Why do we travel?
We travel because we need to: For work or for an escape. We travel to see family and friends. We travel for events big and small.
But no matter the reason, there's a common thread: Travel brings us together. It brings us closer to our loved ones and helps us see that even strangers who live far, far away have more in common with us than differences.
Travel makes our world smaller. It's the antidote for ignorance.
With travel at a standstill and the world focused on the fight for justice, we wanted to take a step back and dissect why we travel – and why it matters so much.
Traveling to Bond
Who have you met on your travels that impacted your life? What did you learn from them?
My trips throughout Southeast Asia are full of memories – especially Thailand.
Exploring southern Thailand solo, I wound up on the island of Koh Samui for a week. You realize how easy it is to quickly make friends when traveling alone.
On the beach, I met a group of local doctors who lived in town. They were kind enough to invite me out for a big dinner and show me around the town afterward. A chance encounter led to one of my favorite nights in Thailand.
Whoever you are, wherever you go, your best travel memories can be borne from the people you meet. Travel is nothing without people and the connections between them.
It could be your enthusiastic tour guide, your well-informed Airbnb host, or just the outgoing local sitting next to you at the pub. These connections can be fleeting, or they can last a lifetime. Regardless, they shape your trip. And whether you realize it or not, these experiences change you.
There is common ground when meeting people abroad. With few exceptions, we all want to learn about and help each other. If you open yourself to it, these bonds are unavoidable – and they're amplified while traveling.
It's one of the reasons we keep coming back.
Breaking Down Barriers
Have you visited a place you thought would be so different, but instead found many similarities? What are some cultures, traditions, and practices that you connect with?
Knowing some Portuguese is essential to navigating many Brazillian cities. While spending two weeks traveling throughout the country in 2015, I landed in Florianopolis without a lick of Portuguese – and an Airbnb host who did not speak English.
Luckily, we both spoke enough Spanish to get our thoughts across to each other. The same pattern played out with countless other locals, all more thoughtful and inviting than the last. It was immediately obvious just how friendly and helpful Brazilians are – and how much they love to dance. They were curious about the U.S., while still proud of their homeland and welcoming to all visitors.
The more you travel, you'll form an inescapable conclusion: Wherever you go, more unites than divides us.
Sure, we may look different. We may practice different religions or hold different political viewpoints. And we may like different music, foods, and forms of entertainment.
But beyond those surface-level differences, you realize we value many of the same things in life. We face similar obstacles and challenges. We love our friends and family, and lean on them to overcome those obstacles. For the most part, we all want to help both friends and strangers whatever obstacles are in their way, too.
Our passions may not always align, but we hold those in our hearts, burning at the same level.
Time and time again, travel is the catalyst that breaks down the distance and the artificial barriers separating us.
Self-Enrichment and Maturing
Can you think of the times that travel has tested your patience and forced you to grow? What have you learned while traveling that has shaped your perspective on the world? Have your previous beliefs changed?
Traveling around the world in a week last year was a blur. This “assignment” was one of the best weeks of my life. And while many stops shaped it, one moment in Muscat, Oman still stands out.
After exploring the majestic Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque during my first trip to the Middle East, we made our way toward the exit only to be waved into a small classroom by an elder of the mosque. As we sipped on delicious Arabic coffee with a tray full of different dates laid in front of us, this gentleman told us about the history and shaping of Islam.
It was not a lesson or a sermon, but a conversation between new friends. He asked us about our home, and our religious practices just as he explained his own. I left the room impressed and filled with gratitude. While nations may be embroiled in conflict and differences in religion have spawned centuries of tension, there was no hint of it here.
To travel is to grow. Unless you plug your ears and cover your eyes, you will learn. You will learn about the new people around you and yourself, too.
Travel tests your knowledge and your patience. You're forced to leave your comfort zone, and that's when we grow most. You'll be faced with situations in which you'll need to listen and learn on the fly. As you expand your boundaries, you'll begin to truly understand different cultures and societies, forcing you to reflect more earnestly on your own.
Why do we have certain customs and traditions? How do they relate to others around the globe?
Travel encourages us to rethink our long-held points of view. The more we see, the more we knowledge we obtain. See and experience enough, and you may drop those preconceived notions as you realize how connected we all are.
Travel opens our eyes. We are far more similar than different.
Right now might not be the right time for an adventure. But when you’re ready, we encourage you to continue exploring, learning, and growing.
Yes! Love this! The whole world will benefit from bonding, breaking down barriers, and all of us growing, learning and maturing. While in Australia (where aboriginals were massacred) I saw a white culture that feels true remorse for the injustice of the past, and they repeatedly recognize aboriginals and work to build equality. I’m sad to say, as an American I was surprised to see such an outward admitting to wrongdoing – because in the States we so often “sweep it under the rug” as the saying goes. We can look to other countries for examples of fair, just treatment of all people. Traveling and learning about other cultures can help us connect AND see ways to “do better.”