When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to run away from home. Was I bored in my current surroundings or was it the open road that was calling my name? Was I hungry for adventure or needing to satisfy my curiosity about the world at such a young age? That afternoon, I packed up my jewelry box (I guess I believed then as I do now in packing light) and shared my plans with my mom. She asked me where I would go and I said I hadn’t yet decided but I would just head out at dinnertime and start walking. She convinced me that I might prefer a nice “last” home-cooked meal and a good night sleep in my own bed, with a fresh start in the morning. I believed then as I do now, that my mom was wise and made a good point (although I was never one to admit it), and took her advice.
The next morning, jewelry box in hand, I said my good-byes to my family, and headed for the hills on foot. I got about two blocks away, and decided I needed a better plan and returned home.
Do people travel because they are searching for something or are they running away from something? Are we seeking to learn and discover a people and a place very different from what we know at home? Certainly, many of you reading a travel blog have an appetite for adventure, and we seek to learn about a different time and place from our everyday world.
But as people travel do they take the time to do what they set out to do? Are we experiencing other cultures or merely brushing by those living in a different place than us? Are we really experiencing other cultures or just seeking to check off the sights on our bucket list and buy the souvenirs we think we are supposed to bring back? We observe as so many people do just that.
I believe travel should be experiential. If you only get one opportunity to visit someplace new, why not explore it by having a conversation with some of the locals? There is nothing more rewarding than having a local child give you a smile out of sheer joy for life and because they are seeing you, a face different than the one they know. You have opened their world as well. Sometimes getting out to the countryside to experience life in the small villages requires a long bus ride, perhaps along a bumpy road, but isn’t that why you came in the first place?
I travel to experience places and people who are different than what I know at home. I want to learn about their lives, their families, their holidays, food, religion and more. I want to know how they see the world. I want to not only touch the land, but also touch the hearts of the people I meet along the way, as they certainly touch mine. That’s my souvenir.
I guess I didn’t really want to run away from my family when I was seven, I wanted to know other families in addition to my own. I wanted to explore the world… and I have been doing so ever since!