For most of 2020, I’ve sat cooped up in my home. Unable to go out and explore, I dreamt of faraway destinations, inspiring events, meeting people. Then, as time progressed, I realized that even a walk to the nearby park brought that rush of excitement about getting to do something different.
Now that we’ve made it past that year and we enter 2021, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear. With borders opening up and solutions to the pandemic finally becoming available, I know it won’t be long before we’re all allowed to travel again. Still, I’m left with a thought that’s been running through my head for some time now:
Why do people love to travel?
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What is it that draws people to travel to foreign lands that appeals to us so much?
The History of Tourism
For centuries, travel had been a luxury to ordinary people. A pastime reserved for the powerful and rich, making long journeys was the stuff of dreams for so many who could barely afford a trip to the next town.
But the 20th century changed all that. As transportation became cheaper and people’s incomes rose, suddenly, almost everyone could afford to go on holiday.
We started flocking to exotic beaches, hard-to-reach mountaintops, and ancient cities that gave birth to old civilizations. What had once been a fantasy we could only indulge through travel literature was suddenly a reality anyone could partake in.
And we love it, to say the least.
The tourism industry is one of the leading contributors to the global economy, with 9.25 trillion USD made in 2019. UK residents made more than 93 million overseas visits the same year and took an average of 3.9 holidays per person, abroad or domestically.
But while there’s no question about our willingness to explore the world, my question still remains. Why do we do it?
The Motivation to Travel
There are numerous reasons anyone could list regarding why they travel. Someone will tell you they want to see the world. Others want to meet new people. Some seek adventure, some look for solitude.
But perhaps there’s one thing in common to all travelers, wanderers, nomads, and adventurers. Maybe it’s not really new places that we’re all looking for in far off places. Just maybe, it’s the imminent self-discovery that comes with finding ourselves in a novel setting.
You see, whether you prefer to travel solo or as part of a group, stay a single day or an entire year, you’re making a huge step. And the relevant unit of measure isn’t distance. Instead, it’s how far it takes you out of your comfort zone.
There are very few things as beneficial to the human spirit than going further than before. And if reaching beyond our zone of comfort allows us to grow, then it is, ultimately, what we’re meant to be doing in the first place.
What better way to learn than by getting in touch with the world around us? How do we become a better person if not by opening ourselves up to the reality of others? Is there a better way to get inspired than to see everything that’s already out there? And of course, what better way to prove to ourselves that we can do anything than to set out on a journey into the unknown?
But the thing that I love the most about travel, and what I keep discovering over and over, is that I don’t have to go to an exotic destination to get the benefits. My 2020 trips to the nearest park were just as fulfilling as my most exotic adventures. And that’s because new experiences and new points of view are all around us. All we have to do is open ourselves up to them.
My Travel Plans for 2021
I imagine it’s no surprise that one of my biggest goals for this year is to get away as often as possible. I don’t think I’m mistaken in thinking that many people will want to go back to exploring the world at the first opportunity they get.
But, what’s changed for me this year is that I know my trips won’t just be for the sake of going someplace new. Instead, I now understand that every single journey I take offers something more. And that’s the opportunity to learn, to understand, and, ultimately, to thrive.