J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wanderlust - Balancing Extremes

Guidebook is my thing. 
I have a bad case of wanderlust today, probably brought on by the change in the season and the 1,300+ photos from a honeymoon long ago.  Suddenly, I long to be lost in a foreign city, to see and to experience new things for the first time.

Wanderlust comes and goes for me, easily and temporary appeased by a short trip out of town or an excursion somewhere new, but it never truly goes away.  I jump on every opportunity to travel, for a short trip or a long adventure.  Some people can travel once or twice and get it out of their system, I can't.  It's as much a part of me as my dark graying hair and short stature.

Why am I really writing this? I guess I want to share my love of travel with others and encourage more people to get out of their comfort zone and explore what the world has to offer.  It’s very easy and very tempting to put ourselves in an insular bubble, confined by the comfort of familiarity and secured by beliefs reinforced by likeminded friends and family.  It can be dangerous and frankly, very boring.  Travel challenges our world views and allows us to look at ourselves and our world from a different perspective.  It’s a chance to see ourselves as part of humanity.

Grand Canyon, USA
Those majestic mountains in the distance, the grand canyons of the West, the vast blue oceans and even the ruins of Rome and Great Wall of China, although claimed by a single nation or state, are really all parts of our shared human experience and history.  We owe it to ourselves to see the world, a unique wonder of the universe, and it belongs to us all.

We all have reasons why we can't travel.  When we're young, you have all the time in the world, but no money.  As a working professional, we might have a little bit of money but no time.  Take longer trips in far off places when you’re young, time is your friend.  A little money goes a long way in developing countries and you can rough and tough through it.  It’s okay to take shorter trips when you’re older, you’ll appreciate each and every day more when you know time is not on your side.  

Traveling is all about balancing between two extremes.  Spend money but also be financially responsible, opt for a shorter trip or skip that designer bag and fancy meals to save money.  Throw caution and your maps to the wind and explore, but plan and research first your destination and surrounding so you can be prepared for anything. Be friendly and talk to strangers but don’t be na├»ve or too trusting of everyone you meet.  Be spontaneous, do something risky and different, but don’t forget to bring a trusty friend, like your common sense.

I’ve been very lucky and had many opportunities to travel. If I had to do it again, I would spend a year in another country, study abroad for an extended period and do backpack trips across the continents.  I had a false sense of obligation and duty back then.  But thinking back, I wonder if it was more out of fear of the unknown.  So if you’re young and in college, don’t let anything be your excuse, just do it.  When you’re older, your life is no longer just about you, opportunities to travel are hindered by responsibilities and obligations.

The world is a book and those who stay in one place only read only one chapter, you end up missing out on a big chunk of that big wonderful story.  Start on that next chapter and see what story that book can tell you.

Excuse all the ramblings, I really just want to share these photos :) Photo creds to Frank B.