Traveling is something I love to do and something I wish I did more often. I love exploring new places, I love experiencing new cultures, I love tasting new foods.
I've actually spent a lot of time traveling by myself. I think I've flown on a plane alone more time than I have with a companion. (Though, a lot of times I was visiting someone.) Don't get me wrong, I love traveling with a good travel buddy, but there's just something so freeing about setting your own schedule, choosing all your own destinations and restaurants. Travel even gave me the courage to dine out alone, which had evaded me for years even though I'm a master at going to the cinema alone.
One time, I saw an incredible deal for a hotel in Telluride, Colorado on Groupon, bought it, booked it, and never managed to find anyone worthy of an invitation, so when the time came, I went by myself. I had the best time, but I did almost die on my way home. That's a tale for another day.
I've been to eight countries: US, Mexico, England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Scotland, and Wales. and I've visited 40 US states. (The 10 I haven't visited are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin)
Every time I travel, whether it be alone or with friends or family, I learn something new about our world and about myself. Travel has opened my eyes to so many new things and that's what fuels my passion for traveling.
I love everything about it. I love the restless night's sleep before a trip I've been looking forward to. I love early mornings at the airport and even lay overs. I really love the first breath of fresh air after leaving the airport for the first time in hours. I love the hotel rooms, the hours walking around a new city, the search for the best restaurant in town. All the research that goes into a trip and all the memories that come out.
But my absolute favorite thing about travel is the fleeting connection I make with other people. I think the greatest truth of our world is that a smile needs no translation. Everyone understands a smile and when I travel, I try to pass them out as much as possible. Traveling is exhausting, but when you smile at a stranger, it gives you a refreshing boost. When you have a conversation with the person next to you on the plane or next to you at the airport, you see a new perspective. These connections might only last a moment, but it makes me feel more connected to the world. It opens up my heart a little more each time.
I heard in a podcast a few weeks ago that the more we learn about something or someone else, the more we empathize with them and that's what travel has taught me. We're all the same, no matter what language we speak or where we grew up. Everyone had a unique perspective and unique experiences, but the core of our humanity is the same across the globe.
It makes me sad to think about spending your entire life tucked away in the same corner of the world. I know that's how some people choose to live their lives and they're happy about it, but I also think that comes at the price of a smaller world view. I don't blame them, it's hard to try to empathize with something you've never experienced or someone you've never met. But if you spend your life believing that where you're from is better than anywhere else, you slowly close yourself off to the idea that anywhere else has anything valuable to offer you.
That's not the way I want to live my life and I think I've done a decent job so far. I'll always welcome the idea of my next adventure. (In fact, we're headed to Ireland later this month!)