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To travel is to live

Divendres, 1 de Juliol del 2016

Read our July article.

         “To travel is to live,” said Hans Christian Andersen, and it’s rare I meet anyone who would disagree. After saving up for the last couple of years, this summer I’m lucky enough to be heading out to the USA, where I’m going to spend seven weeks crossing the country. Having dreamt of traversing North America since I was a teenager, it doesn’t yet feel real; it’s something I can’t quite envisage, frequent shivers of anticipation notwithstanding. To travel is to live, after all - for a great number of reasons.

The benefits are plentiful. To leave the comfort zone of your daily life is something powerful. It will open your eyes to the differences in how other towns, cities and countries live - some of them tiny, others enormous. It will remind you of the vastness and diversity of the planet we live on, and, if you’re lucky, of the common humanity we share.

When travelling, free from the constraints of work and routine, by necessity you will find yourself more open, and more willing to seek out the advice and help of others, whether they be natives or fellow travellers. Hospitality often transcends barriers such as language, and the friendships you strike up may surprise you in their intensity or how long they last.

That’s not to say that ditching your regular lifestyle for a backpack or a suitcase will always be easy; as genuinely willing to help as many people are, there will be those who are looking to take advantage of the boom in travel and tourism, and situations in which you will feel uncomfortable or unsure. The trick is, as difficult as it may seem, to embrace all this: to do your best in any given moment and to learn from your experience. You will emerge smarter, stronger and more confident a traveller - and a person - as a result.

Should you visit poorer countries, encountering the hardships that so many of the world face on a daily basis will open your eyes to things that previously seemed impossible to comprehend. While my forthcoming trip is the realisation of a dream I’ve had for many years, friends of mine have recently visited Turkey and Greece, and the impact of their time there has had a profound effect on them. There are many reasons to travel: from giving yourself a break to helping others… A literal world of experiences awaits.

The act itself can slow time down. It gives you a reason to turn off social media and take a break from Facebook and emails, and it gives you a reason to return to them, if you like. It can teach you to appreciate what you have, while learning about what is important to others. Other ways to communicate, other ways to relax. Other ways to live.

So, save some money, if you can. Take a few weeks off and see the world some. The author Terry Pratchett wrote: “Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving,” a sentiment that I’m sure Hans Christian Andersen - and myself, and perhaps most people - would agree with.

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