“I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket,” warbled Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A horrid little so-and-so she was, and yet she spoke my language.
The language, that is, of one who knows it is simply not enough to have journeyed to 56, 82, or even 114 countries in a lifetime. There are 196 of them in the world, and until they have all been scoured, the greedy traveller refuses to rest.
Case in point: I might have just spent eight months travelling the length and breadth of India, skipping through temples, ashrams and monuments with the speed of a competitor in the Amazing Race. But I want to go back. I want to go back now.
Not to any of the places I fell in love with, of course, I simply don’t have time for that now. Not when I have all these other places I heard about while whizzing around the country to get through: to meet the Buddhists in Bodh Gaya (or just take a pic of them, who has 10 minutes for a meet and greet when there’s so much to see?), to explore the Andaman Islands (preferably in a jet boat to save time) and to camp in the desert in Jaisalmer (I actually detest camping but a stranger I met had done it and now I have to do it too). For the sin of covetousness dictates that one must look forward, not back, covering more ground, seeing more monuments, having more adventures than anyone else, well, ever. The greedy traveller has boxes to tick, gazillions of them, and never enough time in which to tick them.
Avaricious travellers are, by their very nature, excessive, and are therefore truly in their element in the bazaar and the marketplace. They can most often be spotted – freshly purchased suitcase in one hand, gleaming Amex in the other – having a bit of a stall trawl, reaching, grasping, haggling mercilessly for exotic treasures. And, as we all know, greed has no limits… and no shame.
“A coin necklace for $30? Pfft! I’ll give you $30 for five,” I heard myself utter at a particularly low point last year. Not that I needed five, or wanted five. Not that I would even be able to fit five in my already-bulging suitcase. But one is never, ever enough for the greedy. And besides, we travel Hoovers are the ultimate masters of self-deception. I told myself I’d bought those five coin necklaces for friends back home.
Yet here they sit upon my neck, the entire quintet all at once – mine, all mine – and a slightly shameful reminder of the greedy traveller’s most wicked trait: their inherent inability to share with others.
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THREE TIPS FOR THE GREEDY TRAVELLER
Bring a few suitcases – preferably empty with expandable zips and a few dozen space bags stuffed inside – to maximise the amount of booty you can lug home.
The hop-on hop-off bus tour is your friend. What better way is there of ticking off an entire city in less than one hour?
Consider cutting that fifth credit card in two. Bankruptcy can be so embarrassing.