Why I Travel

April 24, 2014 Tessa Bradford 51 comments

Why I Travel

Someone recently asked me why I love to travel, and I didn’t have an immediate answer for them. It wasn’t something I’d seriously thought about before. My initial reply was simply, “Well, why wouldn’t I? It’s awesome!”

But that’s not a very good answer. And so I’ve thought about it.

It came to me when I was still in Taiwan. I was driving on an old dirt road, following a stream-bed as it cut through the mountains. Mango fields and coconut groves swept past me making the air smell sweet. It was late in the day and the sun was low in the sky, making half the jungle glow a bright green while casting the other half in blue-hued shadow. Puffy clouds stuck to the craggy mountain peaks. The occasional monkey could be spotted climbing boulders in the distance. I was on my way to explore a new waterfall, cruising on my scooter while Brandi Carlile crooned through my iPod.

And it was just… perfect. How many places in the world are so beautiful that they put peace in your mind and joy in your heart?

Overlooking Pingtung, Taiwan
Overlooking Pingtung, Taiwan

I’m not going to say what you think-- I don’t think it’s a small number. I think that they are uncountable. I think the world is full of them—these perfect places timed with perfect moments. I think they are everywhere. Sometimes they may take a little bit of effort to find. They’re not an everyday occurrence. But I think they are just waiting to be found out.

Koh Phangan, Thailand
Koh Phangan, Thailand

I want to find as many as I can. I want to feel like I’ve done my very best to know that the world is beautiful and surprising and that it has so much to offer us.

But I want to do this without being naïve. I don’t think the world is perfect. I know that it is not. I know the world is hurting, and dirty, and violent. I know the world is hungry, and heartbroken, and angry. I know the world is dangerous. But not being naive doesn’t mean being cynical.

Staten Island, New York
New York City, New York

And I think travel makes me better. I think it makes me more compassionate. It makes me understand. It makes me appreciate. The more of the world I see, the more I realize that I love the world. I love the places I find so much. I love the people I meet—not all of them, granted. I am not by nature a people-person. But travel makes me more patient, to listen and know.

Travel teaches me. It teaches me that there are incredible differences in cultures and ideas and appearances, and that these differences don’t change emotions. It can temper them or it can accentuate them, but at our core, we all experience the same range of sensations.

Blarney, Ireland
Blarney, Ireland

Travel excites me. It delivers on its promise to make life interesting. It’s not always good, it’s not always easy. But it is interesting. It challenges me. It makes me grow up, but it lets me stay young. It never fails to offer something new or different.

Motorcycle road trip through Nepal
Empty road, Nepal

I don’t think that this life is for everyone. I know there are plenty of critics, who think my time would be spent better back at home, finding my niche, starting a career.  And some days I do worry, what will I do next? But when it comes down to it I know that this is the best life for me now. I can say with conviction that I love my life. I love what I am doing. And that, to me, tells me that it is the right thing.

And so, when someone asks me why I travel, I can tell them: I travel because I love the world and want to know it better. I travel to learn, to understand, and to find adventure. I travel because it is the way I am supposed to live my life.

In the Ozarks, photo by Alec Vanderboom
In the Ozarks, photo by Alec Vanderboom

51 Comments on “Why I Travel

  1. Hi – Thanks for following me and helping me to discover you… You are so young but so inspiring.. I do not travel much because of my job, but your bucket list has set me thinking.. I wish you all the best and I hope you have many wonderful adventures doing all those things on your bucket list- Hey — do give me a shout when you are in India to celebrate Holi !

    Best wishes
    India Story.

  2. I love your blog, you’ve captured an essence of all that is good about humanity – humour, compassion, curiosity and a wonderfully open mind to all that you’re seeing on your travels, great stuff, can’t wait to read more!

  3. Love the writeup! Wonderfully said and I do agree that travel makes us better human being…its a silent but spontaneous transformation. Wish you all the best! And thanks for the follow because it helped me know about your beautiful travel blog

  4. I love your post! Sometimes I wonder how there are so many people out there who don’t want to travel! There is a big world out there and I want to see it all. :]

  5. There’s so much that can be learned from traveling to a country where they speak a different language, eat radically different foods, and worship in ways the traveler has never imagined. The experience will amaze any open mind.

  6. I love to surround myself with people with a wanderlust in their veins. You give out clean and clear reasons for traveling and this is a beautiful post <3 Keep traveling and sharing your adventures to the world ^^

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