Why I Travel

April 24, 2014 Tessa Bradford 49 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

49 Comments on “Why I Travel

  1. Nicely put, for me, travel is looking out and seeing everything. All the possibility in the world. No matter how far or close to home, looking back and seeing our world from the outside changes us.

    Jim

  2. First, let me say it is great to have you following my blog. A forewarning, posts are often not about traveling but various things from poems (just had a book of poems published), to food, to thoughts about the world, especially environmental issues, and all sorts of things. Second, a comment on reasons to travel: I teach where the majority of students have never gone anywhere, not even to the second largest canyon in the US which is only 25 miles from where they live. Traveling changes people for the better in so many ways–gives them a perspective on the world, decreases all sorts of prejudices and misconceptions, and helps them understand others. My dad, who lived on the same farm all his 90 years, started taking his family places far away when I was only three. I remain perpetually grateful.

  3. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing! And thanks for following me! I agree with everything you said and would definitely emphasize the power that seeing the world has to rid the traveler of selfishness and bigotry.

    Mark Twain said it best: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

  4. Great post – you’re in my tribe! Thanks for following me – I’ll be checking back here, and looking through the posts. When I’m not travelling, that is! 🙂
    Thanks again.

  5. Wow, that’s a good answer! I used not to like to travel, but time changed it all and now I just wish I could travel more. You are right, travelling teaches a lot, and make you understand things from different point of views. Now I love to prepare carefully before leaving for a new country, because travelling is such a good opportunity for personal growth that it would be a too bad mistake to be not prepared. And I love to collect informations and experiences from blogs of real people, way more than from any travel guide. Thanks for all the informations on your beatiful bolg! 😉

  6. I love your post and I sort of envy you because can confidently say/describe your feelings on why you love travelling. 😀 I love travelling but I am still at that stage when I ask myself why, I still don’t know the answer. But I guess to certain point my reason are similar yours, I find peace and happiness in discovering places and experiencing moments that makes you realize how beautiful life is. 😀

  7. Beutifully said. Amazing photos 🙂 This is me as well I love traveling and my bucket list if full of places that I would love to go and adventure at.

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