Fourteen hours in cars. Seven hours in trains. Plenty of rushing. Plenty of waiting. And lots of lugging around heavy bags. That’s what I’ve been up to this week. Well, since last Friday specifically.
It’s funny the way different people in different situations perceive travel. Many think of it as a luxury. Many are begrudgingly forced to travel for work. Many really don’t travel all that much and find it nerve-wracking. The intriguing differences between British regional accents prove the history that people never used to venture very far from home. As we all know, times have changed. Growing up in Melbourne, I knew plenty of people who stayed at home on the weekends and had virtually no experience of the country, the beach or the open road. My family’s always been into going places and doing things… but I think I’ve taken it to a bit of an extreme over the past few years.
My part-time ski instructor work-mates and I often like to muse over how crazy the rest of the world thinks we are, spending at least ten hours in a weekend driving up and down the mountain to go skiing – and to work! But we don’t think twice about it. A five hour car trip, for many, is a rare adventure. For us, it’s a routine. Last weekend we drove practically the whole way without a break and the time actually flew. We know the winding part of the road will take a certain amount of time (depending on conditions). We know the straight runs and the turn-offs and the best places to grab a feed. Our journeys are almost always done at night, after 5pm, often arriving home well past bedtime. It’s a routine. But it’s a pretty fun one.
Lately I’ve been setting myself up with a V/Line routine between Marshall, Geelong and Melbourne. I drive to the station, I find a park (sometimes tricker than you’d think), I dutifully read a chapter from my textbook during the journey, and after arriving I change trains to get to uni. People say I’m crazy. It takes longer on the train than it would to drive. It’s a hassle. But the way I see it, driving is a hassle. When would I read my textbook if I was always driving around? And the train’s going to where I am going anyway. Why would I drive along the freeway next to it, chewing up petrol and parking money?
I’ve been pretty good so far, always getting down to it and reading through the chapters on the train. I’ve got my iPod. (Train travel rule number one: ALWAYS take something to block out distractions). I bring along some snacks for the ride. I carry enough bags and stuff with me that I have everything I need without over-doing the heavy factor. The travel thing is something I’m just taking in my stride at the moment. But I know I’m going to be absolutely over it by the end of semester.
‘Travel’ to me has always symbolised exciting adventure, and even when it’s just me going from Torquay to uni for a class, I try to keep that untarnished attitude in mind. I have amazing memories of ‘travelling’ through India on a rickety overnight train and across South America on bumbling long-distance buses. Why is this any different? V/Line’s pretty comfy and they give you free water and there are toilets. Travel is captivating. Going somewhere else is exciting. I’m going to keep this up for a little longer. Just a couple of months to go.
I’ve certainly heard some interesting commuting stories in the past.
What’s your attitude towards travel, in that general sense of the word?