What is so appealing about travel? I have been pondering this question for quite a while. As most of you know by now, I love to travel, and there are few places I don’t want to visit. I love history, art, architecture, and experiencing other cultures; that’s part of the reason I love to travel. But there are so many other reasons. To explore this question in depth, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on travel. Here’s what they have to say.
My husband, Terry has traveled all over the globe for work and pleasure. Here are his thoughts on travel:
“What I like about travel is immersion, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before. I may get tired while traveling, yet never tired of traveling. It all comes down to three things; cafes, where I connect with the locals, cathedrals, where I am inspired, and sketching, where I capture the moment while creating a memory.”
My beautiful, talented daughter is an amazing writer. She was editor-in-chief of her college newspaper and provided some editing comments for this article. She shared this quote about travel:
“Maya Angelou said ‘Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends’. Nothing has been so influential in my life as the travel I have been lucky enough to experience. It’s so easy to assume that your way, your life, your understanding is the ‘right’ or ‘good’ way. But the world itself, in all her variance and splendor, with the multitude of cultures and religions and beliefs and food and customs, shows us that variety creates beauty, differences create truth, and empathy soothes all wounds. By traveling, I find myself a small part of a much greater world, which provides perspective, and reminds me that I am not alone. The world is vast and her people are vaster still, but by traveling, I’ve come to understand the simple expectation of life: to try. To question, to listen, to embrace the differences that would other divide us. Each time I travel, no matter how far from home the journey may be, I find myself changed and that makes the layovers and the airport food and the crowds and the queues immeasurably worth it.”
Brenda, my dear friend from childhood has this to say:
“Travel ranks at the top of my loves for many reasons. I’ve always been a person who loves change, and as a result, I get bored easily. When we travel, I am flooded with sensory overload. My eyes, nose, ears and mouth can hardly take in all that’s new. I have never felt bored when traveling. My love for photography blends right in with travel as I attempt to capture all the feelings and beauty my soul takes in.”
“I love travel because I can see how others live, work and play. People watching is a big part of my travel and it’s the best experience if I can connect with people on our journey. To stay in a stranger’s home using a popular travel stay app or just talking to a server at a restaurant or clerk in a gift shop; gives me the opportunity to learn more about our destination and gives us an advantage when following their suggested itinerary. We have completely changed our itinerary many times just based on a native’s knowledge and recommendations and were thankful in the end.”
“I think the best part of travel is how it has changed me. I grew up in the Midwest, a Baptist preacher’s daughter, and my exposure was very limited when it came to understanding different cultures, races and lifestyles. I was so naive. Today I can say I embrace the chance to meet and rub shoulders with ALL people and try to see through their eyes, the life they live. It has been a humbling experience for this white, privileged woman, and I hope that I am making progress in my effort to bring acceptance and connection with those I meet. Travel gives me lots of practice. When we are connected, the world becomes much smaller and my circle of friends becomes much bigger. To me, that makes the world a much better place and I hope that as I take something from each place I visit, I will also leave something good behind.”
50 states, 23 countries and counting!
I have a delightful new friend, Dr. Shirley Riley, here is what she has to say:
“Why do I love to travel? I’m not sure I have a great answer because it’s just always been my life, having grown up in a military family and starting Kindergarten in Germany. I think I’d somehow feel cheated if we didn’t travel as it adds color and dimension to what would otherwise be black and white predictable. It’s like if you’re in a long hallway lined with doors and not only didn’t bother opening any of them but didn’t have the interest in doing so to find out what’s behind that door…?! I don’t want to live a life that is just going down that long hallway from beginning to end; I like opening those doors.”
Another dear friend, Lisa Baker shared this:
“Traveling to Bangkok in the 1980s was a seminal experience. Back then my beliefs about God were rigid and Western, but on this trip I was introduced to a nation of incredibly kind people who were devoutly Buddhist. The city was large, vibrant, and not yet modernized – a noisy, chaotic, and colorful hodgepodge. Visible displays of Buddhism were everywhere — monks in saffron robes, altars in public spaces where fruit and burning incense were left as offerings, miniature shrines in the yards of homes. My beliefs at the time would have consigned them (albeit reluctantly) to hell. But faced with their unfailing warmth, generosity, and friendliness, I could not reconcile my beliefs with what I saw in those people. The warmth and generosity of the Thai – and their deep devotion to a religion different than mine – fundamentally transformed and vastly expanded my recognition of God.”
“On a late night in Rome — tired, lost, tugging my wheeled suitcase a considerable distance from the train station to a hard-to-find hotel, and irritated with my partner for wanting to walk to the hotel rather than hiring a taxi — I rounded a corner — and KAPOW! Immediately in front of me, encased in glass and brilliantly lit was the Ara Pacis, an ancient structure built to honor Augustus, familiar to me from my college studies. Startled by the sight — stunned actually — I was no longer frustrated, hungry, and exhausted, but instead on my way to relaxing into a week of pressing my palms and forehead against ancient architecture I had seen only in photographs and deeply breathing in the age-old air.”
And one more, from another dear friend, Tim McLaughlin:
“I am attuned to the rhythms, the seasons, the language, foods, cultural habits of my own neighborhood. When I travel to another neighborhood – across my state, across my country, across an ocean – it’s those same, but different, aspects I can’t help but continue sensing, absorbing.”
“And relishing, precisely because it’s so different. Buildings and bridges and fences of stone rather than of wood or steel…dishes with tripe and blood and curry instead of tri-tip and mayo and Mrs. Dash.”
“I love to travel for the differences among peoples whose humanity I’m part of.”
I love these thoughts and insights, and one thing we all agree on is that travel is a gift, one that we cherish and use often.
Two years ago we took a five week trip to Europe. About a week before we left, I was listening to the radio on the way to work one morning. The topic of the show was “what is your trip of a lifetime?” Most callers were mentioning places like Australia, Greece, and The Maldives. One young person called in and the DJ said “Hello, you’re on the air, what is your trip of a lifetime?” The caller replied loudly and enthusiastically: “L.A.!!” I’m sure most listeners were laughing as I was, since here in Seattle you can get a round trip ticket to LA for a few hundred dollars and be there in two hours. Many people referred to our European adventure as “the trip of a lifetime”, but for us it wasn’t. Yes, it was a fantastic trip, but we have plans to spend much more time traveling. What it comes down to for me, and for my husband and favorite traveling partner, is that we want a lifetime of trips rather than one trip of a lifetime.
As I am finishing this article, I am waiting at SeaTac International Airport to board a flight to Narita. We are going to Tokyo to attend the wedding of a young woman who lived with us as an exchange student some years ago. Our daughter and son-in-law will also be in Tokyo for the wedding and I’m looking forward to seeing Tokyo from their perspective. From Tokyo, we will be going to Seoul to visit our niece and her family. I have been anxiously awaiting this trip; I love Japan and am looking forward to visiting again. Seoul will be a new experience for us, one that I am eagerly anticipating. The culture, food, climate, and many other factors we will experience there will take us out of our comfort zone, and hopefully leave us with a little more humanity, understanding and appreciation for the people and their homeland. I am grateful to be able to have this experience.
Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
It’s time to board the flight to Japan, I’m ready for another adventure.