Thoughts On Travel

by Matt on January 14, 2011

A collection of old passports. Oh, the 80s!

This morning we’re heading to the Post Office to renew our US Passports. We’ve got a break in our international travel schedules and figured this is a perfect time to renew without having to expedite the process. Updated photos, new addresses, the need for new blank pages, this clerical renewal gives me a moment to reflect on past and future travels.

I haven’t a clue where the decade went. It was 10 years ago that I was updating this passport in preparation for a trip to Spain. Even though I know my little old blue book will be returned, I can’t help but feel sentimental as I flip through pages of stamps from different countries, some legible, some not. We’ve been many places, this little book and me.

I’ve dreamt of travel my whole life, of transporting myself to locations and cultures quite different than my own. Growing up with grandparents that moved from Mexico to the United States at the beginning of the century may have something to do with my fascination for travel. I was always aware that there was another side to them, a magical window one could pass through where everything was different. I knew where they came from and it wasn’t where we were.

Our family travels never took us to far away places; family vacations consisted of regular trips out west to California from Texas and an occasional visit to Mexico. But what I discovered about California at age 7 left an indelible mark on my brain. It was the land of fun in the sun, of television and music, of food that tasted different and an energy and lifestyle that I knew I had to be a part of. Living in California has always been a part of my plan. I love this place with all my heart.

To me, traveling is magic. And it’s a type of magic that engages every single part of my human being. It reaches and overloads all my senses. Yea, I know it’s expensive and it’s exhausting sometimes, but it satisfies me like almost nothing else. But apart from what it does to my wallet and waistline, I think the most important thing travel does is helps me become a better human being. I think traveling helps everyone become a better human being. We learn that cultural differences are nothing more than a set of ways about doing and believing something–underneath that we are all human. We share the same quest for love and happiness, we all want the best for ourselves and our families. We’re much more alike than we are different. Traveling constantly reminds me of this.

And yes, going places and connecting with people is even enough to make the hassles of travel worthwhile, at least to me. Delays, frustration, tedious checkpoints and long lines will never diminish my experiences and memories of travel. There’s no way it possibly could.

So now I ask the travelers out there: why do you travel?