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Can Travel Change the World?

When I think about where to travel next, I think of this quote by Susan Sontag:

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

I’m smiling now, just reading her words.

Here are a few protests I hear against travel:

  • It’s too expensive.
  • It’s too difficult to plan.
  • I don’t have anyone to watch my kids.
  • There’s plenty to see here.

To which my responses are:

  • Travel doesn’t have to be super expensive. Yes, it costs money. But if you can afford to hit the amusement park and go out to dinner, it’s do-able.
  • It’s not difficult. It can, however, be time consuming.
  • Take your kids with you!
  • Have you seen all of it?

I have a dear friend who has no interest in international travel, and I simply can’t get my mind around that idea. But even if you’re with her, travel doesn’t have to mean cafés in Europe or safaris in South Africa. It doesn’t even have to mean flying on a plane. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are right here in our country. If you’re willing to drive, you can find them.

I’ve written (too much?) about my perceived benefits of travel: travel with kids, without kids, travel as a kid.  And I didn’t even mention the obvious: to relax and enjoy ourselves without the weight of our usual day-to-day responsibilities. And although relaxing is important, my experience is that it’s rarely the sole benefit of time in a new place.

There are so many different cultures and landscapes right here in our country, within each region, even, that I’m not sure we can ever experience all of them. But my biggest argument for trying is this: Compassion. Understanding. Grace.  It’s a big world, filled with millions of people’s lives and thoughts and experiences. Imagine what it would be like if we all learned from each other.

I’m not sure if travel can change the world. But I know it can change your life.

Agree? Disagree? Why do you travel?