Let me preface this post by adding a couple of disclaimers : this post is not meant to shame anyone into traveling nor is it meant to be an uppity piece about "why I am better than you because I travel". I totally understand that not everyone cares about traveling. I also understand that not everyone is in a position to be able to travel at this time. Both are ok. I am simply writing this post to encourage those that DO wish to travel, to make it more of a priority.
I recently ran across an Elite Daily article that actually struck a chord with me. I usually avoid these kinds of click-bait articles as they can be quite a time suck and rarely do they provide anything overly revolutionary. However, the article was titled "Travel-shaming is a Thing and Here's Why You Shouldn't Take it Seriously", which peaked my interest. To summarize it for you, the author discusses how there are certain travelers who view themselves as superior to mere tourists, claiming that their way of traveling is far better and more authentic.
I was instantly convicted. I have totally been guilty of "travel-shaming" while snobbishly scoffing at a friend's story about "how great of a time they had on their cruise vacation". Cruises! BAH! How DARE they even consider that traveling! You are carted around like a head of cattle on a barge from destination to destination with only a few hours in each port to explore the very touristy harbor while not even experiencing the true culture!!!
Look, a cruise may not be your (or my) idea of a good time. That's totally not the point. At all. As the author notes in the above mentioned article, the point is everyone who is "traveling or visiting a place for pleasure", is in fact a tourist. And that's a good thing! I don't know when the word "tourist" picked up such a negative connotation, as if it's a cardinal sin to want to expand your horizons and explore the unfamiliar.
As travelers (tourists), we should be a much more encouraging community, welcoming all forms of travel and seeing them as as equal methods of self-betterment and discovery. Traveling, no matter the mode or method, demands that the traveler be pushed out of their comfort zone and often into very stressful situations. Conflict often spurs growth and change. I know from personal experience that every time I have been frustrated, felt out of control, stressed from missing a train, not understood a foreign language; that I have grown as a person.
My worldview expands every time I travel and I see a different way of life from my small bubble in Austin, TX. Traveling gives you more empathy as you now have a connection and a love for a place across the country or world from where you live. If tragedy strikes a place you have visited and loved, it hits home and it feels more personal than if you had never been there before. Expanding empathy increases your emotional intelligence, which helps in every aspect of your life.
One of the first questions my father asks while interviewing a prospective hire, is if they have traveled recently. While it is not a knock against someone if they haven't, after 22 years of hiring, my father has noted that people who are well traveled often have better interpersonal relationships with their coworkers and generally handle stress better. I don't believe this is a coincidence.
Some of the best relationship advice I ever received was to take a trip together. The stress from traveling and being put into unfamiliar situations often reveals your true colors and shows how you and your significant other handle stress. It can quickly turn into a make or break situation!
Back to my point: it doesn't matter where/how/why you're traveling. Just do it. You don't have to leave the country or even get on an airplane to expand your worldview. Some of my favorite experiences with my fiance have been quick trips to tiny Texas towns. We eat lunch in the local town square, stay at little B&B's, and mingle with the super friendly (albeit much more conservative than Austin) townspeople. Traveling to local destinations and even exploring the city you live in can be an eye-opening adventure that doesn't have to be expensive!
Traveling simply requires you to be open-minded and curious. It doesn't require a big fancy budget, or require you to backpack across Europe, or take a cruise - if that's not how you want to travel. Simply go - you'll thank yourself later.
Kat - Wander Life