My most recent book has been to read ‘Mission Mongolia: Two men, one van, no turning back…’, in which travel is being used as an extreme act of ‘escapism’ as a mid-life crisis. Geoff and David were made redundant by the BBC and, in an act of madness some might say, took the plunge to leave their loved ones for a few weeks and blow some of their redundancy package in the name of charity – by driving 8000 miles in a van costing under £1000 from London to Mongolia, with the aim of leaving the van behind with the communities in Mongolia and giving them much needed support and resources.
I think it’s quite fair to say that this trek was appealing to the two men mostly because of the adventure it would give them, if the same thing had been offered to them but only to drive to Land’s End, the trip wouldn’t have been quite to enticing. I am now about 2/3rd’s of the way through the book and the two men are currently traveling through Siberia and Semey (formally Semipalatinsk , in the Kazakhstan part of Siberia, bordering Russia), encountering all sorts of people and learning a lot along the way.
In the previous books that I have reviewed, some might have called the people travelling selfish, take Cheryl in ‘The Wild, Christopher McCandless in ‘Into the Wild’ and Wilma in ‘Surf Mama’ and it could be said that all of these people were selfishly motivated, travelling only because they felt ‘let down’ by the society that the rest of us thrive perfectly well in and using travel just as a way to escape reality. However I think the same really cannot be said for David and Geoff on their Mongol adventure, their motive for travelling is totally selfless, spending a lot of money, being away from their families and putting themselves in sometimes serious danger all for some charity work. These men aren’t travelling to ‘find themselves’, they are travelling simply for the adventure, enjoyment and fulfillment that they will get when they finish their epic journey.
In simplistic terms, to answer my question, ‘Why do people travel?’, this book responds with ‘For fun’. Perhaps the fact that it is for charity was almost a pleasant by-product and excuse for the two men to have this adventure. At the beginning of the book, the men are a little lost, a little unsure of what to do with their newly retired state, and travelling has helped them regain a sort of direction and purpose to life.
So is that why people travel? Because following that road means you can determine what road you really want to be on.
I hope to finish this book in a few days and will be reporting back!