I couldn’t tell you the exact moment when I caught the travel bug. It could have happened while observing ancient temples in Mexico. Or while watching the sun set over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean from a sailboat off the coast of Hawaii. Or while snapping photos of grizzly bears in Alaska. All I know now, is that the travel bug is as rooted deeply inside of me as my own identify and I don’t intend to find a cure.
I completely understand why some people don’t like to travel. There’s the hassle of rental cars, the uncertainty of other cultures, and the reality that nothing really ever compares to the comfort of your own bed. Still, for me, those are all risks and sacrifices I’m willing to make to step foot in a centuries-old Scottish castle, or snorkel with brightly-colored tropical fish off the coast of Central America.
Everyone has their own reasons for why they have, and refuse to let go of, the travel bug. Here are four of mine:
As if one could need any other reason. This foodie loves to travel to experience the unique flavors and signature dishes of the world. Before I travel anywhere, I always research the must-have items that define a location: shaved ice in Hawaii, fish and chips in London, conch in the Bahamas, reindeer sausage in Alaska. There simply is no way to devour such delicacies by staying at home. P.S.: To the good people of Portland, Oregon, I’m still not sure how you have been able to lay claim to tater tots as your signature regional dish, but your wine and coffee are simply divine.
It’s one thing to learn about the Tower of London, but it’s another thing to see it for yourself. Being there, you can almost see the ghost of the guillotine and hear the cries of the innocent—and the guilty—on the wind. So much of the world’s history has always fascinated me, but books and documentaries can only take you so far. Seeing the places where history left its indelible mark on our world is the only way to truly appreciate and understand the past.
Undoubtedly one of the best aspects of traveling is the people you meet and the stories you hear. While tour guides can be fascinating and museum docents enlightening, it’s the locals you meet unexpectedly who leave you with the most impactful lessons. It’s the fisherman who has lived his whole life on the island and has never seen the snow. It’s the jewelry maker selling her creations at the market and teaching her daughter to master the same trade. It’s the traveling salesman sitting next to you at the pub who has been around the whole world dozens of times but has never found anyplace that compares to his home. These are the people who tell the stories that teach you all you really need to know about a place.
When I look back on my life, I hope to remember a satisfying career. I hope I can recall that I gave back to my community. I wish to honestly say I left the world better than how I found it. I want memories of friends and family, but I also want memories of the world. I want to say that I climbed the 248 steps to reach the top of Teotihuacan. I want to remember exploring the barrier reef before it disappeared. I want to still imagine how it felt to cross the great wall of China, or reach the top of the Eiffel Tower, or stand at the base of the pyramids at Giza. For the chance at such memories, I’ll accept delayed flights, lost luggage, and tacky souvenirs, because life is about living, and there is a beautiful world around us to explore.