Why Travel?

Travel.  Would you believe it saved my life?  So, it's a bit surprising to think I'd have to talk anyone into it.  After all, we frequently see our favorite stars and executives jet-setting around the globe on TV and movies.  Perhaps that's part of the problem; it's seen as something only the rich and famous do.  In fact, most people in the US don't leave their county, much less their country very often.  Worldwide, most are too poor to do more than dream about it.  I'm from Southern California, where a great majority of people I know consider a trek to Las Vegas once a year "travel."  Now granted, it's five hours away by car at top speed.  In other corners of the globe one might drive through two or more countries in that amount of time, so it's travel after all, right?   Yes, but not in the important sense.  At Geekademy, it's enlightenment we seek my young padawan, not distance.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”  —Henry Miller
Still, it's a shame; without a compelling voyage under your belt you'll never realize how meaningful it can be, making it a chicken and egg problem.  Personally, if I hadn't the opportunity to travel, only seen the constant drumbeat of negative things on television, and major exposure was the time I turned eighteen and went down to TJ on a bender, well ... I don't think I could be blamed for letting it wait.

Especially so, when considering an alternate yet seductive route many misguided souls take—the purchase of a shiny new car to impress others.  Unfortunately, once the entanglements of life consolidate their grip, in the form of relationships and car payments (much like the boa constrictor), one never escapes.

Travel Changes You for the Better

That's it in a nutshell.  I know, I know ... you've heard it a thousand times.  No, not the typical American idea of a great vacation, the all-inclusive Club Med resort for 10 days, then back to work!!  I am talking about the kind of travel where one is able to live with ordinary people in a different land for a generous amount of time.  A time long enough to cultivate some understanding and learn how to live in a manner not previously accustomed.  Opens your mind it does, a wise and diminutive green alien might declare.  Without revelation, the trip is not significant.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  —Lao Tzu (Old Master)
The journey isn't truly appreciated until you've returned to your home town after a long absence and revisited it with fresh eyes.   You'll re-encounter old friends seemingly stuck in time.  They'll be talking about the same things as last year, like work, puttin' phat rims on their Camaro or 3 Series, work, work, and did I mention work?  Sure enough, the same soulless corporate shit will be on the radio.  Same ol' crapfest on the boob-tube too.  Little will have changed or improved, except yourself.

Bonus:  Inoculation to Propaganda

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness...”  —Mark Twain
One of the less frequently touted benefits soon realized is a heightened awareness to bullshit and propaganda.  As you become more knowledgeable you'll see political rhetoric under a much more critical light.

Here's a concrete example.  Recently I stumbled across a nameless TV pundit speaking on the impending healthcare bill being debated in Congress.  This individual took to disparage the system in Europe.  "Surely, we wouldn't want to end up like them," words dripping in disgust.

Now, I'm not a fan of either side of the political party in the United States, nor big-government, but after listening for a minute I already knew one thing:  This ass-clown has no idea what he's talking about.

Here at Geekademy we do our best fight the good fight against ignorance.  I've been to lucky enough to have been Europe more than once for a few months at a time and (un)fortunate enough to receive care there for a few minor and one moderate procedure(s).  The care I received was quite good and very affordable, though perhaps not extravagant.  Indeed, taking a wider view, the continent is generally very beautiful, civilized, and enjoys a high standard of living.  Anecdotal evidence not being very reliable, here's at a few reasons why European healthcare systems are rated highly and what the US could learn from them.

Yeah, wouldn't want to end up like them, would we?
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”  —Aldous Huxley
With a few facts and experience at hand, we can now better ask, what is the more likely motivation for this rhetoric?  I'd have to guess ignorance, or perhaps donations made to the right people.


Get your passport now.  They aren't expensive in the grand scheme of things, last for 10 years, and when a cool opportunity comes up (it will) you'll be ready to go, bag-in-hand ... instead of paying double to expedite/sweating bullets over whether it'll arrive in time.  A passport is one of the best investments in yourself you'll ever make.

In a future article, I'll explain how to travel on a limited budget.  Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a millionaire to travel around the globe, for months or even years at a time.

Last Word

There are people who do things, and those who watch on TV.  Which do you want to be?

1 comment:

  1. I like your thoughts.
    Thanx especially for mentioning, that Europeans are civilized :-)

    A travel geek from Germany :)