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Written By:
Jithin

"I'm a Passionate Traveller" Are you though?!

Published on
September 1, 2021

One of the most repeated phrases while going through the scholarship applications was in the line to show how passionate you all are towards travelling.

Yes, as travel lovers, we all have said at some point or the other, that we are passionate about travel and this phrase is getting popular day after day.

"I am a passionate traveller"

"I am a passionate traveller" has almost become a catchphrase that we toss around without even thinking twice.

Well, have you ever thought what exactly are you saying? What is the actual meaning of one of the favourite phrases of yours?! If not, join us on this journey where we dissect to find the literal meaning of 'passionate traveller'!

What is Passion

To understand passion a little bit deeper, let's take a short trip to one of India's neighboring countries, Sri Lanka. We are taking this imaginary trip to the fishing village of Negombo in Sri Lanka to see Passion Play.

You might wonder what Passion Play is, if you are not aware. Is it a bunch of people playing with a lot of passion? Is it a play about passion? What could it be?

If you hear the other name of Passion Play, things will become slightly self explanatory.

According to wikipedia: Passion Play or Easter pageant is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death.

Sri Lanka still has this tradition of presenting Passion Plays on stage for more than 300 years. Negombo is the main city still preserving this form of traditional drama annually on Good Fridays. But what is more interesting to us in the above statement is the definition of passion where it says Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death.

On a similar note, some of you just might have remembered about the Mel Gibson movie with a similar name, 'The Passion of the Christ'.

From these examples, we can see that Passion is somehow connected with suffering, quite contrary to what we use now to say 'I am a passionate traveller'.

Etymology of Passion

To understand why passion is all of a sudden 'unfairly' connected with the word suffering, we have to take another journey through the history of words.

If you go after the history of the word passion to find out the root words, we will end up in the Latin word 'passio', which in turn is derived from the verb 'patior', with the root, 'pat'- all of which pointing to the meaning 'SUFFERING'.

When the word and its root mean suffering, how did we start to use the word 'passion' more loosely to convey about our love towards things?

In fact, passion always meant suffering, but a few twists and turns were introduced over a period of time through various literature and gradually passion received a slight make over. The 'suffering' part was kind of lost in the translation and Passion started to equate more towards 'Love'.

Nowadays passion for us is 'a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept'.

Though the real meaning of passion is the one that includes 'suffering'!

So it is safe to say that Passion is the Willingness to Suffer for what you Love, just like this short article suggests.

Now that, we have understood what passion means, lets check if you are still passionate about travelling.

What is Travel

We know that in the next heartbeat you would say, "For travelling I am willing to suffer, because I love travel"! We can totally understand that. But before agreeing on that, let's have another look at travelling, this time literally!

If you look up the meaning of 'Travel', even Cambridge or Merriam-Webster will tell you a similar story. The first or major meaning they will tell you is something like 'to make a journey, usually over a long distance'.

After knowing the journey behind the word passion, some of you might be intuitively thinking that the journey of 'travel' must also be twisted! If you were thinking that, you are right!

The journey of 'Travel' is more treacherous than you think!

The term 'travel' originates from the Middle English word 'travailen' which comes from the Old French word 'travailler' or 'travail'. And guess what, 'Travail' is still a word used in English and it means "work especially of a painful or laborious nature".

We know that travelling can be a toiling act at times. But things were even more difficult a few centuries ago, when they started using this word to represent a treacherous journey.

Treacherous journey of 'Travel'

Language researchers believe that it was in the 13th century the word 'travail' was used in English and almost a century later that word gave birth to the word 'travel'.

Interestingly during these time, the various forms of the word 'travel' were used to represent torment! But things will become even more interesting if we start looking about the history even further and figure out how travail become synonymous to torment.

Etymologists believe that 'travail' comes from a Latin word 'trepalium', an instrument of torture and according to popular belief 'trepalium' or 'Tripalium' is a three legged torturing device used in the ancient times!

From trepalium came the verb travailler, which originally meant "to torment". This Anglo-French noun travail was introduced into English in the 13th century which later became travel.

Trepalium >>Travailler >>Travail >> Travel

Also don't forget "TRIP" in this scenario!

Provided the conditions in the 13th and 14th century, long distance travel was indeed a laborious task and it made perfect sense to correlate it with torment. But over centuries, through various authors and their literature, the word 'travel' acquired a milder meaning and it simply became going from places to places just like how travel has actually became easier and more accessible.

Are you a Passionate Traveller?

Even though the circumstances have improved drastically and travel is no longer a treacherous activity, if you are journeying to seek, journeying to experience a distant land in its rawest form or to explore the less explored in its realest senses, travel can still be a travailing task.

Not everyone who calls themselves a traveller might be able to cope with those treacherous conditions a raw travel experience can bring.

That is when you have to ask, are you willing to suffer for a toiling travel experience? Are you willing to undergo hardships, lack of sleep, lack of good food, lack of comforts to go to some random place? Are you willing to suffer for what you love? Are you a passionate traveller?


Let us know in the comments, if you have enjoyed journeying through the interesting past of 'passion' and 'travel'. If your state of mind is that of Shoshin, that of a beginner's mind, you might come across many such interesting things. If you know more such things, please feel free to share with us. Also tell us if you are a passionate traveller!

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