“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– Saint Augustine
In my 27 years, I have traveled to six of the seven continents and engaged with people from all corners of the globe. Traveling has pushed me outside my physical, mental and cultural comfort zone. More than anything or anyone else, it has been my most valuable teacher.
My travel philosophy is simple, perhaps even cliche, but it works.
When you explore the world outside of yourself, do it with a loving and open heart, trust in the inherent goodness of people and cast aside what you think you know about the world.
One year ago, I traveled through India with a veteran friend of mine who exemplified this philosophy. He had only left the US once before that trip. Although relatively new to the art of traveling, he chose to become a part of India.
While haggling with street vendors in Jaipur, just to further engage with them, he took the time out of his day to see if he could sell them something out of his pocket. He didn’t know Hindi and they didn’t know English, but he found a way to communicate with them.
I could tell from their faces they had never been on the receiving end of a street sale, but they enjoyed his efforts nonetheless.
Without any fear, he ate at every hole-in-the-wall joint I took him to. He stood out like a pale white man in a sea of brown people, but he still made himself at home.
In Mumbai, with only some concern for how stupid he looked, and he did look stupid, he picked up two sticks and danced in a traditional Gujarati dance known as Dandiya.
Throughout India, he made a conscious effort to talk to and engage with everyone he met. He trusted that they would return his kindness.
He wanted to experience it all. He wanted to be a part of India. By being open to the country and its people, he returned home with a better understanding of the human community. He let the experience change him.
For me, that is the key purpose to traveling. We must grow from each trip we take. We must learn something new about the planet and ourselves. That makes it worth it.
Traveling allows us to see how different we are from each other, but even with these differences we are also all the same. Each new world. Every new culture. They illustrate our individuality and our commonality at the same time. That is the beauty of this art.
So when you travel next, take some risk. Be smart about it, but make sure to feel at least a little uncomfortable. In the unknown, you will find possibilities. For possibility and opportunity can only exist in that which is not familiar. That which is outside of our current understanding of the world.
What would be the point of traveling if you leave your home only to replicate those conditions on the other side of the planet?
If we were to keep everything around us familiar and comfortable, how would anything exciting ever occur? How would we grow?
I hope that the stories I share in the coming days will inspire you to get out there on your next adventure.
Just go with love and you will get back more than you ever thought possible. As Victor Frankl said, “the salvation of man is through love and in love.”