Why I Travel
A Personal Manifesto
I fell in love during high school. Not with a person, but an idea. The idea of traveling the world, and seeing new places, and eating exotic foods, and speaking foreign languages.
I grew up in a small town in suburban Massachusetts, and didn’t know much else outside of it. I had been on trips around New England and to Florida with my parents, but had never been anywhere substantially different from my own home.
In grade school, I studied Spanish starting in the first grade, and was not very interested by what I had been taught. The way I saw it, I had no choice in studying the language, and as a result, I was disengaged and never really found much use for it. That was until I chose to study Latin in my sophomore year.
Suddenly, I found myself enthralled with verbs, nouns, and adjectives. These were the common roots that made up the modern Romance languages, and even a large part of the English language as well. My tryst with Latin eventually led to an even more intense affair with the French language, and from there, I decided I wanted — no — needed to go to France and see it for myself.
The spark inside me was lit, and an incurable itch appeared. When wanderlust grabs ahold of someone, it rarely let’s go, and for me it took hold in a ferocious way. My interest in the words of the French language transcended to a fascination with the culture, the people, their food, their history. Up until then, I had only experienced them third-hand from a book or a computer screen and I wanted desperately to experience them for myself. The only way to do that was to go right to the source.
I finally got my first true taste of what it’s like to travel a few years later when I was in college. I took a few trips to places throughout the country with friends and for Alternative Spring & Winter Breaks, and again when I studied abroad in Europe. Since then, I’ve taken over fifty trips across the country and the world, including 13 countries, and I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
For me traveling represents a chance to conquer the unknown, an opportunity to soak up another way of life, and to bring that knowledge back home with me. Traveling expands my worldview, helps me understand other people a little better, and become more tolerant of other cultures much different from my own. It helps me grow as a person.
When I’m traveling, I’m the best version of myself: I’m an explorer, wide-eyed and discovering new lands; I’m a cartographer, building a mental map of each place and drawing connections between others; I’m a collector, saving photos and memories to look back on later; I’m a socialite, making new friends and visiting old ones; and I’m a foodie, tasting my way through each location and eating everything I can.
Whether it’s living as a Madrileño for four months in Spain, taking the metro to class every morning and eating a bocadillo for lunch, maneuvering a large telescope at an observatory atop Mt. Teide in Tenerife to view Jupiter and the Andromeda galaxy, climbing the steep steps of Machu Picchu and experiencing the grandeur of an ancient stone city, hiking up Mt. Royal and taking in the beauty of the Montreal skyline, watching the Nutcracker in the standing-room-only section of the Vienna State Opera House, eating pizza and gelato in Rome, or walking across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, I’m always left feeling energized with the same sense of wonder I had when I was a child.
There’s something about being plopped in the middle of a completely new place that really makes you question your everyday and wake yourself up to other ways of living. At the same time I like to think that it taps into the innate explorer in all of us, from when our ancestors were nomads and moved across the land to survive.
In short, when I travel I feel more human.
I take every opportunity I can to recharge my batteries by visiting another place.
That is why I travel. And I consider myself so incredibly lucky that I’ve had the privilege enough to be able to do so.