Waiting to exhale. Unplug and disconnect.
In this month’s British Airways ‘High Life South Africa’ in-flight magazine, one of my bests Pippa de Bruyn, speaks to a collection of my favourite travel writers – and me – about the secret places we go to regenerate. Pick up a copy when flying BA, or read on below.
‘Travel isn’t always pretty,’ wrote Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. ‘It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you.’ Eleven years later Bourdain hanged himself in his hotel room, on location for his travel series Parts Unkown.
An ardent advocate of travel, Bourdain visited 438 destinations for his TV shows alone, a journey that crisscrossed all seven continents. By all accounts he was living the dream: making money by travelling the world, influencing us about where to go, what to eat, how to engage with other cultures. Bourdain was a global celebrity but anyone who makes a living from travel is typically envied, their Instagram posts of exotic locales producing spurts of FOMO in their followers.
But as his untimely death in part proved, travelling at a certain pace, with a certain purpose, is not as glamorous or exciting as it appears. Common side effects not shared on social platforms include irascibility, exhaustion, loneliness… What happens when travel becomes work? Are there still places that travel writers can escape to, that regenerate rather than deplete them?
Pippa writes of me …. ‘My last stop is with Dawn Bradnick Jorgensen, aka the award-winning ‘Incidental Tourist’ who started blogging in 2010 after she sold her tour operating business. ‘I blew the money I made on the business on new travel experiences. I had travelled a lot as a tour operator but I wanted to own the travel experiences. Travel is more authentic when you pay your own way. But then the blogging became a business.’
I have hardly seen Dawn in the two years since we floated naked in the inky black waters off the coast of Madagascar – a press trip we both rate as the best yet. Hardly surprising: she tells me she completed 45 flights last year and spent an average of 10 or more days a month away.
‘I’m trying to cut back by being more selective. I want to stop participating in over-curated trips in which every night is in a different place, and every minute accounted for. Last year I sent a friend an impromptu message: ‘Meet me in Morocco.’ She did. We hired a car and stayed in Airbnbs and I rediscovered why I loved to travel. I don’t mind luxury and five-star but that is not what replenishes me. I am constantly online, and the more busy life gets the more I need time to be offline, to be in nature, in pristine, protected places. I get my fix from walking in the mountains or being near the sea.
‘I have had amazing travel experiences in the last two decades but to be honest the most replenishing experience is often just opening my front door, to find my dogs overjoyed to see me. Home. For a while.’
** Follow Pippa de Bruyn on Instagram, and look out for her writings on Getaway, Telegraph UK and many more. Thank you for the inclusion lovely one x.