you’ll soon be five miles in the air, but because you might be sat next to an asshole.
A few weeks ago I found myself in this situation. The seat next to me was left empty until the very last second, and for a moment I’d assumed I’d hit the jackpot and would not have to sit next to anybody for the whole journey. WRONG. Sure enough, some douchebag comes meandering along at the very last second with more bags than body weight and lumps next to me with all the grace of an exploding nail bomb. Within a few seconds she had begun talking to me and I immediately knew that this would be the case for the next two hours. When I looked up to her, my worst fears were confirmed...
For the purposes of this article we’ll call her Melanie, because that’s her real name (Melanie Rigby to be precise. You can probably find her on Facebook with little effort). Melanie told me that she had recently came back from Asia and had stopped off in Scotland to see friends. But Asia was where the real cultural experiences happened, and of course Melanie had “soooo many amazing experiences” there.
From what I can tell, this is what Melanie experienced in Asia:
• Ate fried stick insects in Japan
• Had a crazy man massage her with fire
• Saw Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Dubai
• Got blisters from walking
So far, so good. I have no problem with any of these things. Then Melanie said something which made me kick open the emergency exit doors and throw her off the plane mid-flight. When I told her I was travelling for work, she told me to “just quit my job and go travelling, like I did”, because “it will solve all my problems”.
First of all, I don’t have problems. I spend the majority of my days wanking into a flannel and having sex with supermodels. This isn’t a problem. Secondly, how exactly will travelling alter my life for the better? Well, I looked into it and it turns out that it doesn’t.
If someone is telling you to quit your job and backpack across the world, then chances are they don’t have to worry about money themselves. If someone is telling you to “not worry about money”, then that person probably has their travel expenses subsidised by mommy and daddy. That is a total 100% fact. It is absolutely impossible to travel without money. What are you doing? Giving handjobs to pilots in return for flights? Eating gravel? Drinking your own piss? Someone has paid for your opportunities, it just wasn’t you. Don’t assume everyone else has the privilege, desire or lack of restrictions to be able to “just travel”.
If you want to travel the world, do it, but we should be cynical of the attitude which comes with this common belief amongst millenials that travelling will automatically make you a more cultured person. It won’t. If you have no personality when you take off, you still won’t have one when you land. Travelling for the sake of travelling isn’t a success. There’s even an extreme case of this phenomenon in which some people believe that travelling is a moral necessity which needs to be conquered in order to become a more cultivated individual. Wrong. I personally would argue that it’s the complete opposite; that the idea of travelling is a goal post for a life devoid of meaning.
Nothing about anyone’s lack of ability or lack of eagerness to travel should say anything about them as a person. Someone who has the freedom to travel while they’re young does not make them any more interesting than a person of the same age who has stayed in their home country and worked or educated themselves to a higher standard. Some people simply don’t have the desire, freedom, lack of restrictions or financial security to “just travel”.
By encouraging a person to “drop everything and travel”, this smug asshole is not only proving that they have very little understanding of how the world works, but they’re also making an assumption about your life, your desires, your choices and your happiness. They assume that you’re in a position to just pack your bags and leave. They’re assuming you have no responsibilities. They’re asking you why you would rather stay at home when you could have blisters on your feet from walking around Dubai. They’re assuming you can travel and that you want to, you’re just not.
“So when I was in Italy, I think it was on the second or third day I was there. The temperature was about 36 degrees. No wait, more like 38 degrees. Actually it might have been the fourth day because the first few days weren’t that hot. Yeah, the fourth day. Anyway we met this local guy but he wasn’t Italian. He must have been Spanish I think but he was originally from Mexico. He showed us around the town and we ended up eating at this amazing pasta place. Oh my god, you have to try it. If you ever go, let me know and I’ll text Carlos to take you. Carlos? Oh yeah, that's his name. He’s a really lovely guy. Oh wait, he said he was moving back to Spain in a few months. Anyway, my point was; even though we hanged around with Carlos for two weeks, he didn’t even realise we were English until the last day! How weird is that!?”
Wow. Tell us another one. This brings me back to my point of people thinking that travelling is a shortcut to becoming a more interesting person. Once again; it isn’t. If you suck at telling stories about your own country, you will suck even more at telling stories about “meeting the locals” in Thailand. Think of the last time someone really captured your imagination when they told you about their tales of travelling the world. I can’t think of a single instance and god knows I’ve heard enough shitty stories. Just because you might have seen a part of the world someone else hasn’t, it doesn’t immediately make your story less boring.
Despite all of this; I get it. I get that you might feel your life is without purpose and you need a purpose to be happy, but you won’t magically find purpose by eating fried insects on the other side of the world. You find it by addressing what it is that makes you want to travel in the first place.
I don’t really like the Inbetweeners that much. I think the majority of it is shit. But the second film is about the people you meet when travelling and this scene sums up the majority of my feelings on the subject.
TL:DR; shut up.