Great travel experiences are rarely measured by the number of items that you check off a list. When the destination is all that matters you lose sight of why and how you got there instead of enjoying the unique experiences of the journey.
While travel has been my full time lifestyle for the past four years and a large part of my life before that it wasn’t until my trip earlier in the year to the Phillipines that I realized what that meant. I spent three days on planes, and trains, and buses to get to Olongapo City where my parents were stationed during their two year stint in the Peace Corp. With my sister and brother flying in as well this was the first time our family was together in a year and a half.
While catching up with my parents at their humble abode near Subic Bay my Dad relayed a story from one of their hikes up the edge of the nearby hill side that a local had recommended to them. They weren’t quite sure if there was an end point or just a path that gave them a good view of the valley below and after their second hour on the trail they crossed a couple going the other way and asked them if there was anything ahead or just more path? The couple looked at each other and one of them said that the path lead to Tra-La-la. So my parents kept walking for another hour or so without running into a city. It was getting late so they decided that Tra-La-La would have to wait.
It wasn’t until a month or so later while listening to one of their native co-workers tell a story that ended with “it’s probably out there somewhere in Tra-La-La” that they realized Tra-La-La wasn’t the name of a town but an idea. It is a destination out there somewhere that is always a little bit further but can never be reached.
After hearing that anecdote I realized that Tra-La-La is a driving force of our journey. We do have a destination, it just happens to be an end point with no form or definition. This frees us to live in the moment and enjoy the journey. It is the journey that reveals the test of our character, and the journey that more times than not is the entertaining and enlightening part as opposed to the often disappointing destination.
In my opinion great travel experiences come more from finding the things you never knew you were looking for. Many times those in search of revelations through travel are disappointed, because they seek and end destination and wait for enlightenment. When no greater truths are revealed they feel cheated.
If only they had taken time to enjoy the process of travel they might have noticed the beauty of everyday life. My parents enjoyed that extra hour and a half of walking to Tra-La-La while Maria and I continue on a similar albeit longer path to the destination that will never come.