Now that I’ve come back home from my expat adventure in France, I’ve had many moments of reflection. This past year, I’ve done more traveling than I could have ever imagined, and my hunger for travel has only grown because of it.
Because I have traveled so much and because I do consider myself a travel junkie, many people have asked why I love traveling so much. What is about traveling that appeals to me? Why is it something that I constantly crave? I didn’t have the answers until I started to see how different I am because of my experiences living as an expatriate and traveling, and here’s what I have to say.
I choose to travel because
1. There is something bigger than me out there
I am a Christian. I believe in God, and the more that I travel the more that I see Him and His glory in every corner that I travel. The more that I travel, the closer I feel to Him. The more that I travel, the closer I feel to understanding Him and how He works in our world. I am a firm believer that God created us all equally but differently, without much to go off of about how life works except for the Bible, which is, in my opinion, mostly metaphors and stories that we must interpret to understand. We each have our interpretations and perceptions of the world that is put in front of us. This is how we get culture, and in my opinion, this is a direct result of the variances in the world that God Himself created. I don’t believe He wanted us to all be the same. I think not only did He create all of the differences because of that, but I also believe that our differences are also a reflection on how varied, diverse, powerful, and beautiful He is, the Creator of the Universe. I see Him in mountains. I see Him in oceans. I see Him in French people. I see Him in Americans, and I get a different side of Him every time that I catch a glimpse of a different place, a different culture, or a different person.
2. It keeps the everyday life fresh
I want to see, to taste, to smell, to hear, and to feel as much of this world as possible before I leave it. Life always feels a little fresher after I’ve experienced something new. Throughout my travels I have discovered that I am not the type of traveler who can travel for months on end, without a place to call home, without a place that is ”mine.” There are many people that are like that. I’ve discovered that I’m not one of them. However, experiencing a new place does help keep the everyday things, my home fresh. Every time I’ve come back to my place after having traveled, I felt a sense of warmth and love. Seeing new places not only helps me to appreciate this world but also helps me to appreciate the everyday, little, supposed ”boring” things. It’s hard to not love life when you’ve seen so many beautiful things.
3. It helps me to meet new people
I love meeting new people. I love people. I love the innateness of being human. Humanity is fascinating, and I love being able to experience it in all of its forms. People are the most fascinating creatures. You can love them, hate them, inspire them, be inspired by them, experience joy with them, and nothing is like knowing that you are not the only one struggle with being human. We all struggle with it, no matter what culture we live in, how we live, or where we are from. Knowing that someone so completely different from me has experienced some of the some things that I have, even if it’s been in a slightly different way, is refreshing and encouraging.
4. It makes me a better person
Through traveling, I was constantly reminded of the fact that I am not the only person living in this world, and I am most definitely not the only person affected by my actions. Everything I do affects other people. Though I would’ve considered myself pretty aware of my surroundings before traveling as much as I have so far, I am much much much much more aware of them now. After having lived in France and traveled throughout Europe, I’ve become more environmentally conscious. I’ve become more patient and more polite. I’ve become more likely to pause before I react to things, trying to understand if it’s just them being rude or if it’s really just because they come from a different culture. It’s helped me to become more flexible with my expectations as well. It’s made me want to understand other people before I judge them.
5. It helps me to know myself better
When you travel, you encounter different modes of living. Maybe they eat different food or they eat their food differently. Maybe they communicate differently. Maybe they view the world differently or politics or religion. Being challenged by these differences forces me to think about why I appreciate what I appreciate, why I love what I love, and why I believe what I believe. I’ve defined my beliefs, my values, my morals, my ambitions and my goals in life, and who I am because I’ve experienced things and people that differ from me or from mine. You don’t truly get to know yourself until you are encountered by people or by a culture that greatly differs from you or your own, because if you are constantly surrounded by people or a culture that you know or that are similar, then you are never forced to question yourself or your values and beliefs.
Though traveling has become a thing that many people aim to do, this is why I choose to travel. I don’t do it just because it’s a thing to do or because other people do it. Travel is a part of me and will always be, and I never hope that changes.
What are the reasons that you choose to travel?