Why Do We Travel? We asked some of our most regular GoNOMAD Travel Writers
Our partner, Allianz Travel Insurance, asked us to share some interesting answers to a very simple question. Why do we travel? So we got in touch with our top contributors and they shared their points of view. Please add your comments and tell us why YOU travel, and what makes it important to you.
Faye S. Wolf, Travel Writer, Northampton Mass
I travel because travel shakes things up, gives me energy and takes all my energy.
I like to go to new places and to return to beloved places. To run around like a crazy person somewhere trying to cram as much art into my day and my head as I can.
To sink down onto a tippy chair at an outdoor cafe, linger over a coffee or a drink, and savor what the Italians call dolce fa niente–the pleasure of doing nothing–as a parade of workers, shoppers, parents, children, strangers, make their mysterious way past me.
I’m after color, texture, tastes, smells, faces: after grandeur, the quotidian, vistas and details, city streets and sullen seas. I go ready to be delighted, exhausted, sated, even (a little) frightened.
For the chance to look down on the curl of Cape Cod from a plane or look out a train window at a speed-blurred field of crocus, and know that I will never have that exact moment again … but maybe for always. To get close and to step back. To feel my aloneness and my membership in the world.”
Christopher Ludgate, Senior Travel Writer, of New York City
“Sometimes it’s as simple as the smile, some eye contact, and a friendly gesture from a dapper local during a morning walk on the easy-going streets of Madrid, for instance, that takes me to the heart of my pleasure in traveling.
There is a freedom, an enthusiasm, an intrigue that I begin to experience with that. It is often introspective, and I contemplate, absorb, and ponder the experience again. The core of the journey and my telling the story is to take the readers with me. Inspiration is where it’s at.
As personal as travel can be to a writer or photographer, many professionals who I have traveled with also know how to have fun; how to really let it be an adventure. And therein is part of the joy of travel – meeting some special people along the way, forming bonds, sometimes keeping them close to you – that’s an especially sweet part for which I am also always grateful.
I think the thrill is being open to the wonderment out there and finding a connection can often be part of what makes those journeys fulfilling.”
Sonja Stark Travel Writer, Selkirk NY
“I travel (and share the experience) for the love of humanity and the love of this planet! Travel teaches and inspires me to be pro-active, contribute and make a positive impact. While it may be easier, even safer, to learn about foreign cultures in a book or on a monitor, experiences are life-defining.
The act of ‘being there, doing that’ enriches the soul and grows the mind. Whether I’m trying some alien cuisine in Malasia or exploring the depths of the Blue Hole in Belize, or donning a headscarf to enter a holy shrine in Israel, I’m at my best.
My senses are heightened, I feel more connected to others and I even act younger. It’s travel that challenges us to understand and appreciate the fragility of life and our planet. It’s sharing that experience that helps others to do the same.”
Cathie Arquilla, Travel Writer, Pelham Manor NY
“I experience my deepest sense of self when I’m exploring a new place. It’s like I get reacquainted with the person I already am- my best self, adventurous, curious, learning, creating and just BEING.
There is so much out there right now about mindfulness and living “in the moment.” When I’m traveling, my mind doesn’t wonder, I’m engaged in my new surroundings, I’m generally more relaxed and focused. I’m living in the moment! So for me, traveling–exploring a new culture, restaurant, river or sidewalk! Travel gives me this heightened sense of awareness, and that is intoxicating!”
Mary Charlebois, Travel Writer, Fort Bragg, CA
“I grew up as a Nomad. My Mother was always moving. Travel has been a lifelong hunger implanted and nurtured by Mom. Her nickname for me was Mary Go.
Mom gave me a map, and I selected our route and stops. My choices could be based on place-names I thought were curious, like Robber’s Cave or Gila Bend. Sometimes I chose landmarks or attractions.
On a trip from Southern California to Salinas, I took us through the San Francisco Bay Area – I wanted to cross the Dumbarton Bridge. I liked the name. The year Route 66 debuted on television a summer road trip developed. History often guided my selections.
Galveston fascinated me after hearing about life there during the war. The Alamo had been in my state history lessons that year. It was smaller than I imagined.
My travel hunger has persisted since those trips with Mom and my sister. I can be packed and ready to go without hesitation and little or no itinerary. Today, I am enticed to travel by sights, sounds, fragrances, textures, food, music and art.
I’m inspired and energized by wildlife, history, architecture, geology, and especially people. My enchantment with travel has flourished and matured since those childhood trips, but one thing hasn’t changed – the hunger – it can only be satisfied by going.”
Jackie Sheckler Finch, Travel Writer, Bloomington Indiana
“As a child, travel meant one of two places – either we were heading to Cincinnati to look at the Christmas lights or we were going to Kentucky to visit my grandparents. Any other destinations outside of our small Ohio hometown were virtually impossible.
But that didn’t mean that I didn’t go to faraway exotic places every chance I got. At school, I devoured National Geographic magazines. I thought those lands and those people must be so different. At Miami University, I took my first plane ride, sold my first travel article and I was hooked.
For most of my adult life, I have been a newspaper reporter and photographer. And the more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve seen how much we are alike. I discovered a one-eyed fisherman in the Australian Outback who carried in his pocket a marble that he had slowly worn smooth over the years.
