I am reminded of a quote I read recently, "We wander for diversion, but we travel to enrich our minds." How true this is! We travel with purpose, or at least I do. Traveling stimulates all of our senses and opens us up to new experiences. Traveling is, for me, a way to see the world far beyond the borders of my home. Traveling makes me think. Traveling, especially internationally, makes us more accommodative towards cultures, food, people, and language that is far different than our own. Traveling makes us more accepting. We see how much more alike we are than we are different. Mark Twain once said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigogrty, and narow-mindedness." Smart man.
And traveling alone, as I usually do, introduces us to a very introspective process that we often can't get at home, surrounds by friends, families, and daily demands. We have to give thought about what we want to eat, where we want to go, what we want to see and learn. Being alone as a travler gives us an opportunity to see things in a way that isn't influenced by others. We make our own decisions.
When I travel, which isn't as often as I'd like, I try to immerse myself in the local culture to the greatest extent possible. I stay in short-term apartment rentals instead of hotels. This allows me to shop in local markets and to meet a few of my neighbors. I stroll the streets that are not usually on the tourist route and I dine in the local, out-of-the-way, restaurants and cafes. I become a native, if ony for a week.
Spring is the perfect time to plan your travel experience. Research all the places you've longed to visit, then prioritize them. Try to vist at least one place every year, or so. Having a much-anticipated trip to look forward to can help make any difficult days more pleasant. For me, there's nothing more uplifting than looking at travel brochures or reaching far-away places online. And should an international trip not be in your future, you can still travel...just plan something locally. You'll be pleasantly suprised how much there is to learn about the place you live; things you may not have known or have ever seen. The biggest point to remember about travel, is to be open-minded. Travel is meant to make us better, not to make us feel worse. Tell yourself, before you leave, that you'll enjoy each experience whether you initially like it...or you don't. Remind yourself, periodically throughout your trip, to relax and appreciate the world that's open for your to explore! Travel is, indeed, one purchase that makes us richer.