How travel makes you more attractive

It’s true, travel really does make you smarter,
sexier and more interesting – and it’s not just about the

Allstar Picture Library

Jean Dujardin as OSS 117
charms all of Rio with his travel anecdotes


Travel gives you stories and stories
are sexy.
Of course the extent of the sexiness depends on
what the stories are about and how you tell them. But simply having
them is a start. Most of us have practically nothing to say, let
alone proper joined-up stories to tell. Even the very well
travelled, I find, can’t get enough of hearing and telling stories
of far-away places and peoples. There’s something of an
early-man-around-the-campfire quality to this behaviour, the
expression of a basic human impulse to sit down together and share
news from elsewhere. Naturally, the more unfamiliar, dangerous and
glamorous the news is, the better. A tetchy Sunday afternoon outing
to Homebase scores low; a life-threatening but ultimately
triumphant ascent of the north face of the Eiger scores much
higher. That said, all travel stories, however humble, are worth
telling, and, if told with sufficient verve, humour and
exaggeration, they will make you sexier.


Does travel make you a better
A bit less ignorant, a bit more tolerant, a bit more
fully realised as a human being? I have my doubts. If airmiles
alone could make you good, then Donald Rumsfeld would be the Dalai
Lama. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t wish to deny that such a possibility
exists; and if it does, well, surely that would be sexy too.


An unseasonal suntan is
But the inner glow of a happy, healthy person
who has lately been somewhere awesome and seen amazing things and
done incredibly cool stuff is even more attractive. 


There are those who find war
scar tissue, limps, eye patches and other evidence
of physical harm strangely exciting, particularly if the harm was
endured in foreign parts and has healed nicely. Usually such
injuries will have a good story to go with them. And I really can’t
stress enough how sexy a good story can be.  


Envy is sometimes though not
always a powerful agent of desire. It’s that old ‘women want to be
with him, men want to be like him’ thing – a balancing act. The
trick, I suspect, from the traveller’s point of view, is to know
your audience and to pitch your stories accordingly. Alas, this
rapidly becomes socially coded and horribly complicated. Dropping
words like ‘Gstaad’ or ‘St Barths’ into a conversation is like
choosing to wear red corduroy trousers and tasselled loafers – a
calculated risk. It will alienate as many people as it impresses.
But if you’re brave enough to navigate the social minefields of
Gstaad or St Barths – perhaps even while wearing your red cords and
loafers – then you can probably survive being called ‘Fucking
tosser’ as well.


Forget oysters, scarab beetles
or rhino horn. A few mispronounced words or mangled phrases in a
foreign language are among the most potent aphrodisiacs known to
humankind. I always saw a profound commitment to realism in those
moments in The Addams Family when Gomez, having heard
Morticia say something perfectly innocent like ‘savoir faire’ or
‘ensemble’, would drop everything and rush to her side and
frantically kiss one of her long, slender arms from wrist to
shoulder, exclaiming: ‘Tish! Tish! I just love it when you speak
French to me!’  


The above scenarios concern
the recently returned traveller – the charm of the sunkissed
wayfarer back down from the mountain with her tales of adventure
and a new light in her eyes. But it’s worth remembering that,
however dull and familiar you may be when you’re at home, you’re
automatically exotic when you’re away. Just being yourself
somewhere else can make you sexy.


One reason why people like
hearing travel stories so much is because such stories give them
hope and encourage them to dream. Maybe, you think, I could do that
too. Go to those places. Cast off the shackles, lose myself for a
while, reconnect, be astounded… Well, of course you can. And just
think of all the great stories you’ll have to tell when you get

Steve King is our Editor-at-Large

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