I was thinking this morning about all the wonderful things I am blessed with. I love my home, my friends… I still have my mom with me and my crazy dogs who always make me smile. I have a job that pays well and that pays me enough to travel which enriches my life so much and feeds the fire that is my passion for Britain.
When I think of my life without travel, I wonder how I would survive in this angst-filled, busy busy busy, dog-eat-dog world that seems to consume everything in its path. I turn on the tv and see nothing but anger and backstabbing. Very few programs inspire me.
If you’re not much of a traveler, you may be wondering what draws people to it so much. I thought I’d write about that a little today.
When I was young, my parents would take us camping and RVing on vacations and weekends. I got to experience nature in a way you don’t when you are at home, NOT experiencing anything different. Nothing feels quite so magical as waking up to the sound of birds singing, the gentle lapping of a lake nearby, and bacon cooking on the coleman stove or an open fire. So, my number 1 reason to travel is to stimulate the senses beyond your normal daily life. New Orleans smells different than Houston or London. Cities have a different vibe than the country. Whether it’s visiting castles, the New Orleans grave of the Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, or watching shrimp trawlers in Galveston bay – each experience is different and wonderful in its own right.
But beyond stimulating your senses, you are learning how people are different. How different cultures interract differently than you do and why that’s not always such a bad thing. For instance, when I’m in Britain I get to experience a culture that is slower in some ways to ours. Not London, per se, but small towns and villages tick at a much slower rate than most of America. I wouldn’t mind traveling at that rate of life! You learn that your rules aren’t the only rules and that there is more than one way to view life (believe it or not, it’s not all about America!).
Ah, then there’s the food. For the food, probably my favorite location is New Orleans. I adore seafood, and these are people that make it happen! I remember being in England in the 80s and finding very little that was edible (Western and European cooking hadn’t really made it to their shores during this time). But, slowly, Britain is now becoming known for its cuisine with chefs like Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, and Nigela Lawson. Who wouldn’t want to try some traditional dishes made by these awesome chefs? In Texas, we have a wide variety of traditional cooking… from Mexican to seafood and beyond, I’ve tasted some magnificent meals!
My education has increased through experience as well. I’ve taken historical tours in New Orleans; university classes in Harrogate, England; and visited many historical sites in the U.S. and Europe as well. I remember standing on top of a mountain overlooking the Konigsee from Hitler’s Eagle’s nest and feeling the history of this location sink in. Or visiting Ripon cathedral York Minster, Notre Dame Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood, Stirling, Tintern, Tintagel…. the list goes on and the history goes deep. I’ve learned mostly that we keep repeating history in some of the worst ways. Maybe if everyone had this type of education our world wouldn’t be where it is today. Road Scholar provides tours for people (mostly seniors) who want to do a deep dive into the culture of a society.
Another organization that is more cost-friendly is Hosteling International whose core function is to provide affordable travel to (mostly) youth who want to experience other cultures. It’s a very worthwhile organization, and today hostels not only host youths but pretty much anyone who wants a chance to travel but doesn’t have a grand budget for it.
And finally, I’d like to mention the comeraderie experienced by travelers – not only with each other but with the countrymen of the places they visit. I’ve led small group travels and had great success with finding out what makes them tick by what places we visit. We are drawn together by our love for the destinations, but beyond that for a love of a slower pace and learning (and all the things I mentioned previously). There is a bond amongst travelers. From the two college students I met at a cafe who were visiting for their senior trip to elders finally having the time to spend journeying to foreign lands… there has not been one who has been unfriendly or unhelpful. Just so, I’ve rarely met a foreigner who was rude or unhelpful when assisting me with directions or sitting next to me at a restaurant or pub (Paris is the one exception).
I am very blessed to have a life that encompasses such vast experiences through travel. I think travel has filed down the rough edges and opened my eyes when they might not have been before. I don’t blindly take things for granted, but ask myself about the culture from which these ideas or traditions originated. And, could these experiences be implemented in my own life to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. My sensibility has never narrowed because of travel, it’s only broadened.
I am one lucky girl!