Hodophile- being bitten by the travel bug?

Satyakam Ray

Leading a non-happening mundane corporate life, stuck in the exams, or bored by the usual daily events in households- everybody needs the quintessential road trip once in a while. Not only the body but the soul also needs rest and rejuvenation. An unplanned road trip is a must for all purposes, the zeal to lead a hedonist lifestyle or precisely kick-starting the already-sleeping curiosity within to explore life. Hodophile means who loves traveling by road. The hodophile is generally curiosity-driven by nature and makes life exciting and worth living by constant traveling.

Nitty-gritty of Hodophile:

The instinct to globe-trotting or master storytelling started with the advent of the hodophile. Whether a solo or group road trip requires a certain level of adventure-seeking, according to the famous author Paulo Coelho, if you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal. That is very apt, considering how the soul is burned slowly in pursuing a regular 9 to 5 money-making job.

Traveler and legendary historian Ibn Battuta agrees with the argument when he says, “traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” 

The countryside road trip depicts the warmth of friendly people, the natural scenery, the general lifestyle of rural people, and many unforgettable encounters with strangers making the traveler’s subconscious more receptive to new ideas and filling up the heart with gratitude, love, and inspiration.

Not surprisingly, many Bollywood and Hollywood movies are based on road trips. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, shot along a road trip in Spain, subtly captures a hodophile’s true essence. 

Being homesick for an unknown place, one has never been called fernweh (a German word). Similarly, the Swedish term Resfeber refers to a traveler’s restlessness before the journey begins. Whether the traveler is feeling fernweh or Resfeber, he’s got bitten by the travel bug or pangs of hodophile. 

The hodophile often involves the unplanned hasty destination or itinerary selection, the mode of transport (bike or car), and the arrangement of necessary travel items like clothing, food, etc. Road trips with friends make the experience worth memorable. Roadside tea stalls, highway dhabas, and small makeshift hotels allure weary, exhausted travelers like the light attract the moths. Here, travelers spend some refreshing break time energizing their zeal to explore the other road ahead. The hodophile often takes an unknown route and breaks away from the touristic itinerary. Most of the time, it results in seeing many exciting florae, the fauna of the jungle, or meeting unassuming people in remote locations of the world. One should be careful also as it exposes the hodophile to the uncertainty of getting harmed. 

Hodophile- In India and abroad?

In developed countries, hodophile plays a significant role in the lifestyle of citizens. The weekends are spent on the vagary road trips around natural ecosystems or famous trails. In the US, in the year 2019, traveler spending totaled $1.1 trillion: $278.9B for food services, $242.3B for lodging, $210.8B for public transportation, $169.7B for auto transportation, $117.8B for recreation, and $107.3B for retail- according to US Travel Association. Most households look forward to spending quality time with family or friends during these road trips. Demographically speaking, the baby boomers (aged 55+) spend more on such road trips than millennials or gen-z. The eagerness to live a shackle-free life often makes the boomers more carefree in the US.

Whereas in India, the road trips are limited only to the young mass- college-going kids or carefree corporate honchos. Still, some seniors are coming forward to relive life’s charm when they are younger. The trio- Robin Nakai, his wife Amrita, and their friend Usha, who are in their 60s- during March 2021 traveled around 4500 kilometers by road trip during the angst of the pandemic! Quite exciting. Riddley Scott’s classic Thelma & Louise has a great line: “sometimes all you need is a great friend and a tank of gas.” The trio took the line very seriously. Hodophile is not limited to the young genre only, as shown in the Tata Mahindra ad “we live young, we live free”- catchy lines, though – but it gives the message to remain young in heart.

Helping local employment?

These solo traveling or closed group rides boost tourism in rural areas. These eccentric travelers discover even previously unknown trails. They have to break the rules to follow their hearts. Small hotels, beverage shops, and general store shops emerge in small remote locations, and local people get employment as transport service providers, lodge owners, and tourist guides. The Himalayan scenic places got many tourist guides or taxi drivers from the local community. The traveling bug-bitten wanderlusts are privileged to seek and get help from these nicest and most humble people. Many adventure-seeking platforms have sprouted up on the internet that provides service in hiking, trekking, night stays on safaris, and so on to adrenaline seekers. But the fun of being a hodophile surpasses the excitement of all other activities- many argue. 

Is the Female hodophile safe?

Female solo travelers often get mixed responses from family, friends, and strangers at the advent of the journey. But in the end, the journey matters most than the destination. Of course, the safety angle should be, prioritized, and a freelance travel writer/documentary maker can be a hodophile for a living. Award-winning blogger Shivya Nath is an example of a new trending career choice. Indian households should learn the importance of road trips and go on such trips occasionally. 

Conclusion:

The essence of a hodophile lies in seeking happiness and solitude amongst the chaos we live in today. Whether driving along the marine drive in Mumbai, spotting tiger trails in Odisha, or driving around aimlessly with many friends, all the events are inspired by hodophiles. Once in a while, let loose and be wanderlust. What else can go wrong, or who going to judge you? Just pack your bags, keep the tank full and drive!


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