A travel bug is (hint, the ideer is to pick one):
1. A bug that travels with you to or from your exotic destination in an unchecked pocket, container or orofice.
2. A feeling that — once acquired in life at a very young, middle-of-road or nearly ancient age — sticks with you for a the rest of your time on earth like the memory of your first kiss and his terrible breath.
3. An unwanted gift bestowed on a traveler, but not the good kind, like a free helicopter ride or free session with a hunky Hawaiian massage therapist. I’m talking more like the revenge Montezuma took.
If you chose answer 1, a visit to the doctor might be in order but you probably don’t have the travel bug — just an annoying parasite or six. If you chose answer 2, you’ve got it bad — you’re wallowing in it like a Yak in a muddy river in the Himalayas. If you chose answer 3 — well what are you doing reading this? Suck down some chicken noodle soup and call me in the morning.
The most succinct definition of “travel bug” I found in my oh-so extensive research this evening is this, from 5minuteenglish.com:
Travel Bug (idiom): strong desire to travel.
Duh — right? But what is it? As St. Augustine of Canterbury (a Benedictine monk who is considered by some to be the founder of the English Church) wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” So, in a sense, the world is a book and we are the readers, but the bug itself is what allows and provokes us to read it. The problem we chronic travelers — those of us afflicted with the travel bug –have is that we devour the book like starved monkeys on a banana farm. And then, we still want more bananas!
Why? Perhaps it comes down to curiosity. While it has been said that curiosity killed the cat, the same is not necessarily claimed for a human (excluding Darwin awards). To paraphrase an article from lifehack.org, curiosity expands the mind, allowing it to see things in a fresh light — kind of like glasses, Warby Parkers, perchance — but cheaper. Curiosity activates the mind — kind of like certain drugs that can be inhaled through a pipe, but curiosity is gentler on the lungs. Inventors like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin poured curiosity all over their Wheaties — and look what they accomplished. In a genetic sense, this could be helpful in maintaining humans as a species — if we keep moving around, we’ll keep meeting new people which inevitably leads to more people (depending on how Catholic you aren’t).
At any rate, the travel bug is a mysterious illness, as its cure is the same as its infection. Once in remission, the victim of a travel bug may relapse at any time — a sound or a smell could act as catalyst. Perhaps fresh bread wafting on the breeze brings one back to baguettes in Paris, or a drunk urinating on a sidewalk in Denver delves one back into pretty much any street in Italy.
Although our trigger may differ, we buggers all suffer from the same unpredictable, powerful urge to just go. There’s more than curiosity afoot here — there is power. Power enough to force us to forfeit work, friends and family and embark across the shining seas aboard a giant vessel full of infected people that hurtles through the thin air outside faster than you can say, “Another complimentary vodka tonic, monsieur.”
Yet, it must be noted — the travel bug is predominantly a First World problem, homes! At the moment, I must sustain my travel bug with poignant bouts of nostalgia, pathetic attempts at homemade croissants and bike rides across the crusty remains of snowdrifts for a cappuccino. But at least I am fortunate enough to have a travel bug and be able to worry about it, right? If life was all about feedingy ourself and your chitlins, you probably wouldn’t be so concerned with a burning desire to chill out on the beach in Thailand.
But think about it — we’re facing a new epidemic, at least in the First World. Imagine what might happen if the First World turned to travel bug-infested rubble… someone, somewhere in some third world country might never, ever be exposed to a Chicken McNugget — for example. I shudder uncontrollably whilst I think this thought. Shouldn’t scientists be more concerned? According to nationsonline.org,North America, Japan, Western Europe and Australia are considered First World fodder. Just for kicks, we could also throw some so-called “second world” areas in the mix. like Eastern Europe. Let’s run some numbers…
- 16,241,000 in Northern America;
- 3,264,000 in Europe;
- 1,955,000 in Oceania;
In total, that’s 21,460,000 potential travel bug victims. The end of the world is near! The Mayans were right! And with no other known cure for the travel bug except more travel, I think mandatory vaccinations are in order.