Hello all! I hope everyone is having a great week! This week’s edition of Wanderlust Wednesday is all about Why I Travel. I have people ask me this at least once a month, “Why do you travel?” or “Why do you spend so much money on travel?” It’s kind-of a strange question the first couple of times you hear it because I think people who have a passion for travel automatically think Why NOT travel?
I started traveling at four years old when my parents took me to Disney Land. It was the first trip that they took me on, and even though I don’t remember it very well, I do remember all of the other road trips my parents took me on. I grew up with parents who also love to travel, and I was very fortunate that they had the means to take my brother and I on amazing trips to see beautiful National Parks in all different regions of the US, and when I was eleven I left the country for the first time when we road tripped to Niagara Falls and went through Ontario, Canada.
Then, my freshman year my parents graciously sent me to France, and I fell even further in love with travel. I had started taking French that year and fell in love with the language, and was eager to attempt to speak French to as many people as possible. I couldn’t wait to eat things I had never tried before and wanted to learn more about other cultural differences and I loved making connections with people through our similarities.
Since that trip I’ve been to Mexico, back to Canada, journeyed to Greece and have been fortunate to travel to Italy twice, and every time I go I fall more in love with travel…. but still the question remains why?
Travel, to me, is the best form of education that anyone can experience. I have learned more about myself and grown more as a person during travel experiences than anything else. You attain a sense of confidence when you break a language barrier, find your way around a city that would be insanely confusing back home, and it is also a hands on experience in culture, history, art, food and anything else you can think of. I’ve learned more about nature and wildlife from rangers or naturalists at national and state parks. You get to see and experience things you’ve read about in books or seen on TV or in movies. I love to learn about other people’s cultures, language and history and I think the more we learn about others, the more we realize how similar we all really are. There’s something humbling about being able to sit with strangers and have them share something beautiful and unique to them and their culture with you. Whether it’s a meal, someone telling you a story, an offering of advice or correcting your attempt at their language. You learn a little more every time you step outside of your door.
The question of money is one that always baffles me. People as me all the time how I afford trips or why I “waste” money on travel. First of all, I find it offensive when people tell me travel is a “waste of money”! I think that just because people have taste on what is worth spending money on, it doesn’t make it less important or frivolous. For instance if I got a 200 dollar bonus, I would put it away for a trip, while someone else might go on a shopping spree, or buy a new TV. It’s just a preference. That’s also how I can afford these trips, because I have a hand-me-down TV from the 90’s that still works perfectly, and my couch was my great-grandma’s that she purchased in the late 50’s. I buy used books, I cook my meals at home, I clip coupons, and I save my money well. I’m not saying that I don’t splurge on things, but I don’t do it often, and that’s how I can afford to travel.
While I was writing this I began to wonder if people who also love to travel do it for the same reasons and I asked a couple of people and thought I would also share their responses:
My mother said:
“Internationally, I like to see new things, to see things I’ve read about since I was a little girl, to see things that have been standing for centuries, to stand in and touch things that have been around since before Christ was born. I like seeing different cultures; how people live. I love learning that I don’t have to intimidated by cultures that seem different to me because they’re really not all that different. With the United States I prefer the natural parks and the outdoors. I like to see different landscapes and animals- not in the zoo. I love to see how the country changes as you drive through it.”
My cousin said:
“I like seeing the way people live. Major landmarks are cool, but I like being a part of the day to day. How people unwind for the night, etc. Culture fascinates me.”
My dad said:
“To get away from home. To see things. To get behind the wheel and not knowing what you’re going to see around the next corner. To see the rocks, mountains and streams that go on forever, and ever. To watch how things change when you’re driving… From seeing sunflowers to mountains. It changes from one moment to the next. You can get away from everything, and spend time with family.”
My friend Stacey who just got back from living in Florence for the semester said:
“I travel to experience a culture different from my own. I love to see the beauty and history of the world. Meeting new people, tasting local food, and exploring a world outside my own is what excites me about traveling.”
My friend Hannah, who went on her first international trip in 2011, said:
“I guess I just feel like a lot of people would kill to have the chance to travel, and I don’t want to take advantage of the fact that I not only have time, but money to. I don’t think we realize how different other societies and cultures are, and to see that in person isn’t even comparable to reading it in a book or watching a movie. It’s easy to take advantage of the things we have here, until you see how other people around the world live. And even little things like buildings and food and art, you don’t realize how beautiful it is until you’re there. It’s such a culture shock. I didn’t realize when I went to Greece how much it was going to change the way I looked at life, and now I can’t wait to keep traveling and experience more!”
I was really inspired by the things the people close to me had to say about why they travel. We all said really similar things, and we all crave more. What do you guys think? Why do yo travel? What are other people’s reactions to you travels?