Yes, This Is Why I Travel

Ah, the lazy days of blogging when someone else says something better than you could have, so…you quote them!  I just started reading The Longest Way Home:  One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy, and on page 19, he brilliantly described the appeal of traveling.

Travel–especially by people who rarely do it–is often dismissed as a luxury and an indulgence, not a practical or useful way to spend one’s time.  People complain, “I wish I could afford to go away.”  Even when I did the math and showed that I often spent less money while on the road than staying home, they looked at me with skepticism.  Reasons for not traveling are as varied and complex as the justification for any behavior.

Perhaps people feel this way about travel because of how it’s so often perceived and presented.  They anticipate and expect escape, from jobs and worries, from routines and families, but mostly, I think, from themselves–the sunny beach with life’s burdens left behind.

For me, travel has rarely been about escape; it’s often not even about a particular destination.  The motivation is to go–to meet life, and myself, head-on along the road.  There’s something in the act of setting out that renews me, that fills me with a feeling of possibility.  On the road, I’m forced to rely on instinct and intuition, on the kindness of strangers, in ways that illuminate who I am, ways that shed light on my motivations, my fears.  Because I spend so much time alone when I travel, those fears, my first companions in life, are confronted, resulting in a liberation that I’m convinced never would have happened had I not ventured out.  Often, the further afield I go, the more at home I feel.  That’s not because the avenues of Harare are more familiar to me than the streets of New York, but because my internal wiring relaxes and finds an ease of rhythm that it rarely does when at home.

Nineteen pages in and it’s already fantastic.  I’m going to love this book!


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