Today someone called me a world traveler. I don’t know if I’d describe myself that way. I’m a regular person, a Joe Plumber-ess type, though my life so far has been rootless. But it got me thinking about WHY I like to travel.
Some people travel to see new things. Some travel mostly so they can brag about the places they’ve been. Some travel to experience history. Some travel to shop, to play, to get away.
There is some kind of thrill in traveling. The thrill of experiencing a new place, the unexpected.
I travel to experience new cultures. I like to see the way people dress, the way they interact, how what their houses look like. I see what they eat, what they value, how they think.
When I joined OM and traveled on a ship for two years, I loved that we saw countries from the level of the people, not from some cruise ship’s preset agenda. We usually arrived in a commercial port. No tour buses awaited. No slick merchants set up shop on the quayside. We had to find our own transportation, the shops and grocery store, the best places to eat.
Because of our work, many times people invited us to their homes where I saw up close how they lived, from a cement mini-mansion with servants in Jamaica to a wooden-plank one room shack in Sierra Leone. After a few months of interacting with other cultures, for the first time in my life I appreciated being my own country. I like conveniences and a relatively friendly culture.
Traveling gives me a bigger view of the world. It challenges the way I think about things and asks me to consider if my way of thinking is simply a cultural habit or truly the best approach. And it becomes as addictive as a drug. I never want to stop growing like this. I guess I’ll have to keep going.
Why do you travel?