why do you travel?

This says it all:

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

Posted by Devon
833 posts

I've always had the travel bug. My parents worked in an internationally-focused field, studied abroad, took business trips abroad... It was genetically inherited, I guess. When I was in middle school they took us down to Tijuana and we walked across the border so I would stop complaining that I hadn't been out of the country yet. I love exploring, meeting new people. I've couchsurfed, hosted a couchsurfer in Italy. Seen the house that my great-great grandfather built, the same one my great-grandfather was born in in Tuscany. I love languages - I studied Spanish, Arabic and some Italian. I'm always counting down until my next trip. Luckily it's only 46 days away!

Love that HCA quote. I also like Tolkien - Not all those who wander are lost. If I get another tattoo, it may have to be that one.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8054 posts

Even though I realize it's not possible, I travel because I want to see everything, experience everything (within moral limits) and know everything. The best I can do is keep chipping away at it by always going somewhere new and learning as much as I can. I'll kepp traveling until I'm physically unable to keep going.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Since i was an art/architecture student, i spent alot of time reading Jensens book in addition to spending alot of time in a dark room looking a slides along with many other students.

Travel has allowed me to see the real things in the book and from the slides and i can say, its way better in person. The instructors always told us, if we ever have a chance to see any of them in person, to take the chance and do so. So i am.

I also want to travel for:

  • seeing then odd/nifty things i cant see in the USA or isnt here.
  • try some different foods
  • chat with the locals
  • check out the babes
  • look and explore the places where history took place before they are paved over with condos.
  • try to horseback ride in each country just for fun and to say i did it.

happy trails.

Posted by Alice
Stoughton, Wisconsin, USA
25 posts

Me, too!
It was Janson that sent me to Chartres the first time, and to the Uffizi to see Botticelli's Birth of Venus. The picture of that painting in Janson was sort of meh to me, but it brought tears when I stood in front of the actual painting. To see Chartres, Chapaize, and Botticelli in person IS way better than in a slide. Makes it real, makes it stick in the mind, keeps the information and insight usable, alive, joyful.
And then, listening to a veteran back on Omaha beach for the first time since June 6, 1944...a little like being there back then.

I took my bicycle helmet to France, but not my riding helmet!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10761 posts

To see what lies on the other side of the next hill.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
6318 posts

Art history courses in college.

My father singing songs from Napoli, his home.

First trip to Italy when I was seven.

Saw this t-shirt: "I think. therefore I travel.". But I was traveling by then.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

I have had the wanderlust ever since I can remember. Even as a child I dreamed of the places my father would go for his work. One time he sent a post card of the Virgin de La Macarena in Seville. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I said I'm going to see that one day! And I did! When I was raising my children and did not have the resources to travel I traveled vicariously through RS on PBS - always looked forward to Sunday! I have been very fortunate to travel as much as I have and experience so many diverse cultures. Traveling, seeing and experiencing so many historical places and the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful art in the world has been a pleasure I will always cherish and hope to continue as long as I am able.

Posted by Diane
1358 posts

I guess I'm wired with wanderlust too... and just plain curious.

Jacques Cousteau put it this way: "Il faut aller voir"

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1497 posts

It's thrilling, it's interesting, it's exhilarating, and it's just plain fun.

Posted by Karen (Leigh)
460 posts

I love seeing and experiencing new things. I love the feeling of being slightly off balance, not knowing exactly how everything works and having to figure that out. Then I love the feeling I have when I become familiar with the place and things that were off balance at first. I love history, especially European Medieval history, so I love to go to the places where things happened, or the places with shadows of the life in that era.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1432 posts

Hey, that Andersen quote was in a crossword puzzle I just did! Must be a sign.... Thanks for the question, Chani.

I like to explore and figure things out. I studied European history and love seeing the places where things happened. I like being in motion, though I've come to appreciate the week-in-a-city (or longer) approach. I missed a lot of travel, especially overseas, during that interval between college and retirement, and now I'm trying to make up for lost time while I'm still mobile. Probably like everyone else on this forum, I suppose. I know many perfectly fine people are content to stay at home, but I can't relate to that.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1562 posts

Because there is nothing "old" in Long Beach except the dirt.
Because I want my son to know that there is a world out there where people don't think botox and $$$ is everything.
Because I don't want to spend my money on things; I prefer experiences.
Because there is nothing like waking up on the other side of the world.
Because I want to know people who are nothing like me.
Because when you travel, every day is a surprise.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1452 posts

To stay sane! I love the planning stage as much as the travel part! If I had nothing to look forward to in the months ahead, I'd be one sad, depressed person. If it was just workworkwork all the time with no adventures on the horizon, well, that's just sad...and I refer to when I was working - been taking a break for a year and enjoying time with my doggie :) I feel bad for people who never take time off and their whole life is work.

At the end of it all, I want to look back and think about all the places I've been, not about how many hours I worked (well, when I did work...lol). We are hoping hubby can retire when he's 55 or earlier (so 6 years for 55) and then his 4 weeks of vacation time will not hold us back anymore!

