No Keys

When you get on the road for long enough and start to become a serious traveler, you eventually notice that you’re missing something. It may take you a while for notice. At first, you may have a queasy feeling that you’re forgetting something important, like perhaps your bags or your passport.

And then it hits you. You’re a man with no keys. You have no car keys, no appartment keys, no letter box keys, no office keys, no garage opener, no access cards. You don’t have to worry about losing them, forgetting them, getting them stolen. You’re a free man. Keyless.

By the way, do you know the difference between a tourist and a traveler? A tourist doesn’t know where he is and a traveler doesn’t know where he’s going.

No matter how far a tourist goes, it’s the same place. If it’s Tuesday, it must be Luxor. It doesn’t really matter because he goes to the same Hard Rock Cafe and McDonald’d and Pizza Hut. The sights change, the local waitresses don’t understand him as well, but he’s basically always in the same place. He never really left. He has a schedule and he sticks to it. He’s in a momentary state of geographic displacement.

A traveler may have a vague schedule, but he knows he won’t stick to it. Things will happen. Ferries will be missed, planes will be canceled, buses will break down, passports will get lost. The hut on the beach will beacon to stay a few more days, the friends on the road will share tips about a detour not to be missed, a taxi driver will share a secret about a little village where the rest of his family lives.

It’s fine to be a tourist. Sometimes, that’s all you have time for, and it’s better than staying home. But it’s really nice not to have to worry about your keys.

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