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Why Do We Travel?

Why do we travel – “To Travel is to Live” Hans Christian Anderson

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Barruta

People travel for many reasons. For a significant number, travel primarily centers on
sojourns to family and friends. This normally involves airplane, train or car travel to
a specific frequently visited location – the yearly trip to see relatives for the Holidays.
Some travel to celebrate a special occasion – like a birthday, honeymoon or
anniversary. Such trips are usually defined with a stay in an exclusive hotel, spa or resort
in an exotic locale.

Travel provides a logical bridge or break at various life stages – job transitions,
school completion, termination of a relationship, or when parents experience the “empty
nest syndrome.” And business people travel for meetings, conventions, conferences
and deal-making.

But, what about travel . . . just for the sake of travel.

Travel is an impressive instructor that educates while being thought provoking, imparting knowledge while being fun and entertaining and encourages exploration and discovery.

Travel has the ability to empower, transform and change us. “I read; I travel; I become.” Derek Walcot
It can make us more social, confident, smarter, adaptable, self-assured, evolved, happier and less materialistic. Travel poses the perfect “ice-breaker” or conversation topic at parties or gatherings. It is fun and enjoyable as well as being one of life’s most enriching and satisfying experiences. With travel, we find new ways to discover “who we are” and this in turn affects the way we relate to others.

Perhaps more important, it opens our eyes and gives us a new world perspective. Travel can elicit empathy for other; as well as humility when we realize what a small place we occupy in the whole world order.

While this list may not be exhaustive, it is fairly comprehensive. I invite you to add your own reasons and motivations for travel. “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Anonymous

We travel . . .

• because it’s time and because we can – “Oh the places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss The “time” may be a life transition point like retirement which enables us to embark upon that “once in a life-time trip.” Others go “because we can” incorporating travel into their overall life plan.

• to see the world – “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag There’s interest and curiosity to see new places, different cultures and people. We formulate wish lists of top destinations we’d like to visit and happily place pins on a map depicting locations we’ve traveled. We engage people at parties about our recent adventures and share their stories as well.

• to be awed, inspired and to delight the senses – “You will travel in a land of marvels.” Jules Verne
Stand in awe at the breathtaking sights of Ayers Rock in Australia, Bryce
Canyon, Utah, Victoria Falls, viewed from Zambia or Zimbabwe, or the natural
light display in the sky – The Aurora Borealis. Be inspired by the Great Wall of
China, the Acropolis of Athens, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the pyramids of
Egypt, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, or the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Delight
the senses with the smells and the noises of the souks in Morocco. Try a Belgian
favorite of Mussels and fries in a Brussels restaurant. Taste sea snails served cold
with Mayonnaise in Normandy France to wake the palate.

• to make dreams come true – “The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” Anna Quindlen
There’s that special place you have always wanted to see . . .

• to educate and to learn – “Travel is the new diploma.” Keith Bellows
Travel gives us first hand information and knowledge about history, economics,
politics, geography, culture and sociology and advances our educational
horizons outside the classroom.

• to develop new traits and skills or learn a new language – “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Travel builds and enhances inner traits of self reliance, confidence, sociability,
patience and independence. It also affords us opportunities to acquire new or hone
skills in such activities as skiing, surfing, golf, tennis, parasailing and boating to
name a few. If given time to immerse in a culture, we can study and learn a
new language.

• to discover – “Not all those who wonder are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Travel uncovers and presents a vision of the world and in turn allows us new ways
to reveal and learn who we are. Travel goes beyond what has been studied in
textbooks and listened to at lectures, as it provides a first hand accounting of
history, culture, antiquities, ruins, people, art and customs.

• to experience – “Travel, in the younger sort, is part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” Francis Bacon
Our knowledge and experiences remain with us long after many other concrete
possessions fade. What would make a memorable experience for you?
What have you always wanted to do – dive the Great Barrier Reef, cruise the
Amazon, see the penguins on the Falkland Islands . . .

• to seek adventure – “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller
Travel teases and coaxes our desire for exploration. Where we go, how we travel, what we see, what we do – is part of our unique adventure.

• to share- “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” Tim Cahill Traveling with others – spouse, partner, children, extended family or friends – can be enhancing and enjoyable. It adds new dimensions and dynamics. Patience, flexibility and compromise become key factors when traveling with others.

• to create memories and to bring back items to remember our journeys-
“Take only memories leave only footprints.” Chief Seattle
Memories are preserved throughout our lives. The souvenirs we collect on our
travels, regardless of price, are some of our most cherished possessions. A mere
glance at an object or item can trigger a flood of fond memories.

• to meet new people and develop new relationships – “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” Charles Kuralt
Airplanes, cruises, tours, trains, restaurants, hotels and sightseeing present perfect
opportunities and occasions to meet different people. New associations can
develop that live long past the end of the trip.

• to challenge ourselves – “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose site of the shore.” Andre Gide
Travel commands challenge. When you go to a foreign country you must defy
your fears and concerns as you try to speak or understand the language, check into
a hotel, order food in a restaurant, use foreign currency or just get around the

• to move outside our comfort zone – “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” Dalai Lama
If all the potential difficulties were known before the trip, some of us would not go
at all. But travel begs the quest to get outside that safe zone and face fears of
the unknown.

• to broaden the mind and open our eyes – “Travel and change of place impart new vigor of the mind.” Seneca
Travel expands our knowledge base and provides us with a new way of viewing
things. It makes us more well-rounded individuals. There’s no end to the
adventures we may take in this astonishing and amazing world – if we see them
with our eyes wide open.

• to live life – “We travel not escape life but for life not to escape us.” Anonymous
We are not guaranteed advancement to old age. All we have is today. Enjoy! Have fun! Down with the ordinary – up with the extraordinary!

• to gain important perspectives – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain
Travel can be the great neutralizer. Leave your judgments at home – be open to
trying new food, understanding different customs and religions, meeting the
people, exploring the sights – and return with new insights and better
understanding of the country you visited.

• to get to know ourselves – “To travel is to take a journey into yourself.”
Danny Kaye
Travel helps us learn who we are and provides us with ways to discover more
about ourselves. We return from a destination with a new way of seeing the
world and reacquainting ourselves with life.

“Travel is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Saint Augustine

On one side, travel nourishes the mind, body and soul while on the other side, it thrusts us past boundaries, limits and expectations. In spite of all the global turmoil, the world is still a beautiful place packed with awe-inspiring beauty and majestic landscapes, captivating people and cultures, prominent landmarks, entrancing cities and towns, stark expanses of wilderness, breathtaking oceans, magnificent creatures on the land, in the air and beneath the seas – to be discovered for those who embrace travel. It’s never too late to start the travel stories of your life.