Why we travel

Recently I read another tedious Wikipedia article.

This time it was about ‘taxis’, a concept in biology that relates the movements of an organism to certain stimuli. The best known example is so-called phototaxis which describes the movement of an organism towards a light source.

Though phototaxis normally applies to microorganisms, it also seems useful in describing the migration of those  sun-deprived tourists who flock to the Mediterranean beaches every year. I find the parallel interesting as it suggests a behavioural origin of travel.

Last year there were 1087 million international tourist arrivals. There were also some 16 million refugees fleeing their country in that same year. They all travelled in wildly different directions, but essentially, all those millions responded to certain stimuli.

Alexander the Great travelled in search of conquests, traders travelled in search of trade and scientists travelled in search of…  well, more science, I guess. Again, they all responded to certain stimuli.

Except for Robert Louis Stevenson, an established nineteenth century fruitcake, who  wrote:

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.

I underwrite these words except for the cutting flints. You don’t need cutting flints when you’re riding a bicycle.

Robert Louis Stevenson also wrote Treasure Island, a book that strenghtened my resolve to become a treasure hunter, that is,  if I happen to fail in bicycle touring.

But I digress, I haven’t even begun bicycle touring yet.


Why we really travel…   Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.


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