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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.