As you leave the train station in Leicester, you will notice a rather unassuming Victorian statue that on closer inspection turns out to be Thomas Cook the father of the modern tourism industry. It began in 1841 when he took 500 people on a train to Lutterworth (not somewhere on most peoples bucket-list). Since his first trip, tourism has gradually become mainstream and is now worth over 7 trillion dollars globally. This first tourism became possible as the industrial revoloution had resulted in rising workplace standards giving workers a disposable income, free time and a need to put these new resources to good use.
This makes me think about the purpose of travel. Is wandering a natural itch, that is present since the time of hunter gatherers? Something that must be scratched and tourism provides it with a necessary outlet? Maybe the invention of tourism is a western distraction that serves no practical purpose past satisfying people's natural curiosity to gawp and be nosey. I notice that a lot of people who travel for a longer period of time are westerners. Like the Victorians, westerners have a disposable income, but is the western travel culture just a legacy of (Thomas Cook)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cook]? Is travelling just an extravagance of the west that has no wider purpose beyond our own vanity or is it an opportunity that much of the world's 7.6 billion population don't have the disposable resources to benefit from? I guess one answer is that many people that I meet from other countries are curious and sometimes envious about where I have been travelling, it is certainly a privilege that I'm able to indulge in.
I've done a reasonable amount of travelling now. Sometimes it consists of a fleeting visits to a city, sometimes it is slower travel and working abroad. Travelling can feel like self-indulgent procrastination, is it really worth my time? Is it meaningful and what are the benefits? In July 2017 I decided to give up my job, pack my bags and buy a one-way plane ticket to India. Depending on who you speak to, depends on whether people think that it is a good idea or not? This made me think a bit about the purpose of travel, so these are my views and why the positives outweigh the negatives. After two months travelling overall I feel happier and healthier and prepared for the next chapter that life will bring.
It wastes money, It's bad for the environment (my carbon-footprint is massive), you avoid life's big decisions, it creates gaps in my CV. It's not always fun and at times can be risky.
Overall travelling is just being, you aren't creating anything meangingful or contributing back to society something that I really valued about teaching.
It allows me to: Find space; to think deeply; to learn from others; to expand my horizons; to see the horizon; to take a new perspectives; to gain new experiences; to press refresh; to feel insignificant; to wander; to appreciate art, architecture and music; to talk to strangers; to read; to taste new foods; to leave my comfort zone; to learn new skills; to listen to others; to appreciate what I've left behind; for adventure; to make new friends and to strengthen old friendships; to feel alive.
Maybe travelling isn't an end in itself. It is not the destination, but it is a journey, a transition and a method to help you stumble across your next destination in life.
Thomas Cook Image coutesy of SteHLiverpool