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A Life On The Go And Why I Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way

My neighbor peers through the window as I pack up and leave. I am heading to the airport again, off on another trip. I know what she’s thinking, “That crazy girl, when will she ever settle down.”

I am surprised when I get back from my trip to find a voice mail left by her on my phone. She simply asks if she could have a chat about why I travel so much. A week later I find myself sipping an expresso across a café table from her.

“So why do you do it?”

“Sorry, do what?”

“Travel, all the time. Don’t you want a life?”

I have to hold back a laugh. “Oh, I have a life. Quite a fulfilling and exciting one, thanks.”

“ I am curious about the whole…travel thing. I’m not sure I would ever do it, but can you please explain to me what’s the point. I mean you go and you leave again. You spend a boat load of money.”

“This may take a long time,” I warn, “How about I write you an email that explains travel from several points and why I do it.”

She agrees.

Late that night I hit ‘send’. I know my neighbor will be reading the email soon.

Dear neighbor,

First a little bit about me and my life:

From a young age my grandparents would tell me about their adventures. One grandmom studied abroad in Paris and had her first baby, my dad, in Germany. My other grandmom, got a job that gave her opportunities to travel all over the world, from Europe to Asia.

My first big trip was when I was six and my grandmother took me to Washington DC. We went to see a Broadway Musical, stayed at a hotel, and ate at restaurants on the top of high buildings. We walked to every museum possible.

Even at that age I loved every minute of that special trip.

Later, our whole family made a road trip across the US to California and stayed a month there. Then we drove all the way back home to Virginia. Later we ended up driving across the US again, this time to move to Idaho. From there we visited the West Coast, all the big national parks, and fell in love with the sweeping, grand vistas of the West.

My family always encouraged us to love the outdoors, biking, rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking. My parents also taught us to love books and reading. Through my books the world became smaller and yet BIGGER at the same time. In these books, countries I didn’t know existed popped into my view and one of my dearest wishes was to go on a trip abroad.

When I was 15, my grandmother took my sister, my mom, and I to Paris. The city of my dreams. For two weeks we tramped around, trying to speak French and visiting every cute square we could. I tasted and saw that travel was good for my soul. I was addicted.

From there, my family moved overseas to the strange and wild island of Papua New Guinea. I swam in new seas, lived in Australia for a short time, hiked around New Zealand, and rode jeepneys in the Philippines.
I wouldn’t want my life to end up any other way. I hope you understand.


Why Do People Travel?

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Each person has different, personal reasons for traveling. One of the common reasons is to challenge one’s self. Travel breaks down your walls, takes you out of your comfort zone, and forces you to live by your own whit. People discover how resourceful they really are when faced with another language, different kind of transportation, and culture. Once you’ve overcome these challenges there is an immense feeling of pride and your confidence grows.

Many travel to learn. Travel is an immersive learning style which has been proven to be one of the best way to learn certain skills and languages. From history to geography, sociology, anthropology and many other subjects, travel gives hands on education in many different areas.

Many travel to expand their perspective. Each culture has their “set of lenses” through which they view the world. Those who travel have a chance to view the world from. Many find that though their lenses where once ‘yellow’, after visiting a ‘blue’ country, their glasses are now green. That is to say, people who travel often have a far more balanced worldview.

The world is often likened to a book and if we only stay on side, our own country, we will only ever see one page. The rest of the chapters are out there in the rest of the countries. I and many others have found that our culture doesn’t necessarily have it all right. We can learn from other cultures.

Travel has been proven to help with mental health. I have met many along the road who journey to find themselves. Travel gives the chance to reflect on how one has lived their life and get a fresh perspective. Surprisingly, many discover they appreciate their loved ones and their own life better after getting away for a while. Often when living in your own hometown you’re not aware of how ‘special’ it is.

One of the best ways to get to know a person is to travel together. Traveling strengthens relationships in a way no other activity can and provides the chance to spend quality, focused time with each other. I mean, that’s why honeymoons exist! But travel also opens the doors to meet people and make friends you would never have the chance to meet before. A tip is to make friend with the locals, who can point you to the best spots and maybe in the future even invite you back!


Traveling Is Healthy For You

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Traveling keeps our brain sharp. New experiences and environment challenge the brain by building up resilience at the cellular level so degenerative disease is potentially delayed. Not to mention, it keeps our brains challenged and busy.

Travel promotes happiness and it is an incredibly helpful way to take your mind off stressful situations. This helps lower cortisol levels, making you feel calmer and content. In a 2013 study, more than 80% of Americans, who traveled, who were surveyed noticed significant drops in stress.

“Even though I’m always busy when I travel, whether it’s sightseeing, taking photos or just exploring a destination on foot, I know I’m the calmest and most relaxed when I travel,” says Jacintha Verdegaal, founder of travel and lifestyle blog, Urban Pixxels.

To travel enhances creativity. This is the reason so many writers stay in a different country while working on a project. Seeing new sites, breathing new air, has a way of awakening all our senses again as we take everything in. Clearing our minds of the clutter of daily life, is most often the best way to break through writer’s block and loss of inspiration.


Common Myths About Traveling

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Yes, travel can be expensive, but many find that after cutting out Starbucks from their weekly budget, they gain enough money to stay in a good hotel for a week. Travel is not as expensive as you might think. Money is never an excuse. Those who travel aren’t always rich people, but they find creative ways to make it work.

First, there are such things as budget airlines, cheap flight search engines, and last-minute flight discounts. Now with Airbnb (a house exchange system), couch surfing (staying in someone’s spare room, couch for free), and hostels (cheap hotels) there are always other options. Going to more affordable places like Bali and the Philippines, your weekly budget can be cheaper than living your normal routine in the US.

Isn’t travel unsafe? Sadly, so are many places in your home country. My point is, no country is without its problem areas, but you can make educated decisions on where to go and when, just like you would at home. Your number one defense against problems that may arise is to first do your research. Know where your going, what places around that area are sketchy, and find advice blogs (articles for how to travel in that area safely). A bit of common sense can go a long way.


Ways To Travel

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One of the best ways to travel is to volunteer abroad. This offers the opportunity to number one: open our eyes to true poverty and what a third world country looks like. Number two: form great friendships with team mates. Number three: help us develope selflessness and humility, usually a good work ethic too.

Another way to travel is with a tour group. This is a great solution for those who don’t want to travel by themselves but can’t convince anyone from their hometown to come. Have no fear, tour companies are here! With a tour company all the details of a trip are handled by professionals. From locations and adventures, food, guides, transportation, and housing, they have it all covered. Not to mention you will be with other people in the same boat, literally, which can create a great opportunity to make international friends.

Solo travel may sound scary at first, but those who travel solo are not alone. There is a whole internet full of solo travelers’ websites which offer great advice. Solo travel offers the chance for you to spend a little ‘me time’ and a chance for you to control everything about your itinerary. Many find this a freeing experience, especially for those who have gotten out of a bad relationship. Safety doesn’t have to be a problem. I would advise you research what are some of the best and safest countries for solo travelers.

So why not travel? You might discover a love, you never knew you had. You might find new inspiration for life, gain more confidence, or find an appreciation for a different culture. I know for myself, I wouldn’t want my life to be spent any other way.

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