The Crossed Wires of Traveling

(ESL learners – click on the bolded words to see explanations and notes. Try the exercise at the bottom after! 🙂 )


Everywhere we look, everyone wants to travel. Billboards advertise smiling families slipping down a water slide in an amusement park underneath a cloudless sky. The internet is practically bursting with travel bloggers, influencers, ambassadors, you name it – and Instagram with photos of everything imaginable from palm trees and beach umbrellas to snowy mountains and ski resorts. 

It kind of feels like travel is slowly becoming everyone’s dream — or obsession. And it’s certainly becoming more attainable. New low-budget airlines pop up every day, the internet is teeming with travel guide articles, and there is absolutely no shortage of interesting destinations, whether they’re in the middle of nowhere or a stone’s throw away

Somewhere along the line, however, I think we got our wires crossed. For some people, travel is no longer even about discovering new places, meeting new people, or learning about new cultures. Sometimes it seems like it’s more about the fame, the prestige, the jealousy-invoking postcards and the frantic photo-snapping, with your camera shutter working a mile a minute

When did this happen? Could it be that travel has become so trendy that we book our flights, set off, and then in our fervor to share the total blast we’re having on every nook and cranny of the internet, we start to lose sight of what it really means to us, personally, to travel? 

The things listed above result from modern travel, and come with modern travel, but if you ask me, they should not be the purpose of travel. We don’t need a ton of likes to find a place beautiful. We don’t need to make all our friends jealous to have a good time. We don’t need to wear the latest trends or have perfect hair or makeup to take photos, but most of all we don’t need to watch life through a camera lens to make lasting memories. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying people shouldn’t travel, or travel lavishly, or post about it on social media, or that the above is true for everyone. But I believe that in some cases, (and this is not just related to travel), people have lost a crucial intermediary step: thinking about what really matters, and doing things with a purpose.


ESL notes (17 words/expressions):

Exercise below! 🙂

bursting with: to “burst” means to suddenly break open or apart. If the internet is “bursting with” travel bloggers, it means that it is so full of travel bloggers, that it might break open, in the same way that if you fill a balloon with too much air, the balloon will burst. “bursting with” essentially means “very full of”. (Back to the text)

you name it: this is an expression which is used when you want to say a very large number of choices are available. For example, if you have an enormous movie collection, and a guest comes to your house to watch a movie with you, you could say to them, “What do you want to watch? I have it all — Pulp Fiction, The Bodyguard, Casablanca, Old Yeller… you name it!”. This is usually used only in conversational English. (Back to the text)

attainable: achievable, realistic. (Back to the text)

pop up: in this case, pop up means to be created. (Back to the text)

is teeming with: this is another way to say “extremely full of”. For example, on New Years Eve, Times Square in New York is teeming with people. (Back to the text)

no shortage of: a “shortage” is when there is not enough of something. It’s the opposite of “excess” or “too much of something”. Therefore, “no shortage of interesting destinations” means that there’s lots and lots of interesting destinations. (Back to the text)

a stone’s throw away: a short distance away. (Back to the text)

somewhere along the line: at some moment. (Back to the text)

get your wires crossed: to be confused, or when there is a misunderstanding. In my context, it means to become confused. Here’s an example for having a misunderstanding: “Somehow we got our wires crossed because I had written the 23rd in my calendar for our appointment, and Jen had written the 16th.” (Back to the text)

snap a photo: this is another (informal) way to say take a photo. (Back to the text)

a mile a minute: very fast. (Back to the text)

set off: This is a phrasal verb which in this case means to start on a trip (phrasal verbs often have several meanings, and this one has too! But here let’s just focus on this meaning to keep things simple). (Back to the text)

have a blast: have a really fun time. Blast literally means explosion. (Back to the text)

every nook and cranny: every part of a place. If you lose your keys and search every nook and cranny in your house looking for them, you have searched every single place in your house, even the smallest and most hard-to-reach places. (Back to the text)

come with: here, “come with” is a phrasal verb. It means to exist together. Another example is that being a manager of a multinational company comes with a lot of stress. (Back to the text)

lasting: lasting memories are memories that will exist for a long time. (Back to the text)

lavishly: in a way that is expensive or impressive. For example, at the Oscar awards, most actors and actresses dress lavishly. (Back to the text)


EXERCISES

Want to practice these new words? Try thinking about these questions or writing down some answers to them using the words! 🙂

  • Can you think of a time when you or someone else was bursting with pride? (=extremely full of pride, that is, extremely proud). Often, people burst with pride when they or their child graduates school, when they get a good grade or pass an exam, when they get a promotion, when they win a medal or award, etc.
  • Think about a store in your city that has a particularly large selection of products. Try to make a sentence like the following: “Chapters is a bookstore which sells every kind of book you could possibly imagine. Fiction, biographies, comics, travel guides, cookbooks, romance, mystery… you name it!”
  • Do you believe that all your goals are attainable? What kind of goals do you think are not attainable?
  • Have any new businesses (cafes, stores, restaurants, bars…) popped up in your neighborhood recently?
  • Is there a particular day or period of time when the streets of your city are teeming with people? (for example, during a festival, or on the weekends, etc.)
  • Do you know anybody who has no shortage of energy? (=lots and lots of energy). What about someone who has no shortage of ambition?
  • What can you find a stone’s throw away from where you live? (any businesses? a cafe, a bank, a post office, the train station, the university, the library…)
  • Think about a change that happened or a realization you came to and the context of it, and make a sentence using “somewhere along the line“. For example: “Jonathan and I started as really good friends in school, and then somewhere along the line we fell in love”.
  • Did you and a friend ever miss an appointment you had because you got your wires crossed about the date or time?
  • Do you like to snap photos during your normal day-to-day life? What do you usually snap photos of? (your food, the sky, flowers, etc..)
  • Do you have any friends who talk so fast, they talk a mile a minute?
  • Do you ever feel nervous or scared right before you set off on a trip? What was the earliest you ever set off? (3am, 4am…?)
  • Describe the last time you remember having blast.
  • Have you ever searched every nook and cranny of your house, looking for a lost object? If yes, what was it? If not, what might make you do it?
  • What do you think are some downsides that come with being famous? (for example, loss of privacy. Try to think of some others!)
  • In your opinion, what makes a memory lasting?
  • Can you think of any companies that spend lavishly on advertising? Do you know anyone who decorates lavishly for Christmas or other holidays?

Thank you for reading! These ESL notes, links and exercises each take several hours to make, so if you found this useful, the kindest thing you can do is to like the post, leave a comment, or share with anyone who needs it. Have questions about any other words? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to reply! 🙂

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