A recent article from Lonely Planet intrigued me. How could it not with the title: How Travel Makes You Smarter, Sexier and More Productive? At last scientific (sort of) evidence justified all the time and money I’ve spent over the years on my travel addiction. Those trips to England, Ireland, Italy made me smarter. All those weeks in Paris surely made me sexier (my fantasy). And jaunts to the Caribbean, Jackson Hole, Wine Country made me more productive. Who knew?
I’ve always loved the observation, “Not everyone who wanders is lost.” I also believe there’s a difference between a tourist and a traveler. A tourist sees the sights; a traveler experiences the place and the people. I like to think of myself as a traveler. Over the years I’ve met a lot of people in the places I’ve visited who have become close friends. I’ve learned to live like a local, appreciate food and customs, and even improved my language skills. For me, sitting in a sidewalk café people-watching trumps a visit to an obscure museum any day. And a lively dinner discussion with other guests at a chambre d’hotes can be the highlight of a trip.
There’s something about being in another environment, whether a foreign country or a domestic destination, that seems to strip away the identities we construct to function in daily life. In a foreign place we have the freedom to follow new paths and dreams of who we really are or who we could be. When no one has pre-conceptions of us, external trapping slip away and we soon find a lot of those daily issues and frustrations fall into perspective. We are who we are—we’re not our situation, our family, our job or our friends. For me, that freedom is one of the best reasons to travel.
There are still many new places I’d like to go—most probably qualify as adventure destinations—such as Bhutan, Turkey, Morocco and an African photo safari, but the old favorites call me back again and again. And every time I travel I discover something new—often about myself—and fall in love with the journey once more.
Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite destination? If you could go anywhere, where would it be?