I often get asked why I want to leave home and travel. Won’t I miss everyone and everything? Won’t I get lonely? What am I running away from?
We all have our reasons for traveling – wanderlust, the love of a new culture, a desire to just leave it all behind, the need to forget, or the need to meet new people. Travel becomes a way for people to deal with different situations, experience new things, or help search for a sense of self.
And because it offers so much to so many different people, travel holds an allure for us all. St. Augustine once, “The world is a book, and he who doesn’t travel reads only one page.” I keep that quote, and a famous one by Mark Twain about having no regrets, in my mind constantly.
In the book of the world, all the pages are different. Everything is new, everything is changing. I believe that is why we travel – for the change. Whether you’re going to see a pyramid or experience a new culture, whether you are going to get away or to learn, and whether you go for a month or a year, we all go because we seek change. We seek something different. A change in self, attitude, daily routine, or impressions of another culture, change is the one thing travel brings us.
The constant change creates a chance for us to come to terms with the world around us and find out who we are.
In this modern world of 9 to 5, mortgages, carpools, and bills, our days can get pretty regimented and become pretty boring. Typically, our days rarely exhibit huge change. Under the weight of everything, we often lose track of what’s important to us and what our goals are. We get so caught between commutes and errands or driving the kids to soccer, that we forget how to breathe and to smell those roses.
When I was home, I could plan out my days months in advance. Why? Because they weren’t going to be much different – commute, work, gym, sleep, repeat. Yet on the road, every moment represents a new beginning. No day is the same. You can’t plan out what will happen because nothing is set in stone. No commutes, no errands, no scheduled meetings. Just you and your whim.
Over the last few years, I’ve always experienced constant change. Places, cultures, cities, countries were always changing. No day was (or is) ever like the last. In fact, every day is so different, that I sometimes wonder if I haven’t lived three lifetimes already.
This lifestyle is not for everyone but, for those that go, I notice the subtext of change in the reasons for their desire to leave. We want to see the world, see something different, see something change. The new, the exciting, the different, and the adventure – it’s all there when you travel. Your days no longer are dictated by business hours, but by the changing winds of your own heart.
Out in the sea of freedom, with no compass to guide us, with nothing to force our direction, we all sail onward.
We all want something different from our daily routine, something to challenge us. People thrive on variety (it is the spice of life after all!): it is hardwired into our brains. Nobody wakes up and is grateful for sitting eight hours in a cubicle. No. All we talk about is getting out of it. Breaking the walls down and…..going somewhere different.
We are looking for something new, something unseen – the next page in the world’s book, if only for a little while. That’s what makes travel so interesting, intriguing, and inviting to us all. It calls us. It beckons us to come with it to new lands and unfamiliar retreats. It gives us a respite and sanctuary from the chaos and regimented world of 9 to 5. It shows us new places, people, and cultures. It’s always giving us something new – not only outwardly, but also inwardly.
I am in the driver’s seat on this road, and though it’s mostly unseen, I can read the only signpost on it – “Change Ahead” – and do nothing but smile. As I look around at the other drivers, I see them smiling, too. We all smile together, knowing something new is just up around the bend – a new adventure, a new challenge, a new lover, or a new friend.
We crave the new – and it’s right around the next bend.
We can feel it.
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Note: This article was originally published in 2008.