Embracing the Spirit of Travel

I get nostalgic looking back at a trip we took to South America in the mid-90’s with little money and even lower expectations. The plan was no plan, to leave a place when we were done with it, whether that was an hour, a day or a week. We booked absolutely nothing except the flight there and back.

We made the priority to keep our ears wide open and listen to what locals and other travelers had to say. Every day was different. No schedule. Let serendipity rule. Man do I miss that Spirit of Travel right now and everything else that happens better when you are traveling.

Procession of indigenous people in South America.
Photo credit: John DeLeva

Travel Slows Down Time

I met a young man in Utah last year. His parents had walked across America in the 70’s and written a book about it. At age 30 he felt like it was his time to make a shake-it-up-move-on-life and so he biked from Oregon to Patagonia, a 15-month, 13,990-mile odyssey. As Jedidiah Jenkins put it, “When you are a kid everything is new: you don’t know what’s under each rock, so you look. You notice because you need to. The world is new. Your brain is paying more attention to every second.” 

Think about that: your brain is paying more attention to every second. The smells are new, the sights are new, the sounds are new… your mind is overwhelmed and every moment is seemingly lasting longer because you are absorbing so much. There are, I imagine, many ways to slow down time, but I can think of no better way than by traveling when our senses are bombarded by new stimuli. 

In a day when instantaneous everything is the norm, its natural for the pace of life, for life itself, to feel like it’s spinning faster than ever. Where has the time gone?” I have no doubt you’ve said or heard these words at least twice this year. Need to slow things down? Then GO somewhere – anywhere!

Travel Adds Spice to Life

Author Paul Coelho said, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal.” Travel naturally displaces you from the comfort zone of home and away from your daily regimen. It reminds you hours are like diamonds and days like gold. It can break patterns and habits and free you of time constraints.

Your true spirit has a much better chance to surface when you’re traveling. Think of how many things you have done on vacation that you could have done close to home, but for whatever reason didn’t.

Travel Lets You Find Yourself

Convent of SBS of Mercy in Brooklyn.
Photo credit: John DeLeva

More and more people are traveling in a way I call genetic tourism –

going back to where DNA says their parents, grandparents or distant relatives came from and learning about themselves by tracing their genes. 

The depth of each journey is dictated by the individual as some genetic travelers just want to see the country they most identify with while others aren’t satisfied until they find the old family farm, local records and gravestones going back a dozen generations. 

Being adopted, I went fifty years knowing nothing about the first four months of my life. Five trips to Brooklyn over a three-year period and I discovered my biological mother, six siblings, 17 nieces and nephews and met people from all over the world in what is now absolutely my favorite borough in New York.

But finding yourself isn’t just finding your roots, it’s also finding out who you are and what you really enjoy doing when work, at-home routine and the daily grind are eliminated. There is a Spirit of Travel that lets us open our minds and hearts to people and places and become who we really are.

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