What Does Travel Mean to You?

If you follow my blog and/or you know me that well, you know that one of my passions is to travel. Simply put, travel has become such a part of my life, I feel like it’s shaped my opinions of the world and influenced my personality as a whole. Since I was an undergraduate in college, I’ve delved deeper and deeper into travel, going to more off-the-beaten path places over the years, all the while becoming more comfortable each time I get outside my comfort zone when I travel.

Still, that begs the question- what does travel mean to me? If you ask a dozen people this question, they may respond with things like travel means building memories with their friends or family, or travel helps them build connections with local people, or travel helps them take a break from their busy lives to recharge their batteries. Perhaps some people would say travel means they get to try new activities or foods and others would say travel means they can discover a new place or language. Travel might mean others have the opportunity to experience a change of pace in life or others might better understand people around the world and their cultures. Finally, for other people, travel might give them something to look forward to and finally explore places they’ve only heard about or seen in photos.

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Traveling in Chile changed me more than I ever would have imagined

Travel is all of those things to me. Because travel has become such a part of my identity, I could never say travel means just one thing to me. When I look back on previous vacations, I think of our interactions with local people. I remember my husband never failing to start up a conversation with the multiple taxi drivers we had in Peru and more times than not learning about the drivers’ lives and hearing their perspectives on life. I remember trying to be the interpreter for the doctor in Costa Rica that only spoke Spanish and my husband who at the time spoke no Spanish, with the help of the nurse who spoke a tiny bit of English when my husband was stung by a sting ray and we were both badly scraped by coral after our kayak capsized in the ocean by our hotel. I remember running with a group of locals for a portion of the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont and laughing at their jokes and thinking what cool people they were. Big or small, my interactions and conversations with people around the world have influenced who I am today.

I remember the utter awe on my daughter’s face the first time she saw Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, the Grand Canyon, Waimea Canyon in Hawaii, the salt pans in Malta, Machu Picchu, the Rocky Mountains, our first moose in Alaska, plus so many other incredible places we’ve seen as a family. I remember the first time we had shave ice in Hawaii (with macadamia nut ice cream under and sweet cream over) and all of the other times we had shave ice in Hawaii after that because it was so amazing and how was it possible I had never had it before? I remember the first time we tried stand-up paddle boarding in Hawaii and subsequently going paddle boarding in Grand Teton National Park and then seeing dolphins when we went paddle boarding in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. There are so many memories from travel, I could never capture even a fraction of them here.

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Taking in the view in Austria with my daughter

Without a doubt, travel has helped me better understand people around the world and their cultures. Travel has shown me that people around the world are more similar than they are different. We may speak different languages, dress and look differently, eat different foods, and have other cultural differences but we all want to interact with others on a meaningful level, be acknowledged for our thoughts, and have our basic needs met. I’ve found that there are more helpful people than harmful people but you do still need to use common sense and pay attention to your surroundings because I’m also not naive.

Perhaps the one aspect of travel that means the most to me is the ability to plan a vacation and look forward to it and then ultimately explore these places I had spent so much time looking at photos of and researching online. That’s also why not being able to travel for the foreseeable future has been so difficult for me. Not only has one vacation I had planned for April been cancelled but there lies a huge pot of uncertainty about the next two vacations I have planned for June and July.

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If the pandemic would have happened last year, I wouldn’t have gone to Peru!

I spent months planning where we were going to go first of all for these vacations, then choosing the cities within these places and our accommodations in each city, some activities and places to visit in each city, our flights, and even down to our rental cars. There are always so many pieces of the puzzle to come together, especially for an international vacation, and it takes time to plan everything. But don’t get me wrong because the planning that goes into travel is something I thoroughly enjoy.

Then there were the months of looking forward to going to these places. Now I’m left with feelings of denial. I kept telling myself in March we would still get to travel in April; it wasn’t going to be that bad. Of course it was even worse than anyone could have predicted back in early March when I was still hopeful. Still, I’m in denial about our vacations planned for June and July and I keep hoping beyond hope that the world will suddenly see these sweeping improvements in the number of cases of COVID-19 and we will still be able to travel after all.

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Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California. It’s even more stunningly beautiful in person.

I feel like if I lose hope for our vacations in June and July that I’ll have nothing to look forward to, at least travel-related. Yes, I did reschedule my vacation from April to November so there is that but that’s a long way off. Still, I was REALLY looking forward to our vacations in June and July, so although I’m not normally the type of person who lives their life in denial, I’m completely and totally in denial for as long as I possibly can be. Honestly, I feel like for the moment, it’s one thing that’s helping to keep me from going a little crazy.

What about you- what does travel mean to you? How has not being able to travel effected you?

Happy travels (someday)!

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

24 thoughts on “What Does Travel Mean to You?”

        1. I really enjoyed the music when we were in Peru. It’s similar to the example you sent from Columbia. Caribbean music has always been nice as well. It’s fun to listen to it being played live while having dinner or drinks.

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  1. I now realize how much time I spend browsing places to travel and look forward to trips now that I’m not doing it anymore since it seems pointless while we play the waiting game. I wasn’t surprised when my show in NYC in June was cancelled but I’m still expecting/hoping to go to Chicago to visit friends in August. I figured even if it’s just a weekend of hanging out at their house eating takeout it’ll still be nice and we’ve already done most tourist activities in our past trips there. We also have our annual Ocean City Maryland trip booked for the end of August. Fingers crossed for us to still have summer vacations!

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    1. I had thought it would be pointless to plan trips too, but then I thought, I’ve got the time so why not plan trips that I know aren’t going to happen this year anyway. We had talked about going to Italy in 2021 (I’m so glad it wasn’t supposed to be this year) so I recently looked into specific places for that trip and did a little bit of planning. I know they were among those the worst hit so it’s a place that travel may not even be possible for at least a year, so I’ll just have to keep an eye on things. I think it’s possible you may still be able to go to Chicago and Ocean City in August. It seems like things like music festivals are cancelled through the year but many other things will still be open as long as the reopening of states goes well.

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  2. It’s been hard for us. Our last vacation was Feb. 19. After that my Dad got sick, I spent months half living with my mom, and he passed in Jan. I was sooooo looking forward to my half in June (obviously not happening). I don’t know when I’ll travel again. Right now, I can’t see traveling safely.

    But one thing I know for sure: this too will pass. I don’t know when, it will. Just think of all the money we’ll have saved from not traveling in this time. Maybe we’ll finally make it to New Zealand. Or visit Kauai again. Or . . . so many places to explore still!

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    1. I know what you mean. Our last vacation was also mid-February. I didn’t have the added stress of sick parents and a funeral like you did, though.
      You should absolutely go to New Zealand. It’s my favorite place in the world. We had talked about going back this winter, but that’s probably not going to happen now. Personally, I can not WAIT until this passes!

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  3. Great post! I am a traveler at heart too. Travel has changed me in so many ways – all of them for the better. I was so disappointed our trip to Morocco and Portugal had to be postponed in March. I can’t wait to start traveling again. I get “itchy feet”!

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    1. Thank you! It’s been a tough time for everyone but I think for people that love to travel and have had to cancel trips (like you and me and so many others), it’s been yet another disappointment to deal with, on top of everything else. For me, the uncertainty of when we can travel again has been the hardest.

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  4. Travel lover too but I’ve come to accept not being able to travel at this time. Happy to wait it out and in the meantime keep updating my long list of places I would like to visit and reading other people’s blogs!

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