Travel allows “living” opportunities to learn about new places discover different cultures and communicate with people whose habits and histories offer fresh perspectives and experiences. Leafing through a coffee table book on fine art or history simply doesn’t compare to standing in front of the Venus de Milo statue or looking across the Grand Canyon. Add the dimensions of sight and sound, the tastes of regional cuisine, the unique customs of other cultures, and you add genuine color to black and white knowledge. As important, you share your own experiences and “colors” that enrich the lives of others!
Learning – What is it like “out there”?
On the Puget Sound, Seattle is home to Indians, Asians and, of course, Washingtonians. You may find yourself across the Sound in a typical Indian village, where the aroma of fire-roasted salmon fills the air. On their infrequent sunny days, the entire population of Seattle fills the marketplace and outdoor coffee houses to celebrate the lack of rain.
Look to the East, West, North or South, and you’ll discover lives and lifestyles with differences and similarities to your own. In Lexington, Kentucky, residents proudly celebrate their heritage of horses and heroes with monuments honoring Man-O-War and Henry Clay. The former, voted the best thoroughbred ever to race, was a Lexington native and winner of 20 of the 21 races he entered. The latter represented the good folks of Kentucky as statesman and orator.
A scene from “Good Will Hunting” drives the point home. Robin Williams explains experience versus knowledge to Matt Damon, with the ultimate message that because you can quote a poet’s love sonnet doesn’t mean you know what love is. It is the same when you see centuries-old Roman architecture and broad golden fields of wheat. No history book or description can replace your first-hand experience.
Understanding – What matters to “them”?
At home or abroad, travel expands your view of the world. You may imagine fashion and panache of France, but visit their lovely country and you will see the French value of family, culture and tradition. Sundays find grown sons and daughters migrating to mother’s table for a traditional feast and, perhaps, a game of petanque.
In Italy, you’ll discover lovely Renaissance architecture and melt-on-the tongue gelatos perfect for a summer afternoon. Belgium is the virtual maestro of chocolate, lace, and an unimaginable list of tasty beers! A lively place to browse the brews is the lovely market square in Bruges, where you can engage in friendly banter with servers, while overlooking the music and carriages in the square.
Communicating – Do they want to know about you?
A restaurant scene in France demonstrates natural curiosity and the desire to communicate. Two elder gentlemen were seated next to an American lady in a quiet bistro. They spoke no English at all, but she knew enough French to carry on a petite conversation. The gentlemen appreciated and envied her ability to communicate in their language. People the world over are curious. They want to know about the life and places and people you represent.
Wherever we go, we carry our flag of origin with us. We can be ambassadors in France, and we can be tourist representatives in Alabama. People with experiences different from your own wonder about those white beaches you have seen in Florida, the canals you have crossed in Amsterdam, and the traditions you celebrate in your own home town.
Whether you travel to the strawberry festival in the next county or to a distant exotic location, you discover why travel is so important. Stand before Roman aqueducts, and you grasp the depth of history. Stop by a wine cave in France, and you enjoy a taste of the rich life of a generations-old wine-making family. Stop in for the blue plate special in a small North Carolina town, and you understand the earthy appeal of “great home cooking.” Your experiences will linger far beyond vacation moments. When you relive the memories over a steaming cup of coffee in your own breakfast room, you appreciate the different sights and cultures that make life rich and renew your own sense of discovery.