Traveling is a pastime almost universally loved. Of those I've known who have made time in their lives for travel and vacations, I can't think of a single one who completely hates the experience. From a very young age, my parents encouraged a love of travel and took us to various locations around the US, and later, around the world. To this day, I consider a trip to be of near equal importance to material purchases when considering how to spend my money or time.
But what should your aim be when traveling to a new locale, whether nearby or far abroad? My answer to this is not cut and dry. In fact, the answer should be different for everyone and every place. But it's also important to recognize and discover what is most important to you when traveling, and what you aim to get out of every trip you take, so that you never feel a vacation was wasted or aimless.
One great potential goal for a trip is to learn about a new location, culture or group of people. Vacations, particularly in foreign countries, are incredible opportunities to be immersed completely in a new atmosphere for a few days or a few weeks. No matter how much you read about a place or study it in school, it is a completely different experience to visit, speak to the people who were born there, explore its monuments and sample its cuisine. Immersion at its finest is the chance to visit a place but live like a local.
Another potential goal of travel is relaxation or rejuvenation. At some time or another, everyone experiences stresses or challenges in their personal, economic, social or professional lives. At times, if those challenges get to be too much, where is the harm in splurging on a weekend trip away, or perhaps even a longer trip to a tropical location? As long as you're financially able to do it, a relaxing, recuperating vacation can be an extraordinary thing.
What else should you aim to get from traveling? The possibilities are endless. It could be a trip with friends or family that strengthens connections and creates important memories. Perhaps it's a chance to learn a language or improve language skills. Maybe you're planning to have amazing adventures and tons of thrills, or to meet new people and make connections. No matter what, potentially the most important part is that there is some intention to your next getaway.
And, more importantly, does a getaway even need to mean trekking around the world? Can't a vacation also be heading up to a cabin for a few days, taking a cheap weekend visit to see friends out of state, or just creating a mini vacation in your backyard?
A trip with no purpose and no intention can certainly be as great as any other. But a trip that you enter with a clear intentions (or perhaps a multitude of intentions) can leave you with a greater feeling of purpose and success when that amazing trip comes to an end.