It's not necessarily a bad thing. Just because you become addicted, it doesn't make it wrong.
But still, this is real. There are certain activities that travellers engage in that they become obsessed with. We're not talking your everyday, run-of-the-mill passion here – we're talking full-blown infatuation. We're talking addiction.
Travellers, beware: if you decide to get into any of the following sports or activities, there's every chance that your entire travelling life from this point on – your budget, your choice of destination, your travel buddies – will all revolve around this one obsession.
Call it what you want: hiking, bushwalking, tramping, whatever. It's still something people tend to become obsessed with. Travel for these people isn't about planes, trains and automobiles – it's about getting around on two feet. These aren't just gentle strolls through the city, either. These are multi-day hikes through mountains and valleys; they're guided journeys through the world's most spectacular lands. If you own hiking boots, a Goretex jacket and a set of those retractable pole thingys, there's every chance you're part of the group.
This isn't exactly a sport. I'm not sure you could even call it a pastime. But still, eating is an obsession that some travellers tend to take to ridiculous levels. You think it's just a passing interest, but all of a sudden you realise you're only planning holidays to places that have good food; you're arranging your days not around the best museums or the most famous sites, but around where the good restaurants are; your Instagram is filled with #foodporn shots instead of family and friends; you have to go clothes shopping while you're away so you can still fit into some jeans.
Outwardly, scuba divers don't seem the most insanely obsessed people. They're gentle souls, usually, the types who would prefer the wonder of 45 minutes spent gliding deep beneath the surface of the ocean to, I don't know, dancing at a beach rave. Get chatting to a diver, however, and you'll soon realise that they can't remember the last time they booked a holiday that doesn't include some serious time underwater. Forget cities. Forget deserts. For these guys it's caves, it's coral, it's wrecks and it's reef.
This is not something that's limited to travellers. You only have to attempt to get a seat at your local café on a Saturday morning and find yourself confronted by more Lycra than an '80s music video to know that cycling is popular. Those who love it, however, also tend to include a good pedal in their travel plans. Whether it's a group cycling tour around South-East Asia or a climb up for Col du Tourmalet in pursuit of the Tour de France peleton, cyclists never like to be too far away from their bike. And their Lycra.
I've seen this happen to a few friends recently. They've gone from having no interest in skiing whatsoever, to now making sure every holiday they take has some sort of on-snow element involved. The sport is like that. It'll sap your money in expensive resort towns; it'll drive you mad with its variable weather conditions; it'll stop you from experiencing all the beautiful warm parts of the world – but you won't care. Once you're a skier or a snowboarder, that's what you do. On every holiday.
You see them out there, sometimes in groups, sometimes alone, in their professional gear, on their fancy bikes, experiencing the world on two wheels. For a motorbike rider, there's no better way to travel than aboard a trusty motorised steed. Whether it's a simple ride up into the Blue Mountains or a trans-continental mega-adventure, motorbikers tend to organise their holidays to include a good stint on the road. Recently, I've found myself in a subset of the motorbike obsessives: the scooter obsessives. It's just like motorbiking, only slower. Give it a go some time.
Surfers have no idea that landlocked countries even exist. They haven't bothered visiting one since they first learned to catch a wave. Once people get into surfing, their travel plans always seem to include the activity. They're heading to surf resorts in Indonesia; they're planning to hit Cloudbreak in Fiji; they're carting gear up and down the coast of Brazil. It doesn't matter that surfboards are about the most impractical things to travel with that you could ever imagine – surfers always need to get their fix.
As a recent convert to the boating set – well, I've got a licence, but not a boat, so I'm halfway there – I'm beginning to understand the appeal of seeing the world from the water. There's a sense of freedom that comes with boating; a thrill of adventure. That's why people buy boats and you never see them again. It starts with a few weekends here and there, and then a week-long journey to test the waters, and pretty soon they've turned into those crusty seadogs who'll rarely set foot on dry land again. Sounds like a pretty good life to me.
Which travel pastimes have you become obsessed with? Which activity do you plan your holidays around?