September 27th is the annual official World Tourism Day as designated by the World Tourism Organization. In honor of this year’s day I’ve decided to write about why I travel and why travel in general is a great way to experience the world and why I will keep travelling no matter what circumstances life finds me in.
I had a semi-late start to travelling. My first independent trip was right before my last year in university. The destination? New York City. I went with my best friend and we stayed with her family in New Jersey. But, we had all day to ourselves to explore the big city and see and experience things we had only ever read about and seen in movies/TV. That first trip took us to Times Square, the National History Museum, the steps of the Met (hello Gossip Girl inspiration), the Staten Island Ferry, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial and so much more. I’ve since been back to New York twice and will keep returning as it’s a city you can never spend enough time in.
I bring up that first trip for a couple of reasons. First, it opened my eyes to how absolutely amazing travel is and how shockingly happy it made me. It’s like a piece of my heart woke up and I knew I wanted to keep doing this over and over again. Second, because while New York is a far away destination for a lot of people, it isn’t for me. I live in Toronto so New York is actually doable as a weekend trip if I’m willing to do over night buses and go straight to work (which I of course am). This has proven to be a travel philosophy I strongly support and advocate. Travel can be done by anybody regardless of their situation because travel isn’t just defined as a 20+ hour flight. One of the main reasons I started my blog was to advocate for local travel. There’s so much to see in your own backyard and it’s hard to always remember that.
So, why travel?
It’s a great question and I’m sure as a traveler it’s something you get asked. Personally, I travel because I need to. I get restless. I want to see things. I want to do things. Experiencing new places comforts my soul and brings me peace. I sincerely enjoy travel in every format. Long-haul flights, short flights, road trips and exploring my own city and province. I love learning things about a place that you can’t know just by reading about it. There’s a big difference between seeing a picture and seeing something in real life. That may come across as pretentious but it isn’t. A picture may speak 1000 words but it doesn’t speak all words. You can see millions of pictures of New York City but it won’t explain how loud Times Square is, what the smell of roasted nuts sold by street vendors smells like or just how spectacularly grand the Statue of Liberty is. That may be a big travel example. But take your local park/forest/woods. A picture is beautiful. But will it show you what trees smell like? What birds sound like? How it feels to stand beneath a tall free? No, it won’t. So why travel? Because it changes you. It challenges you to see things in a new perspective. To experience things you haven’t. To see familiar settings in a new way. There’s so incredibly much to see and do in the world. Hike mountains. Swim in lakes and oceans. Try new foods. Experience local cultures. Walk among 1000-year-old ruins. Watch sunsets and sunrises. Get lost in busy cities.
2017 World Tourism Day
There are so many reasons to travel and so many things to experience. However, it is important to note the role you play in the world when you travel. The theme of this years World Tourism Day is Sustainable Travel. With how accessible travel has become, it matters more now than ever that we maintain and protect the world we live in. While pollution and global warming are of course damaging to the world so is human behavior. It’s important to respect the cultures, rules and norms of the places you visit. Shop local. Try local foods. Use public transportation. These are all great ways to immerse yourself in the place you visit but also to help the place and the planet survive for many more generations. There is a very famous quote that sums this up perfectly. “Take only memories, leave only footprints” If you want to read more on this years efforts you can do so here.
Do you enjoy travelling? Why or why not? Why do you keep doing it?