Posted by travelmom
32 posts

I am new to travel in the last 5-8 years. I can honestly say that I while I enjoy travel, I don't find it relaxing and I could happily live a fulfilling life without going. I did not grow up traveling and would really be content to savor my little corner of the world. I have had fun and made wonderful memories on every excursion but my idea of a relaxing vacation is a little house at the beach for a week, or a cabin in the mountains --- both easily within a few hours drive from my home.

Why do we now devote our limited time and money to it....I travel to show my kids the world and help them to be both more secure and more adventurous - traits I am still learning. We are learning together. I want them to be comfortable in the world and give them enough experiences so they can make up their own mind as they grow into adults. If they are content to stay home, at least it is not fear or uncertainty clouding that decision.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1525 posts

There are numerous reasons, but among the biggest are:

To see famous, interesting, iconic sights in person, which is much different than seeing them in a photo.

To see how other people live, and in some small way, walk in their shoes for a bit.

To imagine having lived a different life.

To instill in my children (we take them along) a sense of adventure, a comfort level with travel, and the knowledge that neither they nor America as a whole is the center of the world.

To be inspired to take artful, creative photos.

the list goes on...

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1452 posts

Re: what Randy said about seeing iconic sights in person - remembering my mother-in-law (who is def not a traveler!) saying, 'Can't you just look at a book with pictures in it? Why do you have to go?'. Ain't nothing like the real thing!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5779 posts

That reminds me of the friend who asked why I travel to Europe, when I can go to Vegas and see the Eiffel Tower, Venice, and so on.

I live within a days drive of Las Vegas and I've never been there. Why? I'm not interested!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3287 posts

Andrea... those people must have been on a plane I was on once when I went to Vegas... that was their comment exactly...they planned on retiring there simply because then there is never a need to go anyplace else. (probably a good place to keep them:))

I'll come back here if I can ever articulate exactly why I travel :))
Maybe it's kind of like a quote I saw recently "Art is not an option" Just substitute the word 'travel' for art...just have to do it...no choice.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5543 posts

As a child, I read encyclopedias for fun, and reading about these wonderful places all over the world enchanted me. Seeing them in person was important. Being able to stand in the Forum and think about famous Romans who stood there too, gave me goose-bumps. Walking into a cathedral where kings and queens were crowned simply gives me a hands-on connection with history. When I go through a forest here, I imagine the Celts, the Germanic tribes, the Romans, the pilgrims walking to Jerusalem, the merchants and knights following the same trails. If I am in a guard tower, I imagine the medieval soldiers sitting up there, bored with their watch, playing games of chance. The everyday life that would have swirled around those same fountains in the middle ages, that today we admire for their beauty, surrounds me.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
6318 posts

Jo, I love your persoective. I do the same thing. It's especially helpful when I'm in a city that is mobbed with tourists and someone on every corner is trying to sell you something - I think, this is what it was like 1000 or 2000 years ago, people from all over the world coming here to trade, to see famous places; from street vendors to entertainers and hawkers, it's as if every day is a medieval fair day (kind of like South Beach where every day is Halloween).

It reminds me that the world is big and not all about what I want.

Posted by Mira
496 posts

I don't have a big explanation, but it's a fundamental urge somehow. When people ask me "why are you going to x", my answer is usually something along the lines of "because it's there", followed by a list of important things I want to see or do there. Why are you going to Madrid? Because it's there, and I love art and they have one of the best museums in the world. But really, it's more than that. I'd travel even if there were no Prados or Eiffel Towers or Prague Castles or Acropolis or Alps or whatever major sight. It's about the experience of going somewhere new. I really can't put words to it. The "because it's there" part of my answer sounds flippant, but it's the only way I have to express the simple need to explore.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

Ms. Jo - I do the same thing and being the big sap I am I usually end up all choked up with tears streaming down my face! My poor DH just steps back like he does not know me!

Posted by Lo
1561 posts

I've wanted to be someplace other than where I am since I was a little kid. My mom used to say that I'd go anywhere just to go. I loved following along on a map as we drove somewhere, even short distances. My earliest experiences were situations where Spanish was being spoken and I didn't understand it. I love being in places where I don't know what people are saying. Even though I am retired and every day is like a vacation compared to when I was working, traveling is a vacation from the incredibly boring daily activities of managing a home.

Like many others, I studied the history of art and architecture. Seeing the Guernica in person or standing inside the Mezquita or walking around Westminster Abbey or seeing the hundreds of years old graffiti scratched into the Pont du Gard inspires emotions that no picture of them will ever bring.

I like being in those kinds of places. I like the on-the-ground (or water) movement to get to them by car or train or boat. I like staying near where they are and walking the same streets others have walked in the past. I like seeing what life is like there now -- how people live and eat and get through their normal days. It's all a part of the same package of experience. And having experiences is far more important to me than having things.

