Why is it necessary for us to travel?

HUMANS LOVE to travel. Mentally or physically, they escape to other places. They crave adventure. They seek the unknown. They want to see new places, learn new things, enjoy new experiences and then return home to the familiar, the predictable, the secure, before taking off again on their travels.

This departure-return behaviour has its origins, perhaps, in the early exploratory behaviour of the child. Research has shown that children who are “securely attached” to their parents, sure of their affection and protection, and who know that their parents will respond to their needs, are more independent, adventurous and exploratory in their play and behaviour.

Observations of infants show that from the safe base of having a parent present and available, the infant dares to move away a short distance and then return to the parent, to move a little further and return, until in incremental and amazingly measurable distances it explores the environment that surrounds it and has the courage to move beyond it.

This may be the first symbolic travel: the first departure, the first expedition and the possible beginning of the travel bug for those for whom their initial independent voyaging was successful.

With these first independent steps away from the parental presence lies the atavistic or recurring wish to reach out beyond the current confines of space and relationship

and see what is further away. And yet further again to see what is not visible, what is around the next corner, in the next room and eventually on

the other side of our geographical or psychological world. This is a human need. It is why we have uncovered our world, travelled its length, hiked to the top of its mountains and the depth of its oceans. It is why we became discontent with exploring our own plant but had to move beyond it into the unknown. It is why, as poet TS Eliot reminds us, we will “not cease from exploration”.

It is our nature to travel. It is our joy to travel. It is our paradoxical psychological disposition to wish for the contradictory conditions of stability and change: to stay and to go, to be and to explore, to rest and to travel unceasingly.

Travel is more than going somewhere. It is a psychological event. It requires motivation and imagination. It begins in childhood with faltering first steps and with imagination fired by the tales of “long, long ago in a faraway land”.

We emerge from these fantasies of childhood determined to cross the oceans, to find those faraway lands, the characters they containand the magic they hold. Determined to find the adventures they promise and the prospect of returning home triumphant with trophies having vanquished all fear, overcome all obstacles and live happily eve after.

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