Tam Warner Minton loves to travel, and she wants you to travel, too. Read more from Tam on her blog.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett
Yesterday I wanted to meet a friend for lunch, but my car was in the shop. I called Uber and was quickly picked up by a friendly and delightful driver from Guinea, Africa. We began to talk about Guinea’s location, and he was overjoyed when he discovered that I had actually traveled to Africa and visited several countries there. A story emerged which highlighted, perfectly, why we should all travel.
The driver worked on the morning of his daughter’s wedding, and he drove that day in the suit he was going to wear at the event. One of his clients asked him who it was that taught him how to put on a suit. You have to admit, that is a rather odd question. (The inference being, of course, that someone “civilized” had to have explained to him how to wear a suit). The driver, who speaks clear English and has been in the USA for almost 30 years, admitted he was very angry about it. People in America, he said, do not travel often enough, and have no idea about the cultures of other places. I agreed.
Since my discussion with him, I have done a little research, and yes, it is true that the vast majority of Americans have never traveled out of the country. I have had people tell me they are not interested in going to other places because America is the “best”. I’m not going to argue about patriotism, but my question is, how do you know? If you have never been to another country, how can you know what is “best”? And does everything have to be rated as good, better and best? Can’t it just be different? I realize that not everyone wants to travel, but there is no question that it provides invaluable experiences and insight to the traveler and to the people the traveler knows or meets. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” I agree, St Augustine, I agree.
Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is, well, comforting, but it does not give you the opportunity to stretch yourself or to grow. When you step out into new surroundings you achieve something new…instead of stagnating you are in motion, and you are learning about the world around you. (Your comfort zone really does not exist, you know. It is simply a comforting illusion.)
Traveling can help you conquer your fears. Afraid of water? Go to the beach, or a lake. Afraid of heights? Climb a hill, or better yet, go to a vista point at the nearest national park. Fear is paralyzing…so get up and move. If not now, when?
Travel shows you a new world! It gets you out of a routine and makes you use your brain, your ears, and your eyes. When traveling there is so much that has to be taken in…new sights, new flavors, new noises. It takes your complete attention…you are no longer on “auto-pilot.
Travel introduces you to different cultures and new perspectives. The culture you live in isn’t the only one on the planet, you know! Ever thought about doing volunteer travel, especially abroad? These trips are not expensive, and you usually get all of your meals plus a place to stay. Airfare is reasonable to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and many other places from the US. Volunteer travels can be eye opening and have a major impact on your life by showing you how others live, think, and do things. Volunteer Tourism is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. There are trips for every taste, be it teaching children or scuba diving for research or digging wells or teaching skills to help people make a living. There are many ways to make a difference.
Traveling can be a little scary, and that is probably the best reason to do it. We fear what we do not understand. Travel educates. It challenges us to learn about ourselves, to learn the cultures of other countries, and understanding is the path to knowledge, and hopefully, wisdom.
I have some favorite volunteer travel agents and agencies such as All Out Africa, Kaya Responsible Travel, the Giving Lens (a great volunteer program for photographers), Marine Megafauna Ray of Hope Expeditions, Mission Blue….there are just so many opportunities! Get on Google and Google to get away! Seeing the world will make a difference not only in your life…but in the lives of others.