I enjoy seeing how people in other parts of the world do the same things we do but in different ways. I'm challenged by the immediacy of travel and being in the moment of where we are, but I particularly like it if that moment is a slow one getting filled up with the sights and sounds and smells and tastes around me that are so different from my day-to-day life back in the US.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
4427 posts

Yes, very true. To travel is to live indeed. I travel to see the sites, things, places I have mainly read about in modern European and Prussian-German history. That's what sparked my curiousity since my first time over when I was still in college. I travel to see both big cities/capitals and some towns, depending on what I am after as regards to priorities, be they in France, Poland, Germany, England, or Austria, The problem is too many places yet to be explored and visited as in CR, Belgium, Hungary, Finland. I seek out those places based on my readings, ...they get first priority, and choose places which you should see anyway.

Traveling is where you not only learn about others but also about yourself, such as how to prepare for the next trip and set priorities on where to go.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2381 posts

I like to see other places, to go on road trips and so on.

Something that makes me a bit different from most Helpliners, I think, is that I don't care about meeting strangers when travelling. It is not that I'm disrespectful, ill-mannered or anything like that, but I just don't travel with the idea of meeting locals and chatting about whatever just because I'm there. I normally don't talk pointless and casually with strangers at home (I'm almost always drowned on a gadget and before these existed books/maganizes), don't do that either when travelling.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8564 posts

Like Jo and Christi, I like to think about the people that came before me. I can't imagine how they managed, without modern tools, to create such enduring things as cathedrals and paintings. I, too, try to imagine the person who did the stonecutting that I am touching today - how long it took, what exacting work it was, and how it all fits together and still stands (the Segovia aqueduct still blows me away). So much of modern life is temporary, and it is humbling to realize that our nation is younger than many buildings in Europe. I remember as a college student in our Bicentennial Year of 1976, taking a tour of the Vienna Statsoper building - which was also celebrating its bicentennial.

Posted by christa
alameda, ca, usa
442 posts

I feel more alive when I'm off on an adventure to a foreign land, and knowing that I am capable of going about in the world all by myself is a tremendous confidence booster.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

I travel to live, I live to travel. Whether I am visiting the North Bridge in Concord, MA (next town over from me) or visiting the Brandenburg Gate, I experience the history, the people and the culture of that place.
I picture the people that came before me in these places and enjoy the people that live there today. I think of what their daily lives were like then and what their life is today. It brings the world all together for me and I feel I can wrap my arms around it with an embrace.

When I return home I am always more grateful for my life. I love my country and the freedom it gives me. I respect our laws even if I disagree. I understand the world better. I am more accepting of diversity. I think with more knowledge. I am more accepting to differences. I am a wiser person than
from when I left home.

Travel to live, live to travel.....

Posted by Amanda
Dreaming of Europe
47 posts

I travel to enrich my life. I've always had a yearning to learn more about the world...travel allows me that. As beautiful as the United States is and with the rich history she has, it doesn't compare to the history of Europe and elsewhere. We have over 200 years where as Europe, Asia and the Middle East have thousands. Someone mentioned being asked why not go to Las Vegas to see the Eiffel Tower or Venice...well to simply put it, it's not the same. Sure there are replicas of famous monuments scattered across amusement parks and cities, but they do not provide the historical significance that the real monuments possess. There won't be quaint outdoor cafes to sit at with foreign menus. There won't be the frustration but excitement of trying to communicate with another person in their language. There are just some things that can't be duplicated...no matter how hard they try.

Posted by Kathleen
97 posts

Uh, Amanda. If you're Native (like me) you have a bit more than 200 years under your belt. :-(

Posted by Kim
Franklin, NC, USA
33 posts

Christi - loved your post - reminded me of our week in Berlin last year. I spent the week in tears thinking about Berlin's history & those who suffered there. My husband's most memorable sight: "Hey, that's the hotel where Michael Jackson held his baby out the window!" I guess that we all travel for different reasons & with different perspectives & it's that's what keeps life interesting.

Posted by Janet
Lakewood, WA
102 posts

I travel to learn and get different perspectives on how to live life.
I also like the people watching.

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
514 posts

To experience other cultures. The History, Art, Food of another country is exhilarating . I suffer from OCD and Tourette Syndrome and the OCD part of me is Traveling. My parents said they would have never gone to Europe if I hadn't pushed them into it. Seeing things older then Christ and seeing architecture completely different from your homeland. IT IS ALSO LOADS OF FUN!!!!! Becoming a temporary local and telling jokes in a foreign land with someone you just met. You also become more educated when you travel. I remember Rick's travel partner in Turkey once said "Don't tell me how much you know, tell me how much you have traveled". It also gives you a broader prospective on life.

Posted by Julie
47 posts

I travel because until I was 18 (I'm almost 46), the world consisted of a very small Alaskan town with only 3 television channels. When I moved to CA at 19, I had never seen an avacado, been to a major league game of any kind, been anywhere or done anything!! Life is too short to live small-town!

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
572 posts

Basically have no idea why I’m doing it, but it stimulates and broadens anyway my horizon. In some cases it makes me aware of my eye-flaps :)