Travel narrative

There is a story inside my head that wants to come out. It is the story of the perfect flight, the perfect holiday. I’ve started it many times, but I am never satisfied with it so it never gets published.

There are so many perfect moments to capture in the story, but they are the same, they conflict and cannot exist together. Which one do I pick? I cannot decide so I start again.

Such a perfect trip doesn’t exist. In reality there are bad bits, boring bits, conflict, confusion and plain old boredom. Memory picks out the best parts, turns them into a narrative that never existed in reality.

The narrative needs a reason to exist. Why would anyone tell the story of sitting by a resort swimming pool for a week?

I’ve come to the conclusion that every day of travel needs a quest, something to drive that narrative, to take you to places and adventures along the way. It doesn’t have to be major. To find a certain bottle of drink, to eat a particular dish, to follow a canal to its end. The important thing is that it gives you a direction and reason for the day.

Tying in with the quest is the struggle. Again, a day of sitting by the pool or reading a book may be restorative, but it lacks the sense of achievement that makes it memorable. This is why the journey can become the story. Some may require real adversity and conflict, but I am soft and prefer my travel without those elements. There is no pleasure in those memories.

Sometimes the narrative comes from the environment. Places that look like they should have stories. I can see those places, the tiny bar at night, light illuminating the snow. The old shophouse with the machinery inside. The beach in the evening. These are the human tales of the environment. I feel their presence, they make up so many memories in my travels, but I do not always know their stories nor how to tell them.

The day by the pool can become memorable if the scene involves a dramatic tropical storm in the golden afternoon light, a hunt for a local meal, watching the flashes of lightning from a grotty shack by the beach as you dine.

Finally, there are the characters. The people that you encounter and their stories. That is something I find difficult to add. For their privacy and for the fact that I, myself, am not a people person.

If our identity is our memories then this narrative is not just the stories we tell others but that which we tell ourselves. And although we cannot, and should not, make our lives a narrative flow, perhaps we can use it to guide our choices while always leaving plenty of room for the surprises that enrich our journey through it.


Irreverently irrelevant. Sysadmin, developer, web dude in a science research agency. WordPress, Japan, planes, trains, Arduino, Raspberry Pi/Pico, puns, dad jokes, etc

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