“I only work to travel,” an ex-colleague told me at lunch recently. Another person across the table said he measured his life in trips. It made me wonder what it is about travel that we love so much.
There are probably as many reasons as there are people, but I think it is because we form so many positive memories from our travels. They stand out from the routines of our lives where mundane details flow together and are quickly forgotten. The times that we travel stand out in our life stories because we remember so many of them.
Some of my earliest travel memories are from road trips with my family as we drove across Canada and the United States and as far as Mexico, visiting national parks, famous landmarks, small towns, big cities and all the dots and spaces in between. No longer were they just names on a map, but places in my mind that I still recall.
As I grew up, I began taking trips of my own, exploring obscure corners of the world, open to all the new experiences I could find. I made friends with many travellers along the road, intense friendships that burned briefly and brightly, but were based on shared experiences that will always be remembered.
I made many of my biggest life decisions when travelling, proposing marriage to my wife at the Taj Mahal, getting her pregnant in the shadow of Mount Sinai in Egypt and making the decision to take up journalism while marvelling at the view of the Himalayas in Nepal.
Freed from our everyday duties, travel is a time when our minds are open. A lot of travel consists of long hours of waiting or moving from place to place in planes, buses, boats or trains. All that time doing nothing, gives us a chance to think and it lends itself to self-reflection allowing us to make big decisions. It is also a time where we are aware of our surroundings and it elevates our powers of observation to levels that we don’t use back home, searing those memories into our minds.
All of this is powerful stuff for forging memories. In the end, we are our memories. They are the story of our lives that we tell ourselves. Travel helps us write that story and helps make it just a little more interesting.
Why do you travel?