How Traveling Changed Me...
The first time I flew on an airplane I was 17 years old. I had signed up for my Highschool’s annual Europe trip, and was fortunate that my parents paid for most of the expenses, I had to save up for the rest. For my inaugural trip leaving my home country of Canada, it was very exciting. Starting with an eleven hour flight on a plane that had two levels with connecting stairs (I didn’t even know such planes existed!), I began an exploration of five countries in two weeks. I saw buildings and paintings I had studied in books, ate food that was far from my usual western Canadian routine, and experienced differences in language, culture, weather, economics, and politics.
And I had caught the travel bug.
I didn’t even know it at the time. But what I’ve learned over the thirty years and many trips and travels since then, is that your life expands, your perspective broadens, and your heart opens..... when you see the world that exists beyond your own backyard.
“So much of who we are is where we have been” ~ William Langewiesche
I recall returning home from that trip, all my money spent, all thirteen rolls of film ready for developing (remember those days?), and a sense of numbness from all that I saw and did over the past two weeks. My parents were eager to hear about my trip abroad, about everything...... but I needed time to digest. The experiences affected all my senses and were shaping me.
It was perhaps months, if not years later, when I would hear myself share a story of a place I had been, or hear someone else describe something I could relate to because of what I had seen or experienced in another country, that I understood the magnitude of the impact of that trip, and therefore all of my future travels.
I love to travel. I love the adventure, the challenge, the connection, and the learning that I achieve through this hobby. One of my life’s goals is to travel to each continent before I die. My husband has checked in with me “Does that include Antarctica”? Well yes, yes I guess it does. Considering how much I despise the cold I can understand why he asked the question. That trip won’t be my favourite, I suppose. But you never know!
Did you know that there are health benefits to travelling, and there has been scientifically measurable results published? A large study sponsored by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that men who took vacation were 32 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease. The University of Pittsburgh determined that taking vacation treats depression and causes positive emotional levels. And a study by Cornell University shows that the money spent on experiences such as travel provides longer-lasting happiness compared to the short-term feelings of a material purchase.
There are many more studies to support the benefits of travel, but rather than spend time researching those....... I suggest mapping out your next travel destinations, near and far. If you don’t already have the travel bug, I highly recommend it!