****warning: once you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there is no turning back****
I’m in the middle (or past the middle and several rounds in) of applying for something (details to come….only if I’m accepted ;)) and I’m being forced to organize my thoughts on why I think people should travel.
Traveling is important because…
The challenges it brings
Challenges might include squatty potties (I am a self-professed squatty snotty, BUT I can do it!), eating whatever is in front of you (even if you just want to throw it up), bouldering in GAP flats and a maxi-skirt, or even living in an excessively wealthy part of the country where Audis, BMWs and Ferraris are commonplace.
Your heart breaks
The US has poverty, but it also has a lot of programs to lift people out of poverty. Traveling has allowed me to witness how a lot of the world lives, what drives people to sell themselves and how not all children have the opportunities to go to school and dream.
Helps you encounter compassion
Because my heart has been broken, I know live to love. I love people before they give me reasons to love them. Poor, rich, old, young, foreign or not- everyone has a story and if I sat and listen to each one of them I know that I would be more aware of their sufferings and how to help them (whether it be prayer, a job, or just an open ear).
Stereotypes are broken through your travels
I don’t see people from the Middle East as evil or terrorists. I don’t see people from Latin America as immigrants. Koreans aren’t annoying tourists or my ancestors. Californians are really like the SNL skit Californians (just kidding). People are people. I am not the American stereotype. I don’t like that people put me in a stereotype and traveling has made sure that I don’t put others in the position too.
Your worldview/ politics can change/ become solidified through traveling
Meeting with families who sent their sons, husbands and dads to the US for work changed my view on illegal immigrants. Being in countries that recently ended their civil war or are in a war helped me decide how I felt about these wars, or the changes that can be brought because of war. The importance of education and the government’s role in that has changed because I’ve been in countries where education was rare AND where education was extreme (not getting home until 11pm because of school, no thank you. Not being able to go to school because you had to help around at home, no thank you too).
Traveling educates you better than books/ the internet ever could
I mentioned war above. I learned so much more about Guatemala’s civil war, Saddam Hussein, the Ba’ath party and the Korean Conflict by going to these countries. I recognize what freedom feels like because I’ve been in countries where I didn’t have very much. Languages have been cemented because they were necessary to use. Documentaries are great, but sitting across from a person in a coffee shop and talking about religion, evacuating because of war, or what’s next for the country all burn much brighter in my memory than a great Frontline episode.
It’s an adventure every time
Almost crossing the border into Iran? check.
Not showering for 7 days and working in lettuce fields? check.
Going to the bathroom next to chickens? check.
Living with 8 girls or 6 guys? check.
Getting lost in every country I’ve been in, but by grace getting to where I needed to be? check.
It all does come to a few BIG IDEAS why I believe in traveling which is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and living life outside of technology. Even though I’m the first to admit how addicted I am to my Blackberry (my phone even has a name, that’s how attached I am), I do believe that people should all put down their phones, tablets, ect when they’re in the company of others or for just a few hours each day and LIVE.
Do you have any great travel stories because you wanted out of your comfort zone? What do you think the BIG IDEA behind traveling is? Is traveling even that important? Any ideas of countries I MUST go to?