Why Travel?

12-21-15 (Glasgow) On my way to Glasgow!
On my way to Scotland. December 2015

Ah…a thoughtful question…

But the real question is, why not travel? After all, who wouldn’t want to go out and explore different places, see different things, and taste different foods other than what we are accustomed to? Who wouldn’t want to meet new and exciting people, learn about histories and cultures that otherwise aren’t taught in grade-school textbooks? Really, who wouldn’t?

I can understand that some people just aren’t interested in travel, or don’t have the money to do so. Both points are perfectly valid, especially if you haven’t grown up traveling or you make just enough to get by to pay the bills. But if you have the money and time to make it happen, then why not give it a try?

Traveling is something that I’ve been doing since I was born…literally. I don’t even remember my first airplane experience, since I was only a few months old when my mom took me to Taiwan to show me off to the family. I am told that I cried a lot as a baby, so I’m fairly certain that I gave my mom hell (and the passengers, too) while in-flight for twelve to thirteen hours. Fun fact: airplanes are not my favorite mode of transportation, even to this day.

As I got older, my parents would take me and my sister somewhere out of town at least once a year, whether domestically or overseas. From road trips to cruises to bus tours, I’ve done ’em all: on three continents in twenty-five countries in a span of twenty-three years. I have visited Rome’s Colosseum, hiked through Utah’s Bryce Canyon, seen snow for the first time in Montreal, and explored the enigmatic Reed Flute Caves in Guilin, China. Places like Lisbon, Hualien (Taiwan), and Cambria (California) have captured my heart, and the memories that I made there have been nothing but good ones.

16-02-15 (Lisbon) From the Santa Justa Lift.
From the Santa Justa Lift, Lisbon. February 2016.
Qingshui Cliff, Taiwan. July 2016.
Cambria, California. March 2015.

It’s interesting, because although I have essentially been raised to travel all my life, I didn’t fall in love with it right away. As a kid, I saw traveling as something that I did with my family, as a way to spend the summer and winter vacations not bored out of my mind at home. Yes, I enjoyed them, but I didn’t really see the value in the history, the architecture, and the culture that I was exposed to. I could reason that I was young and naive, and it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Paris during my final year in college that it all finally clicked: being on my own for the first time, away from my family in a foreign country for an extended amount of time, gave me a feeling of freedom that my time in college (only a forty-minute commute from home) couldn’t. I developed wanderlust after I returned home, and made it my mission the following year while teaching in France after graduation to go all-out. Fifteen countries, over eighty cities, and countless of memorable experiences later, and I still can’t stop (sorry, I’m addicted)!

Traveling is a privilege, I can tell you that. As I said, not everyone can afford or have the time to go. I am extremely fortunate to have seen so much of the world at such a young age, and I really do appreciate my parents for making it possible, especially when they couldn’t pay for travel when they were my age (particularly my mom, who grew up poor in Taiwan). I definitely don’t take any of my vacations for granted, since I know that it took my parents years to save up to live a comfortable, well-off life.

I also admit, it takes a lot of energy to travel; you can’t imagine how it feels to be back in the comforts of your home (on your bed) after two weeks/one month/half a year of being away (in other words, amazing). There’s also the worry about safety, the fear of getting sick with limited access to help, and the fact that sometimes, you’ll need to wear the same underwear for days just because there’s no washing machine or time to do laundry (yup, been there).

But in spite of all that, I encourage you to go. Be curious, step out, and seek something new. It can be merely an unexplored place in your hometown or half a world away. As humans, we are meant to discover as means of acquiring knowledge, and traveling is one way to do that.

…and before this post starts becoming cheesier with its already-motivational, philosophical vibe, I’ll end with this:

Why travel?

Well, why not?


— Rebecca


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