Yesterday was my birthday – a milestone year, if you believe in that sort of thing. Unlike years past, I wasn’t on any foreign adventure or fantastic trip. I love to travel on my birthday because it combines my cardinal rule for birthdays (one day, of 365, that is all about you) and my desire to learn about new places. Traveling on my birthday let’s me celebrate, reflect, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around me. This year, however, I didn’t travel. After 4 months of being back in D.C., I am still getting settled and, with out-of-town visitors for the weekend, had no desire to plan/execute a trip to fit in with all that or go mad in trying.
This didn’t stop me from reflecting on the past 5 decades (I really only remember snippets from 4). A common thread among all of them, has been travel. Travel has always been ‘a thing’ with me. For as long as I can remember, someone in my family was traveling, reading about traveling, looking at travel photos (or slideshows – remember those?), or planning to travel. My whole life I have been fascinated with maps and globes and the wonders the hold on their two dimensional facades.
As I continued to reflect, I began to wonder, “Has travel made me a better person?”
I’d like to think so. I’d like to think I am more tolerant, kind, and patient because of my travel experiences. Getting out of your comfort zone, eating strange new cuisine, experiencing how locals live is eye-opening. What we take for granted in the U.S. may be a luxury elsewhere that very few have. Something as simple as a bar of hotel soap can’t be taken for granted. Expecting a hot shower and getting a trickle of icy water? That’s part of the adventure and being thankful for that is a great way to be.
It can be challenging to maintain this optimism when you are going on no-sleep and 4 times zones, but looking back on all my travel experiences, I can confidently state that I am a better person for having seen truly how fortunate I am. I have clean, running water. I have easy access to qualified medical care. I have more food than I need, and I have a safe place to sleep each night.
As Wallace Stevens said: “The most beautiful place in the world, is of course, the world itself.” Travel really does broaden your horizons, educates you, and humbles you. So to celebrate my birthday, let me give you the gift of a few travel quotes that I love.
Thanks for stopping by!