For a lot of people, the word travel elicits images of beautiful sandy beaches, luxurious cruise ships, and iconic landmarks. Travel is a luxury but I believe it is one that we should all have the opportunity to enjoy. I see it as an integral part of human development that, in an ideal world, would begin in childhood. You don’t necessarily need a lot of money to do it (depending on your travel preferences of course) and there are umpteen different types of experiences out there that await you. Travel is much more than just picking a pretty place to have fun and relax. It is about expanding your perceptions, your understanding, and your consciousness.
My observation is that happy humans are ones that try new things, seek out new experiences, and want more adventure. They don’t have time to get bored with life or to get sucked down by the weight of their responsibilities. We all have duties and responsibilities that aren’t exactly fun, right? I personally have to work, pay bills, clean house, etc. I do all of that knowing that, in my not too distant future, I have another trip to look forward to……new cultures to explore, new food to try, new music to dance to. Some of my trips are international, more of them are domestic. It doesn’t matter how far you go or if your intended destination is wildly exotic. All that matters is that you go and you live! It is what makes life interesting!
Learn Something New
I am a firm believer that if you aren’t learning, you aren’t really living. I have always loved the learning experience so I take every opportunity possible and I encourage it every chance I get. Travel is, in my opinion, the BEST time to learn something new. Our brains are designed to continually expand, grow, develop, and integrate more knowledge. It doesn’t have to be book knowledge either. Learning a new language or even a traditional dance can be absolutely exhilarating and fulfilling! I love to learn about local wines and the wine making process that gives each wine its individuality. Whatever interest you or anything you are curious about……go out there and pop some new brain cells! Just get out there and learn something!
New Perspective and Understanding
One of the great things I experience during my travels is gaining a new perspective. For instance, I was in Paris a couple of years ago and my daughter and I were staying in Old Paris near a large outdoor market. After walking through that market several times, purchasing edibles each day for our entire stay and talking to the locals, I began to understand that many Parisians view food quite differently than I do. It is why you don’t find fast food restaurants on every corner as you do here in the United States. After talking to the locals, I discovered that they have a real appreciation for fresh food. Of course, that was a couple of years ago and I hear that things are changing a tad. Nevertheless, I came away with a greater understanding of food quality and it made me think about the food I put into my body.
Living in the United States, it seems some of us are all too wrapped up in the trivial things. Not everyone of course but I see way too many people worried about designer shoes and bags, smart phones, and trying really hard to look like something they are not. All it took was one visit to a rather poor country for me to realize how ridiculously fortunate I am. Don’t get me wrong…..I have always known I was blessed but it really brought things to a crystal clear consciousness.
Several years ago we were in Honduras on a bus tour driving through a small village that appeared to have just one road going through it. Every house we passed had a clothes line and it really intrigued my daughter. I remember explaining to her why they used clothes lines instead of dryers and then it occurred to me. I don’t think she had seen one before that trip. I think we both came away with a new sense of appreciation for the little things and for the amazing life we are able to live.
One of THE best parts of traveling is meeting other people. Not just all people either but people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Amazing Cuban artists, Greek drivers that told us amazing stories about their country, Jamaican dancers that entertained me beyond words….all people that I would not be likely to meet here at home. I am still surprised by how much American pop music is played all over the world. I won’t lie that hearing ‘80s pop makes me the happiest too.
Even more interesting is hearing how they view Americans and the questions they ask. Being from Texas, I always give a little chuckle when someone mentions the Dallas Cowboys (it happens a lot too). You will be glad to know that never has anyone had a completely negative opinion of Americans. There are aspects that concern some of them (gun control for example) but I am always interested and glad to hear their questions.
No matter your reasons for traveling, I hope you get more than just a trip out of it. I think that every experience has the potential to shape us and change us in ways that wouldn’t have happened if we stayed home. All we have to do is to open our eyes and our minds to the things that are in front of us but not always in our view.