Why I Travel
Admittedly everyone travels for different reasons. The majority of Americans travel for vacation reasons; they wish to escape the 9-5 work day and go somewhere exotic with beaches and exciting adventure experiences or to sit back on a cruise ship and be pampered all day. I believe my reasons are a bit different, but have something in common with the average American on vacation.
I think the single biggest factor in my craving to travel would be new stimuli. I absolutely crave being exposed to something new. It can be new cultures, people, colors, architecture, smells or foods. It doesn’t really matter as long as it is different in some way to what I’ve seen or experienced before. Where many people feel more stable and relaxed by staying in one location for years on end, I think I become board if I stay in one location too long. Sometimes I wonder if my moving so much with my family started me down this path. My family made 27 moves before I graduated from high school and I continued on with this pattern making another 23 moves before buying my house in Denver Colorado (which is for sale as I’m writing this blog). I think the longest I’ve lived in one house was five years.
Different World Views
Anyone that knows me well, or has a conversation with me longer than an hour, knows I am fascinated with how people view the world around them and how they perceive reality. If we look at history, popular views of the world around us has changed every century. It wasn’t long ago that many people believe the world was flat and if you went far enough you would fall of the edge. Others believed the sun was a chariot god or that the world rests on the back of a turtle. Science has told us that ether filled the empty space between the planets. Today we are hearing a lot about dark energy and dark matter as well as wacky math in quantum physics. I just think we really don’t understand much about reality and at best we might be half right about anything we believe regarding the physical or non-physical world around us. What it boils down to is when traveling my single most favorite activity is to meet someone local who will go some where local to a street cafe for a meal. I love to learn how they view the world around them while eating exotic ethnic foods and watching people go by. I can’t think of anything I like more about travel than that experience.
I have a passion for learning languages. I admit I’m not good at it, but my talent is that I enjoy it so ultimately I succeed just through time and enjoyment. I don’t learn languages because I have to, I learn them because I enjoy it. I think my passion for languages stems from my interest in world view philosophy.
I know I’m a wimp when it comes to weather. If my fingers and toes are freezing I’m absolutely miserable. At the same time, if I’m too hot or in the sun too much, I’m not happy. In many ways, the travel experience for me is a bit like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears where she tries to find a chair or food that is “just right.” I typically gravitate toward areas with temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees (or up to 85 if a dry climate). One of the great things about travel is that if it is too hot in one location, you can just pack your bags and move to somewhere warmer or cooler.
I think I learn and grow the most when I travel. For instance, while in Taiwan I tried more exotic foods than any other country I visited. The night markets there are full of strange exotic foods. After coming back to the States things that I used to avoid eating seems like no big deal to me. Even my one big food phobia, which is cheese, seemed trivial. I discovered that my tolerance for different foods had grown considerably and my diet had evolved. Today I’m mostly vegetarian and drink water or coffee. Three years ago I lived on soda or milk in combo with instant microwave frozen meals. It has been over two years since I had a frozen meal or a glass of milk and I rarely drink sodas anymore. I don’t know if this constitutes “growth” per se, but it is certainly some form of personal evolution.
Sometimes I wonder if my wanderlust is some exotic form of subconscious escapism. Other than escaping uncomfortable living conditions like weather, I really don’t think it is escapism for emotional reasons. I think the primary motivation revolves around the areas listed above but I always try to keep an open mind as I continue to learn and grow.