I’ve always liked the idea of myself as a nomad, an itchy-footed wanderluster who can get by anywhere. Since I finished school I’ve spent half my life overseas, not because I want to escape my hometown, but because I’m greedy. One life is not enough for me. I want several versions of my life, in several countries.
To create the sense I have a new life somewhere, I try to embrace the concept of slow travel. It’s about exploring beyond tourist hotspots, engaging with individuals and communities, and having a positive impact wherever I go. And as I’ve slowed down my traveling, I’ve reached a conclusion. I’m not a nomad, a person who can handle rootlessness. Instead, I crave connections, communities and friends. I don’t want to drift across continents or float through countries. I want to leave a mark and I want places and people to leave marks on me. I want to be at home every time I reach a new town.
It’s contradictory that while I regularly change my environment, I crave routine, the feeling of an ordinary life lived somewhere else. Even if I’m in a city for just a week, I like to go to the same coffee shop each morning, catch the commuter train downtown each day, go to a pub where – if I stayed a few weeks longer – the barman might know my name and how I take my favourite drink. I guess I’m like most travelers. I’m on a serach for authenticity. But surely it’s only an illusion of authenticity? Doesn’t it take months and years to be able to call somewhere home?
Vayable helps me travel the way I want to travel: as a participant, not an observer; as an adventurer, not a follower; as a human being who wants to connect with other human beings. When I go on traditional tours in big groups with unenthusiastic guides, I feel my role as a tourist is reinforced and amplified. Vayable experiences help create the illusion that I’m temporarily a local, that I’m hanging out with a friend. It feels meaningful and genuine.
And after hosting and joining several Vayable experiences, I’m not sure this feeling of authenticity is illusory. Vayable guides and customers have cooked me dinner, bought me beers, and offered me beds to sleep in. It’s true that the internet is changing the way we travel. It’s blurring the line between local and global, hosts and tourists, ‘us’ and ‘them’. The way I travel now, I don’t need to create several versions of my life. I can have one life, experienced authentically in many different places.