I love to travel. Always have and, I hope, always will. I have my parents to thank for it, and for my love of trying new things. (I guess the two go hand in hand, really. How can you enjoy travel, which by its very definition means leaving the familiar, if you don't like dealing with new surroundings and different customs?)
I had the chance to go to many places when I was a kid and it changed the way I think of the world even at an early age. Talk about supplemental education!
Travel* does many wonderful things for us as people.
It offers a reminder that:
- We, as individuals, and as a nation, are a very small part of a very big world.
- Many of us are lucky to live the way we live and to have the chance to travel and explore our world.
- We should be grateful for what we have at home. Coming home is to rediscover how wonderful it truly is. We appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, every amenity we have access to and what we like most about where we live.
- Not everyone thinks the same way. There is wild variation in world views and culture in general. And, it's not something that we should fear but instead embrace.
- Not everyone lives the same way (culture, language, customs, food, surroundings).
- Time feels different when you're out of your routine. It seems to slow. It seems more real.
- We know very little and need to keep that in mind when we think of our role on the planet and about our stewardship of it.
- According to other cultures & races, we're not "all that and a bag of chips". Every ethnicity or nation feels they are the best in the world. And why shouldn't they? Identity is a huge part of how we define ourselves and our self worth.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit 15 countries so far (soon to be 18 once I return from my African Safari). Among the most interesting destinations, I would include Okinawa, Beijing, San Diego, Montréal, Saba, Milan, Big Sky, Flin Flon, the Grand Canyon and the Black Hill of South Dakota. (Here's a list of all my travels, past, planned and "on the wish list", if you're curious.)
Travel is truly eye-opening for all the reasons mentioned above and it also offers the benefit of providing us with great memories and, often, produces life-changing events.
By amending our perspective, travel changes us. We're forever altered, if only a little bit, after every trip.
Travel has made me more tolerant, adventurous, curious and humble, one destination at a time. For that, more than anything else, I'm truly grateful.
If travel is not in the cards for you at this point, these books from Peter Menzel offer a taste of what one can discover:
They are rich with pictures and information about families around the world, offering a contrast between our reality and that of others around the world.
For fun, here are a few pictures from some of our travels in the last few years.
I wish you many pleasant travels to memorable destinations both close to and far from home. Earth is a truly fascinating and beautiful place.
Where have you been? What impact did it have on you? Where do you want to go?
*I should specify that I mean "real" travel. Travel that exposes us to how others really live, not travel that herds you from one destination to another in such a way that you get no sense of what it might be like to live in a given area of the world. I'm not a fan of cruises because, though people can say they've been somewhere, have they really been if they had no opportunity to explore a location and, instead spent their time at the local Señor Frog's or Margaritaville?
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