Why do we travel?
On a searing July morning earlier this year, me, Ruby, my brother, and two other friends, drove through a stunning mountain road in North Carolina called the Blue Ridge Parkway. We climbed higher and higher and saw some incredible sights of the Pisgah National Forest as well as the Smoky Mountains on the horizon. It was humbling to stand there in the middle of such simple beauty and dare I say it was a morning that I will remember for a long time.
Later that same day, on the same Blue Ridge Parkway, I attempted to reverse our rental car (I was the only one inside at the time) from an awkward park job (mine) on the very edge of the road. The attempt failed miserably. I turned the wheels too wide and as I reversed, the front of the car spun out to the side and hung in the air, with only a tangle of trees, bushes, and a stream below me. I was extremely lucky that nearby tourists had a truck and some tools to pull me out before I toppled into the stream. You can view my precarious situation below and, yes, I was sweating bullets and not because of the July heat.
“Life is a coloring book, and travel is the color that fills it out.”
Both of these moments happened on the same day: one was pure joy, the other a mix of comedy and horror. And yet they reflect the marvelous thing about travel, in that you experience the very fullness of life, not just the outer edges. Me and Ruby lead a very comfortable life in Florida, a life that many people in the world would probably not mind having, but we continue to seek out adventures and experiences because we feel that life is a coloring book that you’ve been given, and travel is the color that fills it out.
Why We Travel
One of the great things about travel is that it will make you very, very uncomfortable, and sometimes pissed off and anxious. It sounds strange, but it’s really not. It’s been said before, on this blog and elsewhere, but there is no better way to get to know a person than to watch how they react when they’ve been standing in the airport security line for an hour, and a mass of angry humanity swirls around them. Or when you have to wake up at 4 in the morning to rush to the airport. Today’s sleek travel shows don’t show any of this, preferring to show a heavily sanitized (in my view, a bit boring) version of what traveling is about. They show the sunset over a beautiful Greek island, but they don’t show the sweat and tears that went into seeing that sunset when, in fact, the sweat and the tears are as much part of the travel experience as seeing that sunset.
I have a firm belief that if you’re a new couple, the worst possible thing you can do is go on a cruise or all inclusive resort. The reason is because you will get pampered from beginning to finish on those types of vacations, and won’t experience a whole lot of discomfort (unless you encounter rocky seas on the cruise and you both get sick; that will be a good test). Discomfort peels back a person’s personality layer. When that layer is peeled back, you will see that person in a true light.
Of course, despite the fact that we both love to travel, we understand that we have full-time jobs and responsibilities and we don’t neglect that part of life. There are many ways to be fulfilled in life, and travel is only one part of that. We are not the type of people who scream at everyone to “quit their jobs, drop everything, and just travel!” We are not pushing for people to drop everything and quit their jobs, but rather to get people with jobs to travel more, when they can.
I think many people would reap multiple benefits from more travel, and that is part of our mission here. Value your free time, yes, but maybe cut out some of the lazy weekends (and find some budget airline deals), maybe cut out some unnecessary purchases (save the money for a weekend road trip), and visit other cultures and meet people with different mindsets to yours. Yes, you will be uncomfortable (airports can suck), and you will have brushes of anxiety and fear, but you will enjoy it tremendously. That’s a statement that I can confidently make. Enjoy your time and hopefully this inspired you a bit to travel more.