Why Do We Travel?

This post is exploratory, as lately I have been thinking a lot about what traveling means to me, and to humans as a whole. Many people love to travel, to see new places. Some even quit their jobs and hit the road. Why do we have a strong pull to travel? Why do we have wanderlust? 

To me, there are some basic reasons we like to travel:

1) Newness in small doses: Experiencing something new is exciting, but change is scary. Traveling provides a balance between new + temporary. Traveling to see new places is not the same as moving somewhere. When traveling, we see "newness" in glimpses, capture beauty in snapshots, experience the ideal of a place.

2) Learning: Traveling enriches our lives because it gives us the opportunity to learn. Sometimes we learn a new language, about a new culture and customs, even simply about a different climate. And learning leads to growth and development. For example, when I studied abroad in Spain, I became proficient in the Spanish language, which was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I still remember the headaches I used to get when thinking in English and the transition to thinking in Spanish! Towards the end of my semester abroad, the headaches were well worth the knowledge I'd gained.

3) Gaining Independence: Navigating airports, trains, and busses can be frightening at first, but with time, we become more comfortable. Traveling has taught me a lot about myself. Pushing myself to try new things especially when I'm traveling solo has boosted my confidence about what I am capable of.

It only occurred to me recently that there are deeper emotional reasons why being on the road is comforting to me personally.  I discovered my reasons through some of the poetry I scribbled on planes. I wonder if anyone else will relate to this?

Sea Air
From the plane, everything is blue
There are ships making wakes in the water
Or maybe they are planes in the sky,
leaving a white stripe behind
Up is down and down is up
We are in the air
and in the sea at once


Emotional reasons I like to travel:

1) Escapism: Why do we watch TV? Why do we day dream? Escapism frees us of our daily lives. No matter how happy or sad we are in our daily routines, travel breaks this routine and allows us to be somewhere else...someone else. I am typically someone who is very serious, goal-oriented, and easily stressed. On the road, I feel free, as if my mind has shifted completely. I feel like when I'm somewhere else, I don't have to live up to the high expectations I've set for myself in my daily life. Maybe this one is specific to perfectionists??

2) Oneness: When I am so far from my home, seeing new parts of the world, I am reminded of the expansiveness of our earth, and the universe itself. It makes me feel small, but whole at the same time -- a part of something bigger. The transience of life, of our beautiful mother earth itself, of all living things feels peaceful to me. 

This post is fairly individual, and not meant to be a "tips" post like many of my others. Just wanted to put my thoughts out there. Let me know if you can relate!

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