Siting on the train home from work, I was thinking.
I spend a large amount of my disposable income and annual leave going away on holiday or travelling, if there is a difference between the two. I could have saved a small fortune and enjoyed many more lazy days had I chosen to keep my holidays to a fortnight in the sun once a year.
So why do I travel?
To add a bit of context, I live in the UK about 20 miles from the center of London. For the purpose of my blog post, I am largely making reference to my reasons for travelling outside of the UK.
The world is an amazing and beautiful place
It goes without saying that the world is an amazing and beautiful place, and travel is necessary to see much of it.
I could stretch this over countless blog posts, so I’ll be brief.
From the African savannas to the Amazon. The Northern Lights, colossal icebergs breaking off Antarctica and bioluminescence seas. Ancient Roman amphitheaters, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids. The Galapagos Tortoise to the Bengal tiger. Victoria Falls, the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef.
This is but a fraction of what our amazing planet has to offer, both natural and man-made.
Photo: Greenland (2013)
Meeting new people
If you travel – especially solo – you will meet people from every corner of the world and all walks of life.
Your friends at home are likely to be similar to you, this is often the reason we become friends in the first place. However there is something to be said about meeting people from a completely different background, with completely different ideals and customs. Spending time with them sharing experiences.
You won’t always get on with everybody, but I have met so many wonderful people while traveling.
Sometimes this has only been for days, chance bringing us to the same hostel or hotel. Other times this has been for longer, a two month trek through Australia with a douzen strangers, later good friends. These are friendships born from people being at the same place at the same time doing the same thing; this doesn’t make them any less special than those at home.
Sadly plans to visit people I have met on my travels more often than not fail to materialise. But I know I have a sofa to sleep on in many countries and I have so many fond memories of friendships made, however brief.
Culture is defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.
Our day-to-day life is largely routine and spent immersed in our own culture. Needless to say, to experience other cultures you need to travel. It isn’t going to come to you.
Trying to speak another language, bartering in markets, eating food you cannot pronounce and would rather not question what it has been made from. Dazzling colours, intoxicating smells and being baffled by custom and practices that are alien to our own. La Tomatina.
You cannot experience these without travelling.
Ordering a Chinese Takeaway on Just Eat or visiting the local Italian Restaurant for pizza doesn’t count.
The UK is a wonderful place, but without leaving its boarders there is a whole world of things you’ll likely miss out on. Literally.
Snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef, skiing in the Alps (sorry Scotland), white water rafting trips down the Colorado River, hiking through the Rockies. Sailing between the Greek Islands. I think you get the idea.
Virtual Reality may be catching up, but you can’t beat the real thing.
Everybody can relate to this one.
Sometimes we just need to chill out.
A week by a swimming pool with a beer and a book in the Canary Islands can be just what is needed sometimes.
Perhaps the real question should be, why wouldn’t I travel?