How does one get “the itch?” What is it that makes a person want to spend their days exploring every last inch of this planet? Are people born with this desire? Do they inherit it? Or is it acquired at some point in life?
For me, it was acquired. I didn’t grow up traveling or really even desiring to travel. My family took vacations, but they were rarely to places more than a couple of hours from home, other than the occasional trip to the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee.
So how did I get this overwhelming desire to see the world? I really can’t pinpoint a specific moment or experience. I do remember dreaming of going to Hawaii when I was a teenager, and that wish came true when I graduated high school. My next “big trip” was a few years later when I invited myself to join my aunt on her dream vacation to Ireland for nine days. And maybe that’s when it actually started.
Ireland was the first place I visited outside of the United States and I embraced the differences (small as they were) between home and this “foreign” land. I loved them! Even the things that would have annoyed me had they occurred back home were enjoyable here because it was all part of the travel experience.
And I still kind of look at travel that way. It’s not just about the final destination – seeing the lands, buildings, and monuments – it’s about the experiences. The differences. If every place were the same, where would the lure be? It’s all about the differences: the food, the language, the culture, the people.
That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy seeing the lands, buildings and monuments. But that enjoyment is enhanced when they are being seen while surrounded by what is sometimes the unknown or unfamiliar. Yes, the unknown and unfamiliar can at times be scary or uncertain, but that’s also part of the lure. It’s a challenge. It makes for a more exciting and memorable journey.
I’ve done and experienced many things during my travels that I would have balked at doing or experiencing at home. Maybe I just need to be more adventurous when I’m not traveling the world. 🙂 But the point is, traveling breaks a person out of their comfort zone – whatever that looks like – and forces (or encourages) one to be more adventurous. It’s embracing the new and unknown; the different and challenging. That’s the point of traveling!
People who want things to be “just like home,” should probably just stay home. But those looking for adventure, excitement, new encounters, and lifelong memories should pack their bags and start exploring this fascinating planet we are blessed to call “home!”