My mom and I took our first international trip together when I was 11 years old, a few years after my parents’ divorce. We left everything behind and for a short while, experienced all that Montreal had to offer. In recent years, my mom explained to me that she was slightly apprehensive about taking that trip because it would separate me from my dad and grandparents back home, which was especially concerning to her since I already saw less of my father than I wished I could have. Nonetheless, we explored Quebec for ten days and I could not be more grateful that she made the executive decision to go anyway.
Since that week in Canada, I have had the privilege of continuing a life of travel, and with each trip, gain insight about the world around me. It was then that my high regard and passion for travel developed to what it is today. Through valuable introspection, I have learned more about myself, my values and other cultures simply from observing and launching myself into a foreign lifestyle for short weeks at a time. The following are my fondest recollections of travel and an accumulation of the information I have had the pleasure of gathering in my lifetime.
- Traveling allows you to detach from the clamor of everyday life and be wholly present and in the moment.
Each trip I’ve taken has been an absolute prime opportunity for me to unplug technologically and socially. With the passion for traveling comes the urge to neglect your everyday routine and adopt those of the country or region you are visiting. In turn, you find yourself drifting from your frequented social media platforms in exchange for chatting with locals about their family traditions and life stories, which, in the grand scheme of things, is far more interesting than anything that could be going on in the cyberworld.
2. It provides you with a newfound appreciation for other cultures and traditions.
Being away from home amplifies your curiosity and eagerness to learn about cultures and lifestyles you would otherwise not have been exposed to. In Istanbul mosques, female visitors are asked to have their hair and shoulders covered. In Quebec, customers are expected to greet shopkeepers, preferably in French, upon entering and leaving a shop. Naturally, these are customaries that the seasoned, conscientious traveler is inspired to explore. Researching their significance instead of merely complying with the guidelines makes for a traveler empathetic to differing cultures and their interconnectedness.
3. It promotes planning ahead.
Navigating through unfamiliar territory is often daunting when unequipped with problem-solving and planning skills. When left to your own devices in a foreign place, thinking on your feet is instrumental in getting from point A to point B. A daily commute differs greatly from the fast-paced nature of travel because back home you know your way around like second nature. Traveling abroad is not as easy as taking your everyday route; it requires more careful planning: knowing train/tube/bus times, purchasing necessary transportation tickets, careful consideration to museum and restaurant hours and so on.
4. But sometimes plans aren’t adhered to—traveling demands flexibility.
One of the fundamentals when it comes to traveling is being able to adapt to an altered itinerary. On a family cruise of the British Isles, we were supposed to dock at Derry, Ireland. Unfortunately, rough seas prevented us from entering the narrow port, so the captain instead docked in Belfast. Undoubtedly, we could have complained at the inconvenience and stayed on the ship that day, but truth be told, that defeats the sole purpose of traveling. We disembarked, located the visitor’s center, and proceeded to have an unexpectedly memorable day. Time and time again, travelers are forced to stray from their often strict schedules and venture off the beaten path, but sometimes it’s not such a bad thing.
5. The adventure
Getting out of the everyday is the obvious bliss of traveling. But it’s also about the historical aspects. It’s about the architectural aspects. It’s about not giving your normal life so much as a passing thought as you experience the uniqueness of the world. Cliché, I know. But that’s how it is. Few things in life are as liberating as immersing yourself in such culturally rich experiences, and I am beyond lucky to have seen as much as I have.