Tuesday, 16 October 2012

And This Is Why I Travel

As a kid and to this day even, one of my favourite games to play is the one where you spin a globe, plant your finger on any place at random and then imagine all the fun adventures that await you.  I would be shocked if you could honestly tell me that you have never once tried this in your entire life.  I know the first time I spun the globe and planted my finger on a random destination I was pretty young.   The globe I used was of the out-of-date vintage variety sitting in my grandparent’s living room that still listed Russia as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  I was severely disappointed to be told that I was about 57 years too late to visit Siam (which was renamed Thailand in 1939). 

Have you ever taken the time to look at a map of the world?  And I mean really look at it.  Have you noticed just how big the world is?  It has so many different countries of a variety of different sizes, geographic locations, climates, cultures, topography, and other distinct features that makes each place unlike anywhere else on the map including their close neighbours. 

And yet, at the same time, the world is also incredibly small.  Despite the vastness of the oceans, with modern technology, people can visit literally anywhere in the world in under 24 hours.  But somehow, only a few people will ever see more than a small fraction of it.  How many people live their life in their own little corner of the world and think they have experienced a different culture because they eat Chinese food every Thursday night?

I don’t travel anywhere near as often as I would like to.  My hit-list so to speak of places to see grows exponentially faster than I can check places off the list.  Some of my less “flighty” friends, pardon the pun, often wonder why it is that I love travelling and even the idea of travel so much.  There is no one single answer of course but I will try to explain it as best as I can.

Travelling is always a new experience that can never be duplicated.  I don’t care what country, city or continent you visit, but your second trip is never going to be like your first and your third is going to be even more eye opening.  Some people argue that this is true of any experience.  However, in defence of my argument, going to the theatre for the first time to see Mamma Mia was an experience.  The second time my mother dragged me, not so much. And by the third time, I felt an overwhelming urge to toss the soundtrack CD that she picked up as a souvenir out onto the freeway as we were speeding home.  Touring the world however never gets old.  I could visit Cuba every year for the rest of my life and always find something new and exciting to witness be it the art, the music, a new little hole-in-the-wall restaurant or the even the local people.

Travelling is beautiful.  Whether it is the bustling city with the street vendors or the vast hillsides out in the middle of nowhere, I am constantly amazed with the variety of landscapes and wonders that our world has to hold.  That might sound a little too sentimental for some people, but I really do find our world to be incredibly beautiful with all the intricate details be them man made or found in nature.  Everything is so unique, alive and colourful that as someone who has a background in art and an eye for design, I can’t help envy the world’s unique and complimentary sense of style.

Travelling is a learning experience.  Whether you classify yourself as a nerd, jock, prom queen or otherwise, I think everyone in the world has at least to some degree, a sense of curiosity and a hunger for knowledge.  People want to learn, discover, ask questions, get their hands dirty and find out what makes the world go round.  I have learned so much over the course of my travels.  The people I meet always have something new to share.  The different cultures I come across are always eye opening and expand my viewpoints, challenging my opinions on certain topics.  I’ve learned much about how other people perceive me and my own culture.  I’ve learn how to prioritize and how to relax when things don’t go according to plan.  I’ve learned how to communicate better.  I’ve learned that folded paper maps are better than the electronic ones because the batteries in a paper map will never die and that only when I forget my rain jacket at home will it rain the entire week.

People travel for a variety of different reasons.  Each person is motivated by different things.  Maybe you are motivated to travel because for once, you want Thursday night Chinese food to actually be served in China and not your living room couch.  Maybe you travel because as a child, you spun an old globe in your grandparent’s living room and decided that you needed to see as much of the world as you could.  Comment below and share why you love to travel.