One of my favorite quotes on traveling is: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” by St. Augustine. Or, put a different way:
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” – Henry Miller.
#TeamMoonsail loves to travel for too many reasons to count, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top 8.
At the core of it, whether you have an amazing adventure, hit every tourist spot, do nothing but lie on the beach, or even experience a few fails (like missing your train or plane), you learn something. You meet people you’d never meet otherwise; you gain new perspective; you test your grit; and you lose yourself in the awe and wonder of experiencing something new and amazing or old and grand. And by learning about yourself and about another small pocket of this beautiful world, you recharge your creative juices. You come back inspired to cook new dishes at home, to incorporate new habits into your life (like the Italian la passaggiata evening stroll), or to try new styles of painting or music or dance. Beyond the health and mental health benefits of taking a break from your usual work routine and life obligations, you’ve made a new little bright spot that you can think about on rough days. You’ve cleared your head from the everyday fires that need to be put out and allowed your mind and body to rest and bring fresh ideas to your job and to your life.
Scott and I were both lucky enough to take trips to Spain in 2015. Although we took different trips — my goal was to eat my way through Spain and his was to drink Cruzcampo beer and master the duende of flamenco — we both agreed that Spain was amazing for different reasons, and that we were doing everything wrong. Coming from America’s precise, time-driven culture, it was really confusing to be in Spain. Some stores and restaurants take a siesta; some don’t. You’ll pass a place that’s bumpin’ and make a mental note to check it out on your way back to your hotel, and when you come back half an hour later, it’s completely dead–no warning. You’ll pass by a shop at the same exact time but on a different day, and it’s closed.
And, starting next week, I’m lucky enough to be jetsetting to Thailand and the Philippines. (Check out Secret Flying for too-good-to-pass-up fare deals, like my $300 round-trip ticket for this trip!, and Hungry for Points on tips to rack up miles and travel for almost free.)
But wherever you go, there are a few constants that make us love travel so much:
1. The perspective. Whether you’re traveling to another city or another country, you see how many different ways there are to do any given thing: eating, dressing, speaking, driving, signs, bathrooms, architecture, music, dance, business hours, even napping! You get to see how others do it, and maybe learn a way that works better for you! (I advocate for America to adopt: siestas, afternoon tea time, evening aperitifs and strolls, Italian cantucci cookies you dip in wine, and more vacation — hi, Australia and your month-long vacations!).
2. The food. Order everything. Try new things. Keep a list of them. Try the fancy and the simple, the known and the “here goes nothing!” Sample street food, bakeries, cafes and restaurants to taste the full culinary soul of a place. Try things you’ve had before in the States, and see how different (and tastier!) it actually is in its home country! Learn about the history and culture of the food, and get inspired to try making one or two dishes when you get home. Or at least come back being able to distinguish between what’s authentic and what’s Americanized. Leave a little bit of your heart (or stomach?) at every fantastic meal.
3. The views. Marvel at sunrises and sunsets and vistas and horizons and mountains and skylines. Take photos and selfies and just sit with a snack or drink and take a mental picture. Experience things in real life that are even more beautiful than the photo that inspired you to book your vacation in the first place.
4. The history/innovation. In so many places, the most fascinating part of travel is seeing the juxtaposition of old buildings and modern architecture; historic, famous wonders surrounded by modern kitsch. Savor the art, music, food, architecture, transportation and way of life, because what you’re experiencing will never be the same again as cultures constantly evolve.
5. The people. You get a sneak peak into the day-to-day lives of people across the world from you…it often dims out the day-to-day worries of the people in your immediate life, and forces you to make room for people you’ll never see again. Did she get on the bus on time? Is that fruit vendor going to make enough to feed his family tonight? Is that taxi driver going to get to go to school? Hopefully you carry those people back with you and think about them from time to time, and it makes you a more compassionate person who wants to change the world because you’ve met people all over the world. From the polite to the grumpy, from the rushed to the languid, it can be hilarious how different cultures move at different paces. You’ll meet people who will make an impression on you that will last a lifetime, and hopefully you positively impacted people whose paths you crossed, too.
6. The personal growth. When you’re walking around for 12 hours a day and you’re tired and hungry and have to improvise in a foreign country, you learn a lot about yourself and your travel buddies. Maybe you learn how to read a map or hone your navigation skills or get more comfortable talking with strangers when asking for directions. Hopefully, you learn how to communicate more effectively and that stays with you even when out of vacation mode. Maybe you try things you normally wouldn’t, and now you won’t be afraid to do more things at home.
7. It’s humbling. Some people are natural born travelers. They can slip into any country, make new friends, and act like a local. For others, we feel like we’re doing it wrong every single minute we’re there… and that can be a good thing, because it gives you a greater appreciation for how easy everything is at home and helps to you remember to be more compassionate to immigrants or travelers when you’re at home.
Check out our “Travel for Inspiration” Pinterest board for destination ideas domestically and internationally.