Stop Ruining My Quest, Please

by William Wellman / Sep 12, 2013 / 1 comments

It was sitting in a European airport cafe, sipping on a strange brew of coffee, that I realized there was a difference between myself and the perfidiously bouncy siblings around me.


For me, travel is like a quest.


For them, it is like that annoying but necessary waiting you must endure while standing in front of a microwave until it is finished nuking your leftover pizza.


I’m not sure where it comes from, but it’s true. I take travel with a measure of seriousness. It’s usually a good-natured seriousness. I can laugh and joke the entire flight. I can keep a smile going for a fifteen hour bus ride. But for me, it’s less like hanging out with friends on the corner where Safety St. and Comfort Blvd. converge, and more like some good-spirited companionship between fellow warriors, off to conquer some dark fortress in a distant land.


Stop Ruining My Quest, Please


I’m not the only one, I think. You can tell the difference. That family standing over there, suitcases together, flipping through the information books, trying to make sure they’re in the right terminal? We look at each other and in the passing glance, we agree that travel is an adventure, and not always a safe one. Instead of green-skinned trolls, you are forced to fight time itself in epic battles of plane delays, schedule conflicts, and sprinting across the airport desperate to reach your plane before it flies off without you.


On the other hand, the teenager wearing pajama pants with cartoon cats on them, pillow in hand and pink suitcase bouncing behind? I’m less inclined to seriously consider her as any sort of compatriot or brother in arms in this great, ongoing battle against Murphy’s Law. It’s not about appearances, of course: it’s the mindset. When you travel, are you hopping out the door with the intention of dragging yourself through everything and crashing at your destination? Or are you leaping into another adventure, determined to put a bold face on it no matter the outcome and maybe enjoy the experience along the way?


Of course, travel will never be completely enjoyable. If you don’t come away with a story about a terrible experience, it doesn’t count as travel. That’s called ‘vacation’ and there’s a difference. But travel has its moments. The overwhelming stress caused by yanking your child’s head from the jawlike doors of a London Subway car is balanced by the moments of reprieve granted by a peaceful Starbucks or a warm bed. Often, you appreciate these luxuries all the more for the hard moments you’re forced to endure in between.


Stop Ruining My Quest, Please


If you’re just lying on the sofa and someone hands you a bottled water, you might ask for a soda instead. But if you run a marathon, stumble in over the finish line, drag yourself over to the refreshment table, and someone hands you that same bottle of water, you’re probably going to drink it without complaining, and even be thankful for it. Tough experiences have a way of reminding us just how good the pleasant ones are.


And I believe, in the end, it’s that which forms the greatest difference between the modern wandering knight and the modern wandering tourist: a certain willingness to take the good along with the bad and accept it as one part of a great venture. We may complain about our problems, but we weather them and come out stronger; more appreciative of the good moments we do have, as opposed to simply whining and searching for the most luxurious, pain-free way to get from point A to point B.


Someday, one of these days, I’m going to snap. I can only take so many squabbling fights over whether to order the omelet or a plain biscuit; or how one sibling got a bigger soda than everyone else and how unfair that is. This is travel, and there are greater issues to face. One of these days, I’m going to lean over, and whisper,


Stop ruining my quest, please.






Will Wellman is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Will Wellman




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