5 Reasons to Travel More

Prague's Charles Bridge

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Last week, I finished reading a book I can’t stop thinking about. It wasn’t a novel or fiction, like many of the books I read, but a memoir. The subtitle describes it well: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down. But I personally think the book was about something more universal, something many of us struggle to shake. I would subtitle it: One Man’s Quest to Break Free from His Past.

The writing is elegant and thoughtful, and the story moved me. Even more, the memoir is about travel, one of my favorite parts of life.

In its pages, the author takes the reader through his experiences traveling to various parts of the world–to Patagonia, the Amazon, a remote part of Costa Rica, and opulent Vienna–as he searches for a way to break free from who he was before. He wants to be able to fully love the woman who he wants to marry, and fully live in the day-to-day world of his family and friends. Because of reasons he doesn’t understand, he fights a near-constant need to escape. But through his travels, he begins to understand himself. Through travel, he finds the man he hopes to be.

The book is called The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy.

The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy
The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

Often, especially in American culture, we put travel off as something we’ll do someday. Only 1/3 of Americans have a passport. We have a beautiful, large, diverse country. But in traveling somewhere new, someplace different, we gain more than we can measure.

Following, some of my favorite quotes from the The Longest Way Home, to pair with 5 reasons why it’s important to travel.

5 Reasons to Travel More

1)  To See:

  • to be alive: when we travel, we see our usual world with new eyes.

“…the glacier appears to be glowing–not reflecting light but emitting it, radiating it. It looks like a pulsing, living thing. The suddenness and surprise of the view has filled me with such a feeling of being alive that in this instant I tell myself it is worth any cost I have to pay to ensure the continuing possibility of such moments…” pg. 38

2) To Learn:

  • the new things we encounter on travels help us to broaden our minds.

“The freedom of being a stranger in a strange place, knowing no one, needing to know no one, with no obligations, elicits deep feelings of liberation, and the farther from the beaten path I go, the quicker the attachment to any idea of how I should be treated is discarded–I’m grateful merely that my needs are met. Without an agenda, or company to distract me, I invariably feel a certain hopefulness than can appear contrary to my aimlessness. Perhaps it’s just the simple joy of being alive.” pg. 104

3) To Heal:

“The acute sense of longing I felt toward my father at the summit and the realization of the place that longing has always occupied in my body is a discovery not to be minimized, and in some ways, it is a relief. In acknowledging that emptiness, I’m released further into my own life.” pg. 226

4) To Awaken:

  • to new possibilities

“Rarely do I take the time to marvel at how fast one can get so far from home, but in this instant it’s not lost on me that just last night I was eating a cheeseburger for dinner on a still-chilly New York City, and I am now sitting in the middle of the steaming Amazon River eating fresh dorado for lunch.” pg. 73

5) To Understand:

  • ourselves and others better, in a new light.

“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… 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.” pg. 19

The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

One thing is clear in the book: the belief that one of the most important things we can do as human beings is to go, to travel, to see what is outside of the boxes of our daily lives. It doesn’t matter how far we go, what matters is that we take on the attitude of seeing and doing something entirely new. It is in the environment completely outside the norm that we begin to discover ourselves and others.

Travel is one of the most important things we can do, in living well.

Prague's Charles Bridge in black and white
Charles Bridge in Prague

McCarthy’s journey in The Longest Way Home resonated with me, especially with my own recent four years living in Prague. Now, as I write about my time there, I’m rediscovering who I am and how much that time in a foreign country and traveling to 23 countries transformed me. Lumped together, those four years were one of the hardest, yet best experiences of my life.

Travel!

Travel rarely has to be extravagant. When planned well, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The ability to travel simply takes a can-do spirit and a sense of adventure.

This month I’ve focused on writing about health, and this final week, my focus is on the importance of travel. In this new year, don’t hesitate. Go. Travel. See. Do. Become.

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

12 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Travel More

  1. Thank you for the recommendation, Jennifer. I feel the same way about travel, and have tried to bring my kids out into the world so they grow up with the sense of wonder and adventure travel can bring.

    1. I do think travel is one of the greatest gifts we can pass along to our children, and I love hearing you’re bringing your kids along on your travels. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share, Jennifer!

  2. This book sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to read it. I grew up in other countries (spent about six years total of my pre-college life outside the US)… and it had a profound effect on me. I have since learned of “Third Culture Kids,” for kids who have lived a significant time outside their parents’ culture — apparently we TCKs have more in common with one another than with our parents’ culture. It’s so fascinating… and I’m assuming that travel (like you did and like Andrew) are significant in that way as well. Great post, Jennifer; thank you for another great book recommendation!

    1. When we talked with cultural trainers on our way over to Prague, they advised us that 5 years in a foreign country is the tipping point when the home culture becomes foreign, and the foreign culture becomes normal. I certainly felt that creeping up as we were there 4 years, and now it’s interesting being back in the US and learning to readapt. My kids often talk about wanting to be back overseas again, and I think it is part of the TCK you mentioned. They belong in Europe as much as they do in the US, a gift and a challenge. Grateful for it all, as the travels definitely shaped us. Thank you, Julia!

      1. That’s so funny, wasn’t even thinking of your kids. Of course, now they’re TCK just like me! I always feel different and even a little out of place, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What wonderful lives they have ahead of them!!

      2. 🙂 At their International School, Third Culture Kids was a hot topic, and most of the expat moms talked about it often. We have many friends whose children have never really lived in their countries of heritage, instead moving from foreign locale to foreign locale. I think there are advantages to all sides, but certainly TCK are unique. (And lucky, in my opinion.) Thanks, Julia!

  3. We think about this all the time from the other side of the coin. My girls have never left the country. We are so nervous to do it because both my oldest and I really struggle with change, time differences, lack of predictability. It is so hard to balance and it has left us a bit paralyzed. Your post is a great reminder for us to revisit the conversation.

    1. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Travel is all about the unknown, especially when it’s overseas. I think traveling is like a muscle that when used, becomes stronger, and change becomes easier.

      For all of the years outside the US, and all the miles we traveled by car to countries and destinations unknown while there, none of the things we encountered were too much. For the harder things we learned to pull together as a family.

      I don’t know if that helps or makes you feel better about traveling, but the memories afterward are rich and the sense of accomplishment as a family lasts forever. Thanks for sharing, Stacey– you’re definitely not alone in being intimidated by the unknowns in travel! xo

  4. I spent 3 years living in a foreign country. I definitely feel it broadened my views and opened up a world of possibilities for me. I will be forever grateful for all I was able to see and experience during that time. Love the quote by Twain and your photo of the Charles Bridge in one of my favorite European cities.

  5. hmmm was travelling when you wrote this,thus my tardy comment. I didn’t really travel out of my home in Canada until my daughters were almost grown. But in the last ten years I have made up for that. My daughters, who have travelled all round the world,to cultured cities, Polynesian islands, a small piece of Africa, and the Canadian Arctic, gave me a luggage tag that loudly claims across a lime green background “travel junkie” It hangs in my studio because I don’t want it to get broken. But I do travel….( with another yellow tag that claims “you don’t look like my owner”. I love travel… it is exciting… can be difficult and sometimes I don’t much like coming home but my life is so much richer. What I usually come home with is the fascination of just how different yet similar places and people can be!

    eb white sums it up for me… ” all that I ever hope to say is that I love the world.”

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