I have never been able to understand people who don’t see the point in traveling. The common reason is that traveling is a waste of time and money. I’ve heard some are scared to travel too far away. I can’t help but feel sorry particularly for those who perceive the experience of seeing a new place as a 100 % negative one. Telling them stories about unusual encounters doesn’t result in the expected curiosity but a ‘Why would you wanna go there!?’ It makes me lose faith in humanity. Experience is the best teacher and knowledge is power. The things traveling can teach you are beautiful because you learn to trust in what you see rather than what you are told. And you learn that possibilities for yourself are endless.
Simply believing what others say has formed many problematic situations in the past. And yes I am talking about historical events involving prejudice due to what we are told about what we don’t know. In some cases xenophobia-causing stories are passed on from generation to generation. With all these factors bumping into each other, it’s almost understandable why some people fear traveling.
It was Mark Twain who said, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,’ which in my mind goes down as the closest to the truth about traveling. Too bad there aren’t enough people with the means to travel actually doing it. It could be fear, it could be a lack of interest and curiosity. Somehow, I believe, our grandparents’ stories and the negative portrayal of many countries in the media is still more dominating than it should be. But a country and its people shouldn’t be judged by a couple of devils among them. You should be the one to spread the word about your positive travel experiences, no matter how unusual they might be. If you have the means to go abroad, you should do it despite going out of your comfort zone. You might only realise why you loved it once you’re back home but you are more than likely to want to do it again.
This is exactly what leads to another reason why traveling is like therapy. I think it’s the best thing you could do if you feel depressed at home, don’t know what to do with your future, your life, your partner, anything. Once you are away, preferably somewhere very new and unknown, you are forced to adapt and meet people. This works especially if you travel alone but no worries, it worked for me when I traveled with my Mother and sister. A new life and especially the new relationships you build, even if only for a short period of time, reveal opportunities and views you never would have thought of and had otherwise.
When I was 17, I moved to Britain to finish high school abroad as I thought it would improve my chances of getting a job in an English speaking country. After experiencing everything but what I had planned, I traveled to Croatia for three weeks. The people I have met there taught me to be laissez-faire and I have realised that I could just return home, work harder and return to do what I want to do: enroll on the course I’m doing now. Even though going back again to finish school meant that two years of my life could be perceived as wasted, it never felt like that to me. I had to go away from home for a year to see what I don’t want. And I had to travel for three weeks to realise how to get what I want.
What if none of this happened? If I picture myself not having gone away, I would probably have finished school with results nowhere close to equivalent to my capacity and possibly given up on myself. I would probably be working a sh***y job daydreaming about being where I am now. And even writing this makes me appreciate the times I’ve been away. Without them I would not have known what to do with my life. I wouldn’t say I ‘found’ myself as the meaning of that has always been unclear to me and I don’t know if humans are boring enough to ever want to ‘find’ themselves.
I know now that life only feels empty when there’s nothing to look forward to. And I know that the best way to fix that is to leave your daily life. Being lost for a while helps you find yourself, I’ve heard. Well, it helps you figure out what to do next, too. Even if that means going away again. You’ll return home working towards something and appreciating having traveled more than ever. This is why I’ll never stop traveling. It’s like a virtuous cycle and I’m currently at ‘working hard towards something’ o’clock.
I could go on about the beauty of traveling because there is so much to it. Is it cheesy to say that I believe if everyone traveled, the world would be a better place?
by Olga Kramer