Monday, November 28, 2011

No excess luxury, no excess hardship

That's been my motto so far, in life in general but particularly in traveling. If I blew through savings a little more, I could live like a bit of a king here in India. Or, I could do as some hardcore folks I've met have done, and scrape by on $4/day or arrive in India with $130 to my name.

But excess luxury, in addition to eating your money faster, makes things less Haimish. (more) (and a lot of thoughts about this; maybe I'll post more later.) And excess hardship, in addition to being difficult, feels pretentious, like slumming.

Among backpackers/young travelers, I notice a lot of scorn for excess luxury, but not much scorn, and indeed some admiration, for excess hardship. There's this idea that suffering will lead to a more rewarding experience, or a more "real" one, or something. I mean, it can, right, but it doesn't necessarily. "I sometimes wonder if it's necessary to admire such self-punishers as... the average mountaineer or Vendee Cup entrant." I am right near a lot of places I could sleep for under $5. But then if I got bedbugs because I didn't want to splurge for the $15 place that I'm currently in, I don't think it'd be rewarding or enriching. (I could be wrong. And I'm not being sarcstic.)

Here's another option: admire travelers if they're doing a very meaningful trip, not a very difficult one. I know a guy who's on a quest around the world to eventually meet this counter-cultural French filmmaker in Paris. That's cool. I know a guy who just biked from England to Nepal. That's cool too. But it's not because he suffered a lot along the way; it's because he must have really wanted to make this trip, and really enjoyed it, to deal with all that suffering along the way.

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