Some of us love the idea of jetting off to a new destination. Others of us can’t think of anything more stressful. But however you feel about boarding an airplane, traveling occasionally is extremely important. And I would like to expand the definition of travel beyond passports, carry-ons, boarding passes, and hotel reservations.
Travel is any activity that takes you outside the context in which you are comfortable.
That’s right– traveling does not have to mean spending thousands of dollars to hang out in a shark observatory or trek through the Himalayas (though it could certainly mean that). Instead, it simply means taking yourself to a new place. It means exploring the unfamiliar. It means engaging with people you do not see everyday.
Travel could mean taking a walk through the other side of town and sitting down at a cafe or restaurant there. It could mean allowing the public transport route to carry you to a new neighborhood. Perhaps there’s a museum you have been wanting to visit for years and have never gotten around to it. Or, there’s a town fair or flea market that happens nearby that you rarely ever visit.
The most important thing to remember when you’re traveling is that discomfort is natural. In fact, I think it is good for me to traverse across scenes and cultures in order to see my own context more clearly. In those moments of discomfort, I am able to reassess my preferences and why I prefer those things. And when I return to my own context, I find myself more flexible, more accepting, and less rigid.
Still wondering why you should travel more? Here are a few good reasons!
1) To be inspired.
Taking ourselves to new places reminds us that what we consider to be ordinary can be extraordinary. Not everyone lives, works, or thinks like we do, and seeing someone else’s home or context can help us expand our understanding of the community around us. Furthermore, we can be inspired by the beauty we see to create something new in our everyday lives– whether it’s trying new recipes, making great art or building new relationships.
2) To be challenged.
It does not require traveling far in order to confront something that is difficult for us. Sometimes there are scenes and realities in our own backyard that cause us to shudder. Perhaps it is a cultural norm that we find offensive, or a living condition that is less than ideal. When we enter into those spaces, we are forced to face our own reactions. Those are great opportunities to dig deep and ask ourselves, why do I feel this way? Is there something I can do about this– either in that community or in my own heart?
3) To connect and reconnect.
There is no need to travel alone, or to remain alone once you get there! Traveling is a wonderful way to get to know someone better, or to rely on the friends you make along the way. While at times this can bring a bit of tension and stress, relationships often grow deeper once taken out of their usual context. Experiencing something new with another person can be the most rewarding thing for your friendship with them!
4) To change and be changed.
When we experience contexts and communities outside of our own, we can’t help but be affected. In addition, we leave an impact on that place, whether great or small. Think of your travels as an opportunity for different worlds to collide. In addition to asking yourself what you have gained, you might also consider what that place has gained because you were there. Travel might mean leaving your own context, but it ultimately brings people together. And you’ll have stories to share once you return!