Travel is incredibly important to Jared and me, but I sometimes wonder if people get tired of hearing us talk about it.
Why can’t we stop talking about it? The places we’ve been, the places we want to go, the places we’ve read about, all-the-places. I love travel. I crave travel. I cannot imagine my life without it. We arrange our lives around travel. We asked to Army to sends us to Korea, because we wanted to travel. I am baffled by people who don’t share this desire to see the world. Why is it so important to us?
- It opens your mind. My world expands each time I travel. My opinions shift; my prejudices fade or sharpen. I appreciate the differences in the world much more acutely now. I’ve stood before a Buddha, and I have seen the devotion of Spanish Catholics in preparation for Semana Santa. I’ve laughed with people whose language I don’t speak, and I’ve raged about people who I can completely understand. I’ve questioned why America doesn’t embrace mass transit, and had long conversations about the beauty of our interstate system. My beliefs and ideas are challenged each time we travel, and because of this I am a better person.
- It’s the best education. I learned about Pol Pot from our taxi driver. I learned about Spain’s King Juan Carlos from a tour guide. I learned to make Tom Kha Gai from a kind woman in Thailand. And I’ve learned a lot about ancient history from Jared as we tour ruins, battlefields, and museums. These lessons stick in my mind better than any class in school. Can you truly know about a culture if you haven’t tasted its food or spoken with the locals?
- It’s humbling. Nothing reminds me of how small I am more than traveling. Sunrises, night skies, sharp cliffs, smooth waters, Gothic cathedrals, and bamboo huts; my eyes (and my camera) can’t get enough. SCUBA diving with baby barracuda reminded me of how nothing is more beautiful than the natural world. Cambodia reminded me that I am blessed to have always had shoes on my feet and fresh water. The fortresses in Turkey remind me of just how old civilization is, and that I am just a blip in this story. My problems will be forgotten and are truly insignificant in the scheme of things. Forget ego-boosting and self-importance, nothing is so wonderful as knowing that I am just a small piece of the puzzle.
- It makes us independent. Not necessarily independent of each other, because I rely highly on Jared’s navigation skills, calmness, and planning prowess when traveling. However, when the luxuries of daily life disappear, you learn pretty quickly how to take care of yourself. I am a pro at hunting down pharmacies, and Jared can master foreign transport incredibly quickly. There is no one with us telling us exactly where to go, how to deal with people, or what that food is on your plate. You figure it out on your own. Or you don’t, and you deal with it.
- It makes us appreciate now. There are no guarantees in life. All we have is now. We didn’t want to wait until retirement or after our children (that don’t exist yet) are grown to travel. Who knows what our lives will be like then? We have no idea what our future holds. I have this fear that waiting might tempt fate, and we would never travel. We have now; we have each other, we have the world waiting for us.
Perhaps one might think we travel because we are unsettled with our daily life. The opposite happens; I appreciate my home and life infinitely more because I travel. Without travel, I’d feel restless, like I were wasting my life. We’ve arranged our life around travel, around exploring the world. And we have no regrets.