|Angels Landing from the valley floor,|
Zion National Park, Utah, USA
If you asked 50 travel junkies those questions, you'd likely get 50 different answers, but I'd be willing to bet that most of them wouldn't be all that different from mine, at least in spirit: Because, in getting lost, you'll stumble over people and experiences you didn't know were missing from your life. Because finding a way to communicate with people who live a world away from where you grew up shows you just how how much you have in common, despite the differences in your lifestyles and looks - and because those differences can open your eyes to new ways of doing things, or make you better appreciate your own life. Because beauty - in architecture, in nature, in people - is worth seeking out. And because nothing is more exhilarating than stepping over the edge of your comfort zone and free-falling into as-yet unknown experiences.
|Les arènes: Inside the Roman amphitheatre,|
Travel can be terrifying. If you venture away from home often enough, there will inevitably be moments when you want nothing more than to be back where things are simple and figuring out how to interact with the people around you without offending anyone or making a mockery of yourself doesn't take every ounce of brainpower you have. You will likely get sick or hurt at inopportune moments, be scorned by locals who think you should have stayed at your home and well away from theirs, and wonder, once you're past the point of no return on some adventurous outing that required you to sign away the operator's liability for your life, what the hell you were thinking.
Those moments, however, are few and far between and almost always make you laugh at some point down the line. Most of the time, travel is wonderful. You can admire the colors in a national park and wonder just how long it took for such beauty to be carved out of the earth. You can stand at the Pont du Gard or the Roman amphitheatre in Arles and marvel at how such huge constructs have stood for so long without mortar. You can take a walk or a hike and wonder about the thousands of other feet that have been there - who they belonged to, what those people saw, their reasons for coming. You can exchange a smile with someone who was raised in a culture radically different from yours and treasure a brief conversation that you'll never forget. Or you can sit, at a café, on a park bench, on a curb, and watch the world go by, with all its similarities to and differences from the world you know.
|Looking back down the path to Inis Mór's|
Dún Aonghasa, toward the Irish Sea.
Travel is personal, with a lot of self-discovery wrapped up in any trip, but whether you travel alone, with friends or with a group, it's also something to be shared. Each new memory you make expands your view of the world and every experience you have can be helpful to the people around you, those you already know and those you have yet to meet.
So, why travel? Pick a reason, there are hundreds. I think a more difficult question to answer is "Why not travel?" I can't think of a single answer that isn't outweighed by the benefits of travel and the discoveries it yields. Can you?