My first trip was to Walt Disney World when I was just a baby, and my last trip was this summer when I went to New York City with my mom. In between those two have been countless trips where I have seen and learned new things and become a better person along the way. I was fortunate enough to be raised by two wonderful parents who prioritized traveling. While I may not have been jet setting across the world and traveling to different countries by the age of 2, I was, however, introduced to new places and new people often and early in my life.

I grew up in a small community, and I would see people develop a narrow-focused vision. Most people could not see outside of our small town in the Midwest and had a hard time relating or empathizing with other people. However, this was not the case for my family, and I attribute the bulk of credit to traveling.

Traveling will automatically introduce you to people who live differently than you. Even if you are just a state or two away, every place has its own culture and way of life. I believe it is vital to see how other people live in order to develop a sense of perception and empathy. We cannot fully understand what people are going through or sympathize when them unless we try to fully place ourselves in their situation which comes with traveling. I have developed a caring and protective side for the homeless throughout the last couple of year because they are prevalent in the majority of the places I have visited. Seeing their conditions and hearing their stories has given me the motivation to help them whenever I can. Volunteering at food kitchens, helping people I see on the street, or just lending a hand when someone needs one are all things that have come from my experiences with the homeless. These experiences are not something I can get from my small hometown, and I am grateful that I have had them through traveling because it has expanded and grown my drive to care for those in need.

Traveling will also introduce you to viewpoints that are different than yours. I am from a farming community, so I understand the wants and needs of farmers. However, when I go to the east coast for example, I see different things prioritized. LGBTQ+ and immigration rights are more prevalent because those are the issues they deal with daily. Seeing these people and experiencing their hardships first hand has allowed me to empathize with the people that I do not have the ability to meet every day in my hometown. I now carry that protective fire around with me everywhere I go, and I don't know if it would be as strong if I never got to see the issues up close.

I understand the traveling is not always accessible for financial and time restrictive reasons. However, any traveling, no matter how small, is beneficial, and I believe it should be prioritized. Plan a family getaway, start a savings for a flight over spring break, or just take a road trip with your friends; anything you do that puts you in a new environment with people who think differently than you will help you evolve. We, as people, need to learn to care for each other more, try to understand each other more, and respect our differences more. The best way to inhibit these traits, in my opinion, is traveling.