8 mins

The moments that get you hooked on travel

Travel is a drug. Peter Moore explains how he got hooked

Small Nambas

I can remember when it was for me. It was when I met the chief of the Big Nambas tribe on Malekula in Vanuatu. It wasn’t because this guy was standing there with nothing on except a red cloth wrapped around his penis. Or that on the other side of the island there was a tribe called the Small Nambas who believed in using a lot less red cloth. It was the fact that there was stuff like this still going on in the world, just a couple of hours from home.

I guess I realised that the world was a weird and wonderful place and I wanted to see as much of it as I could.

After that it was the little human moments that kept me hooked. Playing chess with the locals at a tiny homestay in Bali while my (soon to be ex-) girlfriend stewed back in our room because I wasn't paying her enough attention. Listening to Galliano on the rooftop of a mudbrick hotel in Lamu as lateen-sailed dhows floated past in the channel below. Being shown how to clean my teeth with a twig by fellow passengers on top of a truck in Sudan.

Now I'm always on the look out for my next fix.

I asked members of myWanderlust what got them hooked on travel.

Ttkbo said she couldn't remember a time when she wasn't dreaming of, or planning, a trip to somewhere.

'The purchase of the Children's Encyclopedia Britannica by my parents was clearly pivotal,' she says. 'I can remember sitting on the window seats in our front room devouring every word about places such as the Amalfi Coast, Mount Pinatubo, Knossos, Persepolis, and Kamchatka.'

It was a book of a different kind that triggered the wanderlust within Louiseheal.

'We were driving to Thurso when my Dad was working up at Dounreay. It was 1971 and I was reading the Born Free books. By the time I'd finished (in tears and slightly car-sick), I wanted to go to Africa.'

Ehalford didn't get bitten by the bug until four years after she started work.

'My colleagues encouraged me to book a conservation trip to South Africa,' she explains. 'The moment the travel bug bit was on a shark diving trip when a small Great White leapt out of the water in a perfect arc. Right in front of us. Unbelievable.'

Two days after getting back from the trip she was in her manager's office: 'I don't suppose I could go to Barcelona in a couple of weeks could I? ...'

It was photographs of distant climes that got Dave Williams hooked. First it was a fuzzy picture of people having Christmas dinner on Bondi beach. Then it was a slideshow of his geography teacher's summer holiday climbing Kilimanjaro.

'Just the name of the mountain hooked me,' he says. 'Travel had me at Kili!'

Geography teachers, it seems, have a lot to answer for. Bilbo Baggins adored geography at school and lapped up foreign languages. 'Not just for the language,' he explains, 'but also because I got to learn about the countries too.'

At 17 Bilbo persuaded a girlfriend to hitch hike around Europe.

'We had the most amazing, mad trip. By the time we reached the Greek Islands and Istanbul and I was completely hooked!'

For others it was globetrotting relatives who introduced them to the heady world of travel.

'My Nan was a bit of nomad,' says Calamine 2808. 'She sent postcards from all over the world - Zimbabwe, Alaska, Kuala Lumpur - and spent 6 months on a river boat in India. I followed her travels in the family atlas and proudly announced to my parents, aged about 8, that I wanted to be an Explorer when I grew up.'

Abbeyheat says she comes from a very long line of people born with itchy feet. She blames a trip with her mother to Hong Kong when she was nine for making hers restless.

'I ate chicken's feet,' she explains. 'The rest, as they say, is history.'

Eli Fry claims her addiction is hereditary too. Various relatives on both sides fled to Borneo, India, Rhodesia, Australia and Canada in the 30s. A tribal chief in Borneo was very impressed with her tiny, 4'10" Great-Aunt's snow white hair.

'I was also obsessed with a recorded video of Realm of the Russian Bear which my Grandma had,' she says. 'Kamchatka fascinated me even as a four year old!'

Andy Morris's desire to travel was first stirred by the flags and photos in an old atlas he was given when he was 5. But it was his grandfather's tales of being posted to India during the war that really fired his imagination.

'He regaled me with his tales of truck-driving trips from Delhi to Bangalore and the run-up to Indian independence. All those places seemed so remote.'

Finally, a tale from the indomitable Fintown Trekker. It was a Catholic school excursion to Rome that got him hooked.

'I will never forget the overnight on the train from Holyhead to London Euston or two nights later roaming the carriages of the train from Paris to Rome,' he says. 'We had no couchettes booked and no hotels. We stayed in accommodations arranged by the school Brothers in Order houses and lapped up the pomp and glory of a beatification ceremony for one the Brothers in St Peters Square.'

For a 13-year-old boy, who didn't have a TV at home and had never been out of the country before it was a heady mix.

'To see an ancient Pope sending a fella on his way to sainthood was just mind boggling … the bug had really taken hold.... '

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From the myWanderlust forum: "I think I was born hooked. Apparently as a baby I screamed non stop until I could walk. Then, once I could walk and explore, I was fine. As a child I enjoyed the type of freedom kids today just don't seem to have. In school holidays we'd go out after breakfast and not return till it was dark, having roamed miles on foot and by bus and train." - LS13

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