I met a retired fella in Kentucky who whiled away his time playing marbles on a dirt floor with buddies even older than he was. One of his lucky marbles he had made as a young boy. Separated by so many miles and such different cultures, these two men shared much in common.
Travel has changed my life in many ways. Most importantly, it has taught me that we are much more alike than I thought as a child. No matter where we live, our lives are tied together as we travel from birth to death. Common threads connect us. Years of taking to the road have proven that to be true. I eagerly await what is over the hill and around the next bend.”
Paul Shoul, Staff Photographer and Travel Writer, Northampton Mass
“There are moments on the road while I am traveling on assignment when I pause and reflect on where I am and how I got there. Some call it “Mindfulness” a form of meditation to become fully present. I stop worrying about deadlines and flight schedules and focus on all my senses, what it sounds like, the true flavor of food, the smell of the wind and the people around me.
When I travel everything comes into sharper focus. I am more of myself: more resourceful, more aware. My favorite Travel memories always come down to the people I meet. Often around a table sharing a meal when the cellphones have been cast aside and there is just the pure joy of conversation with people who have had completely different life experiences.
From the Atacama desert in Chile to the glaciers of Greenland, Travel has afforded me the luxury of seeing our beautiful world. These memories stay with me always. The more I travel, the smaller the world seems. Yet, there is still so much more to see…”
Max Hartshorne, GoNOMAD Editor
“There is nothing more exciting to me than walking down the big corridor of an airport, about to depart on another trip. There is delicious anticipation, a feeling of excitement about who you will meet, what you will see, where you will go…all a mystery until you truly experience it. I’ve always got a packed itinerary, lots of places to see, many different people to connect with. I pack it all in and want more. I can’t think of anything that’s more wonderful than being on your way to somewhere new.”
Kurt Jacobson, Travel Writer, Baltimore Maryland
“I travel because I’m curious. The people I meet, the sights I see, and the food I eat, all add to understanding the mysteries of life.”
Kayla McMillan, Travel Writer, New Jersey
When I was fifteen years old, my grandmother told me we were going to Colorado. Now, I’m repulsed to even say this but my ignorant-younger self said, “Why would I want to look at rocks for an ENTIRE week?” Needless to say, I was not excited about that vacation.
After arriving in the state, it wasn’t long until we made our way to Estes Park, Colorado: the most surprising place I’ve ever loved. When I finally put my cell phone down and looked up at the Rocky Mountains, I was in awe.
That vacation changed my life and inspired me to write about it.
I travel because I enjoy immersing myself in other cultures. I want to learn about the wonders of every place in the world that may seem “different” to me. Travelling gives me a sense of understanding for the world we live in, and the people that fill it.
It is my hope that I am lucky enough to travel for the rest of my life. Any place that’s new excites me, whether that be a country far away or a small town only an hour away. If more people traveled, I truly believe the world would be a more peaceful place. It’s easy to be ignorant when you haven’t explored a new place. I believe it’s impossible to truly understand yourself, or your country, without something else to compare it to.
Traveling opens my eyes to the ways in which other people carry about their lives. It shows the wonderful details of other cultures, and give me a deeper appreciation for diversity.”
Tab Hauser, Travel Writer, Glen Cove NY
“I travel because I can and I want to see what is out there. If you do not leave our communities to see what is out there you can fall victim of thinking the way you live is perhaps the only way or best way. This changes drastically when you travel. (and I don’t mean going to Disney or some regular beach town.) You learn and get fulfillment when you go out of your immediate circle.
“Even after traveling a lot a key “wow” moment occurred when I stepped off the bus and viewed the great pyramids in person. Seeming them on TV or movies or photos is nothing when up close and personal. Another moment was my first steps on Antarctica and immediately taking in the landscape while getting nuzzle by a fledgling penguin.
A key moment about travel to me was picking up a college magazine that had a couple of articles on places off the beaten track. After reading it I said, I want to do that when I save up a little. Since college, I have been ripping out travel stories to put on my list.”
Donnie Sexton, Travel Writer, Helena Montana
“Travel is a gift I give myself to feed my soul. It energizes, enriches, educates every fabric of my being. I believe I’m a better person every time I set out to explore, leaving expectations behind and open to whatever happens.
I recall an overland trip from Lhasa Tibet to Kathmandu motoring across a barren landscape mostly devoid of people. On the China side of Mt. Everest, it is possible to drive to the base camp of this massive mountain. You would think that waking up to a full view of Everest framed in fluttering prayer flags would be the most significant image etched into my mind from this trip.
But no, it was a little girl, dirty and ragged, who ran out from nowhere on this adventure and approached our group having a picnic lunch. In a flash, she stepped forward and snatched the apple core of a fellow traveler and stuffed it into her mouth. I still see that beautiful little face and ache at the disparity between those that have much and those that have so little. This experience set me on a course to help those less needy in my community (Helena, Montana).”
Cindy Bigras, Travel Writer, Holyoke, Mass
“I travel because it’s the best way to interact with people whose experiences, language, and traditions are completely different than mine. Interacting allows us to find common bonds. Travel breaks down stereotypical images of others – think of Mark Twain who wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”
TELL US WHY YOU TRAVEL IN THE COMMENTS!
This post is sponsored by GoNOMAD.com Travel partner Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation. We also use them as our travel insurance provider. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.