Friday, February 10, 2012

Why I Travel

Some little girls dream of their wedding day. Others dream about becoming a doctor, lawyer, or mother. My dreams have always revolved around international travel. I pictured far-away lands full of ancient relics, exotic landscapes with crystal clear waters and dramatic mountain bluffs, and the adventure of meeting new people from all walks of life. I’ve always enjoyed “new” and “foreign” experiences and couldn’t wait until it was my time to enjoy them too.

I got my first taste of international travel in college when I’d visit Europe during Spring Break (fares were pretty reasonable in March!) Then, as my professional career blossomed, I took trips abroad for international conferences and workshops. But in all of these times, over all of these trips, I’ve never visited any destination for more than a couple of weeks.

Like a typical American tourist, I’ve racked up countries by the handful during each trip. Rome, Madrid, Paris – I’ve covered them all in ten days! But I’ve always longed for more. I’ve always dreamed of having a chance to settle into a place, getting to know its everyday rhythms and interacting with locals on a daily basis.

Now, after many years of dreaming and wanderlust, I’ve traded in my job, home, and most of my belongings to do just that. To have an opportunity to “alter my cadence” as Rolf Potts describes it, and take it slow. I’ve been fortunate to see many places, but I want to start getting to know them. When the motivation for your journey is the experience, the place doesn’t really matter that much. I travel for the sake of traveling, not for visiting any particular place.