Why I Travel


BootsnAll, a favorite travel website of mine, is hosting an Indie Travel Challenge – starting today! I thought it’d be a great way to reflect on what travel means to me, and why it’s such an important part of my life.  On some days, I’ll be answering questions, and on others, I’ll have action items to complete.  It’s basically travel truth-or-dare.

Why did you first start traveling?

Teenage me feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco, Venice. In NYC, this would have been disgusting. In Italy… well, at least the birdseed contains birth control.

There are so many ways to tackle this question! Since I was born, my family has regularly traveled 3000 miles to the west coast to visit my aunt, so the idea of packing my bags and flying great distances was far from foreign to me.  My first international trip was to Niagara Falls (back when U.S. residents didn’t even need a passport!), however, I wouldn’t say this made a major impact on me.  In 2005, however, my family visited Italy and Israel for 3 weeks. That was definitely the first time I’d seen a culture very different than mine, and I was hooked! Not everything was great (I was a teenager stuck on a 3-week family trip, after all), but it was eye-opening and exciting nonetheless.

Why did you continue to travel?

For me, there is nothing in the world like traveling to a new place.  The U.S. is such a new country, and we lack amazing mysteries like Stonehenge, the pyramids of Egypt, and Angkor Wat.  But travel isn’t all about the big things – it can take the mundane everyday and make it exciting.  Seeing what others eat for breakfast can be an amazing discovery (I still dream of those cheesy, carby Turkish breakfasts…).  When I lived in Korea, just walking to work could be fun.  I’d pass squid and cuttlefish in tanks outside restaurants, pojangmachas (street food stands) with odeng steam billowing into the street, and cell phone stores blasting K-pop at unsafe decibels.  Back in the U.S., the same practices seem expected and ordinary, and sometimes even annoying.  Traveling is like being a child again – the world is new and there is so much still to learn.

All of the convenience store ramen you can dream of - and eat in the shop.
All of the convenience store ramen you can dream of – and eat in the shop.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow’s post, when I discuss experiences vs. possessions – and not only discuss, but have to eliminate a few things and write about my experience.  For someone who is constantly trying to pare down… this will be interesting.

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