I have friends who have never ventured off American soil. When I ask them if they are interested in traveling outside of America, some reply, “no, thanks”. They are perfectly content to go to their graves never having been to a foreign land. I find this extraordinary! I could understand not traveling due to financial constraints, but to just plain have no interest in anything outside of our relatively small world—that I find puzzling.
Traveling is not just about sightseeing, visiting museums, and eating different cuisine. There are many important reasons to travel beyond these wonderful experiences. Visiting other lands is an education. It broadens our horizons and world view. It is one thing to read about a country or watch a television program about a place and another to walk and tour the country yourself.
I had always heard that the French dislike Americans and that you better try to speak their language because they won’t help you out. When I went to Paris I found that most of the French people in the hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions all spoke English and had no problem communicating with us and were perfectly hospitable. But beyond that, there is no way to really experience the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, or eat a baguette sandwich at a café without being there in person. Walking around the streets of Paris is a visceral experience. Seeing the city at night with all the lights is breathtaking!
Someone once said, the world was meant to be experienced, not imagined. I couldn’t agree more. Meeting people of different cultures, sharing in their customs, experiencing their world is an education you can’t get anywhere else. You return home enriched and sometimes more grateful for what we have in this country.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” It is much easier to judge and have preconceived ideas about other countries if you never visit for yourself. Travel teaches you about other cultures and more about yourself. It changes you and opens your mind to other ways of life.
My son did a semester abroad in Australia and he was able to travel to Bali, Fiji, and New Zealand. He came back a changed young man! It had such an influence on him that he has gone into the travel business as a profession. He got bit by the travel bug and is determined to travel all over the world.
If you’re into photography, you can capture amazing images while traveling. Pictures that will forever remind you of all the wonderful things you did and saw on your adventure abroad.
The world is getting smaller and we have a global economy and cannot stick our heads in the sand and just take care of ourselves, ignoring our neighbors around the globe. Traveling can make you aware of how important it is to protect and preserve history and why it’s so important to strive to live peacefully together on this planet.