THE SHORT ANSWER
Simple and here’s the short answer: it’s fun and I really like experiencing other cultures. Now how fun is the picture above? It’s at Tanah Lot in Bali and these kids wanted to be in a picture with me.
THE LONGER ANSWER
Here’s the longer answer and I’ll explain some benefits to traveling:
Passion: I’m the type of person who, when I see a National Geographic, Discovery, Travel Channel show or any video on travel or another culture (context could be travel or social justice), I’m immediately drawn and often get chills down my spine. I get that irresistible itch to be out there in the world. So, traveling is a passion. I’m one of the lucky ones. I actually have a passion. I know too many people who haven’t truly discovered a passion. They have interests and preferences but not passion. If you have passion, consider yourself lucky–or blessed–too. So, a true passion is reason number one for traveling.
Then, a host of other benefits, which keep me coming back for more, present themselves when traveling.
Other-centered: Most people, including me, live in a bubble. We go to work, sometimes hang out after work with friends, spend weekends doing chores or “catching up” or something very ordinary. There’s nothing wrong with that: stability and consistency are fantastic. I’m actually more of a homebody than someone who needs to be out and about constantly. However, I like to wear my garment a little more loosely and like to get out of my usual bubble and routine, which, I believe, keep me focused on myself or my little world. When I traveled to Cebu, Philippines, and visited the downtown area around Cebu’s City Hall and Magellan’s Cross, I looked around the outskirts of the neighborhood and saw how dilapidated buildings and streets were. And, though I’ve been Cambodia where poverty and scarcity are rampant, as well as the outskirts of Beijing, it really hit me how lucky and blessed I was. How many times have you heard the saying, “finish your food. There are starving kids in China?”
Traveling makes you aware of your own fortunate circumstances–and the challenging and scarce conditions in which other people around the world live. It changes your perspective about your own life. It gives you gratitude. And, at least for me, experiencing other cultures has given me a sense of a larger picture of humanity, whereby my orientation revolves less and less around me (less about shopping and cars, etc.) and doing what I can, in any small way, to make a difference in other people’s lives. I’m a little idealistic; it’s been true for me, however.
Now down to practical benefits…
Speaking Up: I was one of those students in college who dropped speech class numerous times and took lower grades in other classes because I was afraid to do any public speaking. Well, when you’ve had lengthy discussions with international airline representatives who misperceive your abilities, when you’ve negotiated transportation costs with cab drivers who deliberately haven’t turned on their meters or don’t have meters, when you’ve had to push drunken Czechs away at metro stations while you’re trying to eat a food stand and so on, you learn to speak up. Then you learn to speak louder. Then you learn to ask for what you want and be persistent. This skill spills over to other areas of your life.
That’s what’s up.
Interesting People & Friends: Simply put, you meet people. Fellow travelers, locals, etc. I was drinking coffee and eating a pastry outside Paneria in Prague off Wenceslas Square and a Czech guy came up to me and asked to hang out. I was of course a bit alarmed but he said, “You have interesting. I never see people like you” in his brand of English. I’ve met people in Frankfurt, Germany, Bali, etc. and we’re connected via social networks.
Able to Adjust: So I like to research the hell out of places before I go, so I know the streets, layout, etc. That’s why I put a City Layout section in each destination guide. When I travel, I’m on a time clock in a sense because “reporting” on destinations takes a lot of work. However, I’m able to adjust when I get lost, when things happen.
Change and the unexpected happen. Just life. These experiences of adjusting and adapting flow into other areas in my life. Like I said earlier, you just have to wear life like a loose garment and go with the flow, especially, if you’re like me, you like to be in control. Traveling’s not for control freaks. However, if you are one and you travel AND you like the travel experience, it’ll change you. Relax and enjoy.