I love to travel, and I’m not the only one. But why? What’s so great about travel anyway?
The first part of travel is the actual traveling. The actual moving from point A to point B. When people talk about loving to travel, I think they usually mean *being* in an unusual place, as opposed to *traveling to* (and from) another place.
The actual traveling itself can be a challenge. It can be frustrating to deal with schedules and delays. Not always, of course. You might decide to enjoy yourself on the journey, whatever may happen on the way. Or the journey itself might be the reward.
The other part of travel is the actual act of being in an unusual or unfamiliar place. What is so interesting about that?
You may be visiting a beautiful location — seeing something you can’t see at home. A beach, or a rain forest, or a snowy mountain, or a river. You may be visiting somewhere that’s a more comfortable temperature — somewhere warmer in winter, or colder in summer.
You may be exploring a different culture. A place that’s richer, or a place that’s poorer. Perhaps a place that has quite different cultural norms from what you’re accustomed to.
You may be going TO – to visit someone in their environment. You may simply be getting AWAY. Away from emails and phone calls, away from obligations.
What is the common thread running through all those experiences? I think it’s that traveling takes you out of your comfort zone. You experience different stimuli — sights, sounds, smells and tastes you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. The plugs are different there, the fire hydrants are yellow, people drive on the other side of the road.
These differences, whatever they are, large and small, cause you to stop and look around. Instead of ignoring what’s going on all around you, like you might do at home, you’re paying attention to the little details. Instead of worry about whatever you normally worry about, you’re actively taking in the scene, and you have less time to worry. You’re just enjoying life. Not necessarily because where you are visiting is *better* than home, but just because it’s different.
Do you really need to travel to have this kind of experience? With a bit of practice, I think you can elicit a similar experience at home, without traveling at all. Notice what’s going on around you in more detail than you usually would. Try not to get distracted in your own thoughts, and instead focus on the stimuli at hand, the things you have become accustomed to and have started to ignore.
I try to do that when I’m in my usual environment. Why not enjoy your normal space. Sometimes, though, it’s just plain fun to travel, and dive right into a new, unfamilar experience.
- “4 Reasons traveling is a waste of time” by Penelope Trunk
- “How to Stay Calm While Traveling” on this blog