Memoirs of a Traveling Man
About halfway through The Hangover, Phil, Stu, and Alan drive to Mike Tyson’s mansion and watch a security tape of the night they broke through his front gate, pissed in his fountain and stole his tiger. The looks on their faces as they watch the video – disbelief, flowed by a slow wave self-satisfied grins – are priceless. They knew they’d done some epic, once-in-a-lifetime shit. I watched the movie again after a year-long trip to 12 African countries, and when it ended I remember thinking: now that’s how you do a vacation. Spontaneous, adventurous, unscripted fun.
But most vacations are stillborn; dead before you even hit the airport. You can always spot a traveler suffocating under the weight of their own plans: they’re too busy checking things off of their to-do lists to have an adventure, too focused on a guidebook that’s supposed to tell them how to have a good time instead of actually having a good time. They all look constipated and unhappy.
Here’s the funny thing: this is how we tend to act everyday. We plan as much volatility and uncertainty out of our lives as we possibly can. Five year plans and ten-year plans. Plans to go to college, then graduate school, then plans to get an internship and a good paying job, a good insurance plan in case someone dies and an air tight plan for a comfortable retirement.
All of this planning is good thing, except when you travel. A vacation is one of the few times in our lives when we get to appreciate the thrill of uncertainty. When we learn to appreciate the unexpected, the world becomes a more interesting, breathtaking, and divine place. If you give yourself the freedom to be free – to wander, wonder, explore, change your mind, get lost, make new friends, drink too much, eat bad food, drink the water, laugh with locals, sleep in, try things you can’t pronounce, walk in the rain, sleep outside, and ask stupid questions –you’ll get more out of your vacation than a few campy photos to show your Facebook friends.
Africa’s a good continent for some reckless fun. In Zambia, I met a few tourists, rented some bikes, and we rode a few miles into a wildlife reserve, where we pedaled into a herd of elephants. Not as epic as stealing a tiger from Mike Tyson’s house, but still pretty good.
TO BE CONTINUED…………………..
Written By: lANRE aKINSIKU