Why I Travel

Nothing teaches us as much in a short period of time as travel. New places, outside our everyday routine, foreign experiences in the everyday needs of human life – eating, sleeping, social interactions, shelter, work, family, and spiritual food that gives our life meaning such as religion, music, and art – all can infuse our lives with new questions to ask and boundless knowledge about the world, humanity, and ourselves.

It is this path of learning about ourselves as individuals and our place within our own society and the larger world community that excites me so much about travel. It is also why I prefer epic journeys of several weeks, rather than a few days, when I go on vacation. This may be highly unusual for an American – we have on average the fewest vacation days of most developed First World nations – but I learn and experience so much more when I have the time necessary to leave behind my routine American life and readjust myself to the rhythms of the community I am traveling within. My own transformation of mind and heart are more profound the longer I have to observe and participate in cultures different from my own.

For the next few months, I plan to revisit some of these moments within my journeys, moments of self-discovery and personal transformation, moments when my world-view was challenged and I questioned my assumptions and beliefs, moments when I either affirmed my conclusions and values or altered them when presented with new information and ways of doing and seeing things. After all, travel at its core is about self-discovery of ourselves in the context of the larger world. Isn’t this why we love to jump into the car for a road-trip across the States or hop a plane to a new city? As human beings, we long for the freedom and time to explore our place in the world and the larger meaning of life. That is the gift of travel.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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