Article after article and blog after blog are written about how great travel is. It’s a chance to explore yourself, the world and expand your horizons and ways of thinking. Travel brings out strengths you didn’t even know you had. It allows you to connect better to the world, people and the environment.
Travel has been put on this pedestal as something wonderful and unique, which it is. But the focus and emphasis on the importance of getting out of your comfort zone by hopping on a plane is taking away from the beauty of expanding your horizons in your very own hometown.
As I settle into my new home in Córdoba, my itch to travel still tickles and I wonder if I can call myself a traveler now that I’ve picked somewhere to be more or less permanently. Am I still a travel blogger if my trips are limited to one per year? And how can I continue to learn and grow as much as I do whenever I step off that plane into a new and unexplored place?
With the events in Charlottesville and Barcelona, I can’t help but think , if only people could open their minds and hearts. In this way, we would all learn to accept one another, in a way that we can’t by staying put in one place.
I used to believe that it should be mandatory for every one to study abroad during their academic careers. Maybe this way, we could come to understand one another and the events in Charlottesville, Barcelona, France, Brussels, wouldn’t be so common.
But that’s not a reality. Being able to travel is a privilege many people can’t afford. And the biggest realization I’ve had yet: travel is not necessary to be able to achieve all of the things you can in another part of the world.
I’ve always been good at putting things off in favor of the right circumstances. This is in part why I have traveled so much. Constantly looking for the “right place” to start doing this or that, to start putting into practice this or that. Until I realized that I was so busy looking forward to being on a foreign soil that I wasn’t paying attention to the diversity and richness of what was around me in my very own home.
I don’t need to get on a plane and be immersed in new sounds, smells and sights to open my eyes to the beauty of the world. It’s not necessary to travel to learn about other cultures, other peoples, and expand my mindset. I don’t need to go to another country to connect to and treasure the people around me.
Travel helps, and the sensations and wonderment can be more profound, but when we learn to treasure what is around us in our everyday lives, that is when we really have learned the meaning and importance of connecting to the world.
So, can you be open-minded without ever having left your neighborhood? Absolutely.
Is it possible for those living in Charlottesville, in a city where white supremacy is trying to cultivate a city of hate and division, to learn to embrace one another and foster a love for diversity without having experienced the lessons that come through travel? Yes.
But it’s not easy and it takes a long time. And that’s where we get lost.
My goal then is this. Travel or not, new country, city, town or not, my true goal as a traveler is to open my heart and mind to every single individual around me in my everyday life. Even when the school year starts and I’m taking the same bike ride to work, going back and forth doing those little mundane things, I will open my eyes to what is around me. Because when I learn to treasure every experience and person right in front of me, then I have truly learned to travel the world.