The WHY of Traveling

Some days I wake up, my mood feels practical, and I start writing about miles and points deals, or how to maximize some promotion, or where to get the best cup of coffee in some city I’ve visited. But other days, I start writing and feel much more philosophical. I was thinking about this last weekend when two different friends asked me, “Why do you travel so much?”

I’m sure people ask you the same thing.

On the surface, it seems like an easy question to answer. But below the surface, the answer has deep meaning and develops over time. Since I have conversations in person with people about this, I thought why not converse in writing and see what your WHY is, and if it changes over time.

I’m not ticking destinations off some list or can even tell you how many countries I’ve been to. I sometimes return to special destinations, and don’t think everywhere I’ve been has been a fabulous adventure. I don’t enjoy buzzing in and out of a place quickly, so I prefer to settle in for a week or longer and relax into my experience. But while that’s a travel style, it still doesn’t speak to my philosophy or my WHY, does it?

I plan to travel as much and for as long as I can. That’s quite clear to me. I think when you first start traveling a lot, there’s an excitement and exuberance that can make a person almost manic about travel. The world seems so big, yet so small, and you’re afraid you’ll miss something. I went through this phase. Did you?

But like everything in life, pace and energy management matters. So I’ve settled into a pace that suits me, sometimes traveling with others and sometimes solo. This pace allows me to feel more philosophical about what I experience as I travel.

For instance, I feel it’s important for all of us to keep engaging with the world, especially as we get older. And engaging with people whose lives are different than my own gives me so much to learn and think about. Sometimes I enjoy that and sometimes I don’t. But I see it all as a big important part of the journey.

Travel has opened not only my mind but my heart, as well. It has totally expanded my thinking and has helped me become more tolerant. It’s wonderful to meet a wide range of people and grow to understand different points of view.

It’s hard not to see myself as an ambassador when I travel. I’m an ambassador for my country as well as for other adventurous women. I don’t put pressure on myself to show a certain image. I’m very ME and very real when I travel. But the majority of Americans my age, especially women, are not solo travelers, so many of the locals I meet who haven’t been to the states appreciate that I’ll take time to talk and enjoy visiting with them.

And did I mention patience? If you are at all an impatient person, you’ll for sure chip away at this tendency. Travel helps that a lot!

All of this is good for us, both as individuals and as members of both our local and global communities. And our big world needs us to keep traveling! Forgoing travel, especially as we age, just creates a smaller and smaller world. Don’t you think?

How about you, do you think the world needs travelers more now than ever? Have you developed a philosophical travel mindset about your WHY? Please share your WHY in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “The WHY of Traveling

  1. Naomi

    When I began to travel, I just wanted to see the world. But over the years, I travel because I learn a lot through meeting new people and seeing new places. Of course there’s still the aspect of enjoying. But I think the exciting things I learn from the places I visit, that’s what motivates me to learn more and more.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. shelli

      Thank you, Naomi, for taking the time to reply. I feel the same way you do! Have a great trip, wherever you are heading to next!

  2. Grant

    I’ve always thought that travel opens up your eyes to the fact that the world is so much bigger than just yourself, your family, or even your state. There’s no feeling quite like being inside an airplane for hours and looking down at those thousands of cars, small dimly lit towns, and huge glowing metropoli and thinking, “Millions of lives are happening down there. Millions of stories that I’ll never know. Babies being born, people breathing their last, birthdays, anniversaries, first kisses, all the great milestones of life, happening at once.”

    Upon arriving in a new place and exploring it, the hugeness of it all really hits again. When I’m gone, life will continue function as it has, and as it will. I’m just one blip in the chain. But at the same time, I remember. I remember the people I have met, the things I have seen, and the things I have done with those people. Everything has left an indelible mark upon me.

    Travel opens your eyes to the perfect juxtaposition of global transience and individual permanence.

    Thank you for writing this. Often, I feel like we reduce travel to just another grind or game to win and forget the original meaning and motivation behind it.

    1. shelli

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write, Grant. I agree. We are blips in such an amazing chain of life and events, we can’t even begin to grasp it. But when we remember this, I feel it adds a certain sweetness and appreciation to our travel journeys………even when we don’t leave home!

  3. Boonie

    Sometimes it depends where you live. If you live in the Midwest and want to get away from the bitter cold winter you are more inclined to seek out a tropical and warm destination.

    1. shelli

      Good point, Boonie. I often seek a climate different from where I’m living. That’s why the past two winters I’ve ventured up to British Columbia and enjoyed all the rain and snow! Great change of scenery for me.


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