Travel is a weird thing. Everyone knows what it means, yet it still means something different to everyone.
There’s the overworked people who travel for relaxing getaways, saving money and vacation days all year to splurge at a five-star resort. There’s the fanny-packing, camera-toting, big city tourists who plan every detail of their trip with a guidebook in hand.
There’s the thrifty backpacker who wings it on the cheap, throwing some stuff in a bag, hitting the road, and playing it by ear. There’s those who travel with a mission, whether that’s to volunteer, climb Everest, or just pursue a passion like surfing in a new spot. There’s people who spend years traveling with no physical address to call home, working remotely while jumping from one place to the next.
Then there’s people who, personally I’ll never understand, have zero desire to explore the world outside of their zip code. But those people are irrelevant because I’m convinced they aren’t really people at all.
And those are just a few “stereotypes.” Point is, there are tons of reasons to travel and it’s personal to everyone.
For me, I travel to expand my knowledge about this amazing planet, from the people and the cultures to the natural beauty. I know that sounds vague but it’s true in so many ways. I travel to learn more about myself. To wake up in the morning and wander outside of my comfort zone. I travel to remind myself that there’s way more to life than spending every day in an office, and that people all over the world are fascinating beyond comprehension. And I can only hope to one day answer that I also travel to help people in other parts of the world, however that may be.
But without getting too sappy, I also travel to visit friends, eat and drink delicious things, take pictures of pretty places, and blab all about it here in hopes that I inspire others to do the same.
La Boqueria, Barcelona
The funny thing is that growing up in small-town Ohio, my family was actually considered well traveled because we vacationed in Florida every spring and Las Vegas every summer. Hell, when I moved to New York at 21 I thought I had an impressive travel resume even though I had no stamps in my passport. But it quickly became obvious I was nothing more than a sheltered suburban girl whose idea of traveling was limited to domestic hot spots. I met kids whose parents took them on African safaris instead of the local zoo, or whose families had a second vacation home in Paris or Italy. People who studied abroad more than once, or took a gap year in Australia. And here I was, with travel still a privilege and luxury in my mind, and certainly something I couldn’t afford while attending a college that was more than my family’s total combined income.
Somewhere along the line after I graduated that began to change, and I decided to make travel a priority. I’ve started figuring out how to make it work with my life and my income, so that I get the absolute most out of each trip. Yes, I’m still shelling out a few roundtrip flights each month towards student loans and rent, and no, I’m not quite living my dream of getting a paycheck while trekking around the globe with a computer and a backpack. But a girl can dream!
Those three months I spent living in London earlier this year helped me feel like I’d finally caught up. Or have at least come close to catching up. I finally got to visit all of those European cities my classmates went to after high school, and now I’m free to set out for those lesser-known places that REALLY excite me. And if I had the chance to do Thailand all over again, believe me I would. But that was my first big solo international jaunt, booked as a last minute trip during Monsoon season. Of course I missed out on a lot. But you can bet I’ll be going back to Southeast Asia soon enough.
Anyone can be more than one type of traveler because we all visit new places for different reasons. But, at least in my experience, you’ll always find that some of those trips are more fulfilling than others. While I still enjoy visiting big cities, I no longer find nearly as much satisfaction in skyscrapers as I do visiting remote areas of natural beauty. Plus I’m getting to the point where I don’t necessarily want to travel just for the sake of traveling if I have the opportunity to accomplish something or make an impact there. Unfortunately that’s still a bit difficult to do when you can only get a week or two off work.
So, why do you travel, or what do you find fulfilling when you visit a new place? And what trips are you looking forward to next?