Recently I remembered a conversation I had with a friend on the topic of traveling, in which he told me that he had no desire to visit another country. Being a self-proclaimed travel enthusiast, I was taken aback. I began to think about all the ways that traveling has affected me and other important people in my life. From family vacations to short weekend road-trips with friends, or even just a drive to the beach, most of my favorite memories have been created in places that are, at the time, new. I've had the chance to fall in love with a place and bond with others over being there together. I've grown as a result of witnessing the lives of others, no matter how similar or different they are to mine. Without these chances to travel and the memories I've made as a result, I feel I wouldn't be the person I am today. Traveling is essential in life, and here are a few reasons why:
1. The memories
Like I've said before, some of my favorite memories have been made away from home. Throughout my life, I've been lucky enough to experience both the long out-of-country vacations and just the short in-state day trips. What I've found is that no matter the cost, and no matter where you decide to go, the memories you make will always be important. So many fundamental parts of myself have been formed around the memories I've made while experiencing new places, whether it be the foods I like, the places I want to eventually live or the ways I like to spend my time. You don't need to spend tons of money on a luxurious trip either. "Travel" is really a relative term; technically, just a quick drive to a new city is considered traveling. The value of an experience is not related to how much it costs, but by how much it affects us, and I feel that the best way to find these experiences is through traveling.
2. The bonds
It really does sound cliché, but going on vacations with my family has brought us closer together. Sometimes life can feel like it's going a million miles an hour and everyone you care about seems to be going in separate directions. This is why traveling with other people is so important. Whether you spend a day tipping out of kayaks with your brothers, fishing with your dad or shopping with your mom, traveling gives you the time to reconnect with everyone who is important to you. Traveling can be a much-needed break from responsibility, which opens the door for getting back in touch with the things and people you love. The bonds you form while traveling aren't just between people, either. You can also bond with a place, a culture, or a state of mind. You can end up forming a connection to an area that you love so much, you can't help but start planning to come back. These are strong, profound connections to people and places, and traveling is the way to form them.
3. The perspective
Everybody knows that not every person in the world shares a single way of life. There are countless cultures and perspectives that might be vastly different from your own. The best way to explore these is, you guessed it, to travel. To immerse yourself in the culture of a region is to truly understand how it works. I remember the feeling of disbelief I had when I visited the Dominican Republic for a senior trip a while back. It was eye-opening to witness the way these people live, and though it was very different, it was fascinating. I find myself feeling the same way even in the more rural areas of my own state; it's always strange for me to think about people actually living in these places and not just visiting for a week. While living in the suburbs, it can be easy to forget that not everyone shares the same midwestern way of life. Traveling puts all of this in perspective and acts as a reminder that the world is full of beautiful cultures and people and that it's waiting to be explored.
Traveling, in itself, can seem like a very simple and menial thing, but it's not. Traveling keeps the world small and connected while simultaneously building connections that span across border lines and oceans. Traveling is essential in life.