As someone who has always had a great love of traveling (though this urge was sparked the most passionately when I studied abroad in Italy and has continued to grow ever since), this past weekend while in Salzburg, I was giving this topic some thought. Why is traveling so great? (Because many people would argue that it isn’t. Too costly, stressful to plan and execute, seeing a new town isn’t particularly thrilling to some, etc.). And why might traveling be an important aspect of human life?
After pondering this during my scenic train ride from Austria back to Germany, I decided that I believe traveling is always worthwhile, and always something to be excited about for the following reasons:
1. The anticipation
Traveling is something that is filled with anticipation. From the very moment you decide to take a trip in the first place (the beginning of the climax), the internet searches, friend recommendations and leafing through books while considering where your destination will be. Then the thrill of actually booking the trip and being able to say that “Yes! Now it’s actually happening. And on such-and-such date!” Followed by the exciting research and making plans regarding what constitutes as your must-sees, must-eats and must-dos while there. Then the process of counting down the months, weeks and finally days to your actual date of departure, and even the adrenaline-inducing taking off of the plane from the runway and lifting into the air, or the train pulling away from the station and moving you towards your destination. ALL of this is: anticipation. Which = GREAT fun!
2. Seeing and experiencing a new place (city, town, countryside, island, you name it)
I know some people feel differently and do not think this is anything to write home about. I disagree. I think each new place is exciting and absolutely something to write home about (and tell stories about, and take photographs of, etc.). There are landmarks you haven’t seen before that offer awe, beauty and surprise. There are different people to scope out, whether just enjoying the art and silliness of people-watching at a distance or getting a bit closer and actually meeting some of the locals. Different cultures and ways of life can be witnessed, and experienced through visiting different places. So many wildly different destinations offer valuable and varied visual and other sensory experiences. From riding a Gondola down the watery back alleyways in Venice, to gazing awe-struck at the larger than life Pyramids in Egypt, going scuba diving among the tropical fish in Hawaii, hiking through the still untouched-by-time brightly colored villages of the Cinque Terre, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle each hour on top of the hour, taking a riverboat cruise down the Amazon River and looking into the jungle to see Toucans and other tropical creatures nestled in the trees, hiking the breathtaking peaks up into the clouds and seeing the long abandoned ruins of the Machu Picchu. All of these destinations offer unique landscapes, experiences and as a result, memories and stories. All things you will love to recount to loved ones, old friends and new friends again and again.
3. Outstanding experiences
You know, the magical dinner with the stunning view and mouth-watering food that came out just right, the conversation flows just so and hence, it becomes one of your favorite memories. Or the night out filled with just the right amount of drinks (not to excess), silliness, connecting with the person/people you are there with and loads of laughter. Or the adventure of hiking along craggy cliffs with astounding views of the blue Ligurian Sea below you. I could continue to go on. But you know the nature of the memories I am describing. These are the moments that make up why we travel. Those magical travel moments that really take your breath away. Traveling is living to the max for a specific, isolated period of time. Fantastic.
They are fun to pose for and snap, wonderful memory-joggers to look back on later, great tools to use in trying to give those a taste of the experience you had when telling them your travel stories. A tangible, touchable form of the memories and experiences you had, making it possible to partially share them with others.
5. Entertaining stories
Travel arms you with fantastic and interesting life stories to share with others as well as to treasure for yourself within your heart, filling up the memory box that stores all the experiences of your life. These stories add richness, background and wonder to your own life story.
6. Meeting new people while traveling
Not always a given, but often when it does happen, this can add depth and joy to the trip you are on. Especially if they are locals and can help give you a less touristy and more authentic experience of the place you are visiting.
7. The sense of bringing you emotionally closer to whomever you are traveling with
A bonding of sorts. Because of navigating through this shared experience together and then, the shared memories you both have.
Much learning takes place with every trip we take, in all sorts of different forms, in all the different ways I described above. Traveling also teaches us: open-mindedness, learning to fend for oneself when problems or challenges arise, resourcefulness, learning to go with the flow, discovery (of oneself and of the world) and finally, self-confidence.