A Rambling on Travel

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(BluePrints Staff Photo // Dustin Braden)

BY NICK BYGRAVE (’15)

2:21 am

I’ve traveled to many interesting places. Or I assume they’re interesting, because I was very young when I went. France, Croatia, Peru, Italy, Spain – all vague memories. Little snippets in my head of posing for pictures in hot weather with various family members. I remember getting lost in Venice, and I remember getting sick in Peru flying over the Nazca lines in a Cessna.  Other than that, I remember absolutely nothing that occurred in my life up until about 2008.

I feel that it’s very important to travel. I truly believe it broadens the mind. However, traveling doesn’t mean going to five star resorts, tanning by a pool full of badly burned tourists. Museums and art galleries and that sort of thing are great, but not mandatory. With me, I always fear that if I go to see something famous, i.e. Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Mona Lisa, it’ll never quite stack up to my expectations. “It’s just a building that hasn’t fallen over yet.” I’ll think, or “It’s a bit smaller than I imagined.” It’s not like if given a ticket to see the attraction I would reject it, but you get the point.

I think the best possible way to experience a different location is a road trip. Get a rental van, or better still buy a beater for dirt cheap, and get a good group of friends, and off you go to wherever is decided. No tour buses or guides, no crap merchandise or “photo opportunity” signs. Just a road ahead of you, a map (or GPS today) and a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks. Also, it’s important to stop in small towns and ask locals for advice. “What’s the best restaurant in the area?” is a good one. Avoid chain restaurants as much as possible (This goes for life in general). Stop and find out the history of the town, it’s probably more interesting than you think. Now, does this mean you should avoid ALL tourist-y things? No, just most of them. Not because they’re boring or anything, but so you have time to do things worth doing that aren’t in brochures. Do the ones that you’re really interested in, and then venture on your own.

Another thing I like about travel is how you don’t even have to leave the country. The United States is so huge and so vast and so massive that traveling from one side to the other is as different as traveling through countries in Europe. Hell, driving 30 minutes in a direction you don’t usually go is like being dropped in a foreign country, let alone crossing state borders. I’ve never been to California, but in my head it seems like the only thing more popular than pot smoking are the campaigns to legalize it. I’d like to be proven wrong, and I’m sure I will be someday. Is New Jersey as much of a pile of garbage as it is on TV? Is Wyoming as baron and empty as Google+? Is Maine nothing more than a cliffside with lighthouses? Probably, but also possibly not.

It’s late again. My dad just got frustrated because he found his old glasses, meaning he didn’t need to buy his new ones he’s wearing. I’ll try and sleep. No I won’t.