We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. ~Unknown
Make a resolution this year to travel in ways that add to your understanding of the world in which we live. The global “We” will be better for it.
Every magazine or newspaper you pick up this month will have something to say about New Year’s resolutions. Not necessarily a bad thing – it’s just that realistically, data indicates that only about 8% of us will keep any resolution we make for longer than 30 days. How terrible. That kind of a statistic begs the question, “Why bother?” How about this… I propose that any decisions about change in 2015 actually have a purpose and a goal that makes keeping the resolution easy.
A great example is travel. I saw a sign recently that read, “If travel were free, you’d never see me again.” I laughed, but I think it’s actually true.
Make a decision now to travel somewhere new in 2015. Plan for it, research your destination, and save for it. Anticipation through planning is half the fun. It doesn’t have to be exotic, just new. If you live in Kuwait and you’ve never visited Oman, or Jordan, or India, or Qatar – pick one and make a plan.
Travel doesn’t just offer the opportunity for a holiday, it also offers an education. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Of course, if you travel to a new place but eat at McDonalds or Burger King, and stay in five-star hotels, it makes sense that the opportunity to expand one’s perspective is rather limited. Five-star hotels are the same the world over, even when the décor reflects the country’s culture. There really isn’t much about this kind of travel that would challenge a traveler’s comfort zone.
This year, in 2015, add some off-the-beaten-trail destinations to your plans. Travel broadens our understanding of others and of ourselves…well, at least it has that potential. In order to understand and be understood, we need to choose exposure to ideas, philosophies, and cultures different than our own. It isn’t possible to know how others see the world unless your visit their world. A visit to Italy, or Mallorca, or India, or Tierra del Fuego is just that. A visit. Nevertheless a visit where we experience, even in a small way, the way others live can have a profound, life-changing effect. This is even more likely to be true if the travel is connected with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.
Have you ever thought about volunteering with an NGO that digs wells for villages without water? How about the opportunity to teach English or math to children in Nepal, or Cameroon, or to refugees in any one of the dozens of camps for refugees and displaced persons around the world? Doing something for others can change your life in ways you can’t imagine…unless you do it.
Wanting to change our lives is a human propensity. We are in the habit of “turning over a new leaf,” or wishing for a “cosmic do-over.” We naturally want the chance to redo or fix the things of the past that we regret, or that turned out less than perfect.
Unfortunately, life generally doesn’t cooperate. We can only try to do better in the future by learning from the mistakes of the past. One of the ways to do that is to broaden our own horizons and understanding. This is especially true of children. Traveling as a family is what I call a ‘twofer.” Not only is there the opportunity to learn, there is the added value of family memories to be cherished in the years to come.
Travel is an education all on its own. Sometimes that education is about ourselves – how we handle adversity or setbacks, and sometimes that education is about our place in the world in relation to others. There’s no downside to travel. As some anonymous person stated, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I’ve been enriched this year by the opportunity to travel to the UK, Poland, and Europe. Even though each of these visits was short, I learned something about the country, about the culture, and the food. I chose to stay in flats in areas where there are no tourists. I rode the local metro transport. I ran through the city in the early mornings. I have memories that I will share and cherish for the rest of my life.
A truly effective resolution changes us from the inside out. Travel allows us to grow emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. This is always a good thing.