"I know that I will never understand the world I live in or fully know the places I've been. I've learned for sure only what I don't know — and how much I have to learn."
Anthony Bourdain — No Reservations
When I saw the news article about Anthony Bourdain’s death on my phone while traveling between Belgium and the Netherlands this past week I was immediately saddened. For me, Anthony was a big motivating factor in many of my travels around the world. Not just on my current trip, but for all of my travels beforehand too. He was and always will be one of my biggest idols. I grew up idolizing him for saying things most others would be afraid to say for fear of backlash. I was always mesmerized by his ability to submerge himself into a culture, get to know the local way of doing things and embrace learning someone else’s way of life.
In my opinion there are two main categories of people who travel. Category 1 is the “Vacationer.” It’s primarily dominated by people who only have a week or two of time off work a year or backpackers who travel around from one place to another in a very short time periods to snap photos for their Instagram and only hang out with other “vacationers.” I have been a “vacationer” before in my life and even now when I travel sometimes I still fall into this category because it allows me to feel the comforts of home or sightsee many places in as little time as possible. The problem is it typically prevents me from really getting to know and understand a culture intimately. The positive upside is it usually spent with friends, family or like minded vacationers and it allows me to escape from the everyday stress of life and enjoy my time in a new place.
The second category of a travel person is a “Traveler.” I kind of have to go with this title since my blog is No Regrets Traveler after all! This is the version I find myself fitting into more often or at least try my best to be aligned with. It’s the category I think Anthony Bourdain brought me into with his books and TV shows. It’s a more intimate and emotional travel as it forces me to put away my preconceptions of the new environment while embracing a new way to experience life. It’s raw and at times can range between wild, dangerous, breathtaking, lonely, scary, adventurous, enlightening, mind-blowing, soul defining, but most importantly it is always a chance to learn something new.
Being a “traveler” takes a deep down wondering inside yourself to want to keep searching the world. Sometimes I wonder if it’s about my internal happiness or if it’s something that was genetically built into my genes from hundreds of years before. I have been stationary when I live somewhere for more than a year, internally I’m usually itching after 6-9 months to go somewhere new. In the past 13 years I’ve lived in at least 13 different cities or countries for a minimum of 3 months. Living in new places, meeting new people, and learning new lifestyles is something that has become a part of who I am. “Settling down” and making somewhere my permanent home will be something I struggle with internally as my life progresses.
I’ll never get the chance to ask him, but I think this was probably something that affected Bourdain. As much fun as traveling is, especially based on the photos and stories, it can also be a hard life. You’re choosing to do something that goes against societal norms, you choose to walk away from friendships to experience new things elsewhere. There are times when it gets lonely and I feel disconnected from the “real” world. I’m human and I want to spend time with everyone I’ve bonded with around the world regularly while still being able to explore the world. Unfortunately that’s impossible even with all of the wonderful technological advancements in the world.
Anthony Bourdain definitely fell in the category of “traveler.” Through hard work, determination and by being himself he was able to show us what the world has to offer. I’m not sad about his death as I was in the first moment I saw the article. There are sad things about his death, but the reality is I’m happy for him that he lived life his way for many years and shared so many travel experiences with the world. He had an ability to tell stories in a way in which felt real. He told them with his honest emotions and by listening to him or reading his books it was often evident he struggled with finding his real happiness. I’m thankful for the experiences and stories he has left behind.
I’m lucky to know that I have a fantastic family who will always accept me when I return home. Whether it be for a weekend, a week or more. The time has come for me internally to make a return visit home to see those wonderful people who helped shape me into who I am, but also have accepted and supported my internal desire to see the world. I will enjoy my time at home with family, but I’m also looking forward to continue my “traveler” lifestyle!