For my generation, travel is what sex was to the teenagers of the 60s. We think we invented it. We ignore the evidence that people have been at it for centuries and in an array of inventive positions using balloons and elephants.
With the downturn nixing dinner party chat about house prices, it's all about where you've been, what wise man you met and, preferably, what terrible privations you suffered. Not for us the sedan-chair and opium-hopped journeys of the Victorians - once we've landed we're keen to start the pain, loading our in-flight hangover with journeys in overcrowded buses stuffed with farm animals.
The need to do things as our parents wouldn't have is part of the urge to make travel our own. Nothing is too shocking. The mainstreamisation of Dita Von Teese and handcuffs on sale in Anne Summers are forcing us to greater and greater acts of imagination and booking the next holiday is no longer a matter of the nearest and sunniest, it has to be an experience and one which as few people as possible have had.
The accepted wisdom is that our soft warm lives are making us seek out more challenging experiences when we're outside the cubicle to compensate and there is an element of that. We share the curiosity of previous generations, but can see foreign lands and their amusingly-clothed residents on the telly. When we visit, we now need to make connections deeper than a coach tour to a glass factory and, as clowns will tell you, the fastest way to do that is to scare the crap out of someone.
So next week I'll be going to France, but not for the wine, raw steak or delightful Socialism. Although France and I have a long, deep relationship, and I'll never get bored of those nice strawberry tarts, it's time to take it to the next level and do something that would disturb or even repel the ancestors.
I will instead be attempting to climb Mont Blanc. Admittedly not the Touching the Void way, I hope, but there will still be axes and crampons and I'm facing it with a lot more trepidation than I would Malaga. I don't have a death wish - I'm wary taking wet stairs in heels - but the thrill of a possible view over a whole swath of Europe, which I walked myself to, is going to keep me awake the night before my Easyjet flight.
If you want to make holiday memories that last these days you have to commit. And be prepared to bend over.
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