Travel has been an eye opener for me. Growing up in Long Island, New York I saw minimal diversity in my community. I was lucky enough to get to go on holidays with family throughout my childhood. We took beach holidays to Montauk, trips to Washington DC, annual visits to Disneyworld and a few jaunts to Caribbean islands or other parts of the United States. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in university and decided to go on a three-week trip to Israel that I started to realize so many other benefits of travel. I certainly wasn’t traveling for the point of an actual education but without question, that’s what I got. I was bitten.
I can clearly remember the Thanksgiving of 1994. I had been to Israel that May/June and couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it. We were at my aunt’s house and she wanted to hear all about my travels. We stood in the foyer next to the all white room that housed the piano and chatted. I don’t remember what I said, but I vividly remember her words. “Your face lights up when you talk about this”, she said as she smiled at me. That was it. That was when I knew. I think I’ve continued to search for that elusive ‘thing’ that has made me smile ever since. Twenty years later I’ve met my husband on an adventure, been lucky enough to see some amazing gifts of the world, resigned from teaching and am doing my best to forge a career in what made me smile then and still does to this day-travel.
There’s something special about travel. It seems to me that all the quotes about ‘it’s the journey and not the destination’ are completely true. Travel is a mindset and a lifestyle. It’s not about a collection of passport stamps (although I do love the sound that they make) or a spot on a map. If you’re lucky enough to be able to bottle the feeling you get on the road and can take it with you when life needs to be stationary-you’ve hit the jackpot. That feeling of whimsical joy and magic in the everyday is unique. Some search for years and it continues to elude them. If you’re lucky-you’ve felt it once and if you can let it in to envelope your lifestyle-it’s as if you can travel at any time you like.
The minute you get out of the airport (or the car) in a new place, that first breath of air is different. It feels new and as if anything is possible. No matter how bleary-eyed you may be from the circulated air and continual time zone lapses, you can already see with open and clear eyes. There’s excitement in the ordinary. Whether it’s a taxi or a tuk-tuk, cycle rickshaw or coach transport-it’s exciting. Diversity smacks you in the face and life that is varied or sometimes more similar to yours than expected happens in front of your eyes. You take photos of things that you’d normally avoid or discount as commonplace. The familiar is no longer mundane but perhaps even a sight for sore eyes. The different is new and the new is different and the need to experience is overpowering.
Yes, I would 100% agree that there are incredible gifts of travel that continue far after the travel is over. But what if it was possible for the travel to never end. What if those same feelings of butterflies and wonder, excitement and desire, curiosity and anticipation didn’t have to dissipate? What if we could find that same travel feeling going to our own farmer’s market or wandering our own city block? Would we still feel the urge to get up and go? Would we still carry that passport in our pocket to be ready for anything? Or would we instead decide that there’s no use in trying and the itch and urge are just too great to ignore? It’s been said that the greatest gifts you can give your children are roots and wings-perhaps there’s a way to intertwine the two. Eye opening, perspective changing, gift-giving and life-awakening-travel is all those things and so much more. Whether you take off with an open ended ticket or reminisce from the comfort of your couch….this traveler knows that without question, ‘not all who wander are lost’.