Chicken pox, mono, cold sores, herpes, what do they all have in common? They’re all caused by one of the eight types of herpes viruses. Aside from shocking my non-healthcare professional friends with that knowledge, I’m going to be so bold as to announce a discovery that will astonish every reader of this blog; the travel bug is a herpes virus.
That’s right, the travel bug, a common contagion contracted by travellers of all ages, is incurable. How do I know? Well, I myself have been infected.
You’ve heard of the travel bug before. Not the one that has you spewing from both ends into the jungle in a rural Ecuadorian village, wiping your ass with a banana leaf after a questionable burger you knew you shouldn’t consume but had to in order to appease your craving for western food *true story*.
No, this infliction is far more potent. It will affect your career, relationships, hobbies, finances- essentially your entire life as you know it.
I’m talking of course about the travel bug. It’s the ache in your soul for exploration. It’s the itching in your feet to wander through new territory. Or, to steal words from the author Junot Díaz, it’s “the inextinguishable longing for elsewheres.”
The travel bug is that feeling you acquire after you begin travelling and realize you have so much left to see.
After that, it’s over. Resistance is futile. The infection is permanent. You can’t stop travelling.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already have. However it began, wherever you went, you travelled and now it’s all you can think about doing.
What happened? You were living a comfortable life at home and then one day you stepped out into the broader world and everything was different.
From the moment you got off the plane you noticed it. The smells, the noises, the tastes, the traffic, the toilets, nothing was the way you were used to.
It’s shocking, it’s scary, it’s exhilarating, and worst of all, it’s addicting.
Travel opens your mind. It allows you to enter a world where everyone is living a life totally unlike your own, and it’s working.
How do they drive like that and not crash? How can they eat that? How do they survive? The questions are endless and your curiosity grows.
The more you learn, the less you know.
If this place is so different, what are others like? What else is out there? The only way to really find out is to experience it for yourself; to keep travelling.
That’s it. That’s all it took. That’s how you contracted the travel bug.
Most people know that herpes viruses are incurable, but do you know why? Because when you recover from a herpes infection your body doesn’t actually kill the virus, it just controls it. The virus remains dormant in your cells for the rest of your life. That’s why people get cold sores over and over again, especially during times of stress when their immune system is weakened.
It is my personal opinion that the travel bug acts the same way.
You enjoy your trip, return home, and settle back into your comfortable routine. Then one day you have this uncontainable desire to go. You have to get out there and see the world.
The travel bug, which had been suppressed by the familiarity of the ordinary, has once again found its way into your veins and pushed you to go explore. I’m afraid you’ve been infected and there is no cure.
The only treatment is to keep travelling.