Chasing the Ghosts of Travel Past: A FITNESS in Failure

Last month, I was having drinks with a well-known travel writer and like two soldiers discussing battle wounds from the same war, we discussed the cycle of travel, being on the highway for years at the same time, the highs, the lows, and everything among. As we wandered the battlefield of memories, we discovered this issue of friends and re-visiting places.

I lamented to him my recent exit from Ios, a location I had fallen deeply in love with and a location that pulls me back there nonetheless. I keep seeing Facebook status updates from friends and it creates me depressed. But I can’t return back there. What I miss will be the memories.

Ultimately, what he and I were really discussing was how exactly we were chasing travel ghosts.

As travelers, we’ve many great memories. Occasionally, we are fortunate to have life changing moments on the highway. That point and place where anything is magical and perfect and the people just go together like yin and yang. They are the moments we wish could last forever.

And the places always appear to pull us back again to them.

I’ve had those beautiful moments- my first stay static in Amsterdam, surviving in Ko Lipe for per month, and lately, hanging out on Ios. In every three of these moments, I came across paradise. I came across locations I still remember vividly in my own mind but still pull me towards them irrespective of where I am on the globe.

Most of all though, I came across people I linked to and will stick with me for life.

But like everything, these moments come to a finish and most of us move to different places and various lives, though each securing to that little bit of paradise.

We live these memories inside our minds often. They are prominent memories inside our lives. Whenever I meet folks from those times, we always reminisce about how exactly great and life changing these experiences were. I sometimes stay static in touch with these folks more than I really do my friends from childhood. I visit them, they visit me, I head to their weddings.

We discuss heading back to those places. Reliving those moments. After leaving Ios, I couldn’t wait to return. “Next year!” my pal Jill and I said, “we are back.” After Ko Lipe, I usually tried to come back but could never quite make it.

Maybe it’s fate.

I understand deep down I won’t get back to Ios. And I’ll never go back to Ko Lipe. And I only go back to Amsterdam but through the years, I’ve spent so enough time there, I’ve something of a life there.

But by heading back to Ios or Ko Lipe or La Tomatina in Spain, all I’d be doing is chasing the ghosts of travel past.

I’d be chasing memories. The locations I visited didn’t matter. It had been the people I was with that mattered. As the places were great, the memories I made were with the people.

It had been together that the magic was made.

I’ve refused to return to the island of Ko Lipe because I knew it could never end up like before. A pal of mine did return back the next season and said it wasn’t the same. She lamented the development, the people — everything just didn’t feel right. She hasn’t been back since. Like so many, she too went chasing ghosts and came up empty handed.

Whether we go make an effort to relive places like Ios or Ko Lipe or return to hostels we enjoyed the very first time, we are simply just chasing ghosts. I really like visiting cities again and again. I really like Amsterdam, Thailand, Italy, and countless destinations.

But heading back again to relive moments rather than explore places deeper is merely chasing days gone by. We’re trying to capture that initial feeling just like a drug addict chasing his first high. But we are able to never get that back. Because we are able to never get the people back.

Next year, I’ll be back Europe. Next year, I would maintain Greece.

But unless my friends go back to Ios, I won’t be there again. I’d simply be chasing ghosts and disappointment when I’d rather be chasing new experiences.

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Chasing the Ghosts of Travel Past: A FITNESS in Failure