Benefits of Travel

I love to travel. It's in my blood. For most of my life I have traveled up and down the east and west coast of the U.S. and other parts of the world. As a child I traveled usually with my aunts to visit relatives down south, as we called it, driving from New York to Virginia several times during the year. As an adult living in California, my husband and I drove up and down the west coast exploring cities and towns from Los Angeles to Baja and up to Washington state. Once we drove from Los Angeles to New York and back, camping most of the way. It took us almost a month. We circled the U.S. stopping at campsites in the South, East, North, and West. We even ventured across Canada until it became too cold to camp in our little tent. On the whole, it was an invaluable trip. Not only did I get a geography lesson, but also it gave me a better understanding of and regard for the people and places that make up this country.

My first venture overseas was to Nigeria. Since then I've traveled to England, Spain, China, Mexico, Thailand, the Caribbean, Central America, Morocco and other places. And I plan to continue to see the world. Traveling to other countries as well as within the U.S. has enriched my life as well as broadened my perception of the world. When I first began to travel abroad, I was surprised to learn that people in other countries spoke more than their own language; for example to hear people in Africa speak fluent English, French, and their native language. To be fluent in other languages is part of their educational system. When I hear some people in this country complain about other languages being spoken here, I wonder if they understand how limiting it is to know only one language. I'm not saying we should all be fluent in other languages, but to recognize and appreciate that knowing another language enhances rather than diminishes you.

Travel expands your world if you take the time to learn about other people and to interact with them as one human being to another. If we stay in one area and know and care about only that area, imagine how close-minded we become. Viewing issues from a narrow mindset ignores the fact that the world is changing. How can we have an open discussion when we see things only from our own point-of-view? Travel has helped me learn to respect other people and their culture. It has helped me appreciate my own culture as well.

Finally, travel can help alleviate our fear of other people. Ignorance perpetuates fear. Understanding lessens it. Sometimes those who are most fearful of others unlike themselves are the ones who have not ventured outside their communities. It is important to get out and see the world. If you are open, if you can set aside judgement, you'll find your perspective will change, you will learn to value the diversity of this nation, and your life will be richer.

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