Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
Tucked away in the top of a wardrobe are a couple of pairs of baggy cotton trousers and a load of tops that, although not quite dashiki or tie-dye, are of a certain ‘travel’ style.
I own these because for a short while I bought into a notion that had been subliminally implanted in my head over years of hanging out with friends who seemed to live a far more exotic lifestyle than I did.
If you’re a serious traveller, you have a certain look.
Whilst I did the conventional thing, working my way up a 9-5 ladder between Monday and Friday, these friends danced on Thai beaches, picked olives on the Greek Islands, set up home in remote, sub-tropical valleys and built stages at Glastonbury.
Their lives were wildly different from each other. And yet they all had that look – casually anarchic and non-conformist. It was a look I envied. They looked like bona fide travellers. I looked like I belonged in an office. Where they were free spirits. I was the establishment.
When we decided to hit the brakes on a corporate lifestyle and skydived into the unknown, I decided I’d adopt that look and so I bought the ‘outfit’. However, when we relocated to the banana plants and palm trees and I put on my ‘cool guy who lives in another country’ clothes, one thing became clearer than the water in a Mediterranean cove.
I looked like a complete twonk in them.
The thing is, Charlie Brown is Charlie Brown.
When Charlie rolls into another neighbourhood and is mistaken for a mysterious soldier it doesn’t take the kids in the hood long to discover he’s boring old Charlie Brown. More importantly it doesn’t take Charlie long to realise he’s still the same old Charlie Brown.
I like to visit new places. I like to have new experiences. I always have done. Although my occupation has changed, those characteristics haven’t because I haven’t changed.
I’ve learned things and had incredible experiences. But then, that also has always been the case. You don’t have to travel anywhere exotic for either of those to happen.
It’s not a chicken and an egg situation. I enjoy travel experiences because I’m me. I’m not me because I like to travel. At this point I might launch into a chorus of I am who I am.
A combination of watching Madmen and a trip to London for the World Travel Market last year made me also realise that I also like wearing suits as much as I like wearing cargo pants and a t-shirt… and a hell of a lot more than the old cotton pants and tie-dyes.
Swapping location and occupation didn’t change anything fundamental.
I don’t look like, and never will, those friends who wear their savvy traveller garb so easily. That’s their thing not mine and I’m happy with that because no matter where you are, who you are remains the same.
What’s inside your head and your heart defines who you are, not whatever wrapping you choose to wear.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+