What I've learned about travel 

Travel can be an amazing subject and it can spark feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, discontent, and anxiety. Why such a broad array of emotions about travel? Travel is not something that everyone enjoys but it is something that most people dream of. Here is a pretty alarming statistic that may bring some insight:

“According to the State Department, there are 113,431,943 valid passports in circulation, which means 36% of Americans own a valid passport (and therefore 64% do not). Let’s assume that those with a valid passport have used it and those without have never been abroad — that means that a healthy majority of the population has never left the United States. Why not? How we decide to use our time and money are major factors in our failure to get abroad, as is a general lack of travel ambition.” –source

Travel doesn’t have to be specifically outside of the US. Although some of the most interesting places you can visit lie outside of our borders. Despite the news reports about world events lately I would say most places outside of the US are actually a lot safer that inside our borders.

But let’s take a deeper dive into why Americans in general despise travel so much.

I haven’t been all over the world yet but I have been to 28 states. Basically every state east of the Mississippi River and a few to the west. I plan on seeing all of them before I die. I have also been to 17 countries in Europe as well as 3 countries in the Middle East. I can’t say that I have been scared to visit most except 2 or 3 countries in Europe and Southwest Asia. Even those countries were really not that bad once I was actually on the ground. So the fear factor of visiting another country compared to the fear factor of walking in the wrong neighborhood of any state in the US is marginal. One thing I will say about traveling anywhere whether in the US or abroad is to avoid large gatherings and try to stay away from the tourist traps that are out there. Big venues are where most bad things happen generally.

Do you hate waiting in long lines at the grocery store? Then you will probably hate standing in long lines at the airport or train station. This is not a mass transit problem this is a temperament problem that lies within you. I completely enjoy travel delays and long lines whenever I can. I condition myself to understand that lines and delays are just a part of life. It’s not the line that will make you mad, it’s how you perceive the situation. I laugh a lot at airports when I see frustrated travelers trying to get from point a to point b. It’s a basic issue of people not calculating delays and problems along their journeys. Everyone wants things to go exactly as planned with no hiccups. That is far from reality whether you are traveling, renovating a house, or just fixing dinner. Things are going to happen that are way outside of your control. Learn to embrace these things and try to glean some insight and wisdom when things go wrong. This is probably the only way you will ever be able to travel happily despite minor discomfort. This applies to most things in life.

If you are not ready to get your passport but still would like to travel there are plenty of places to see right around the corner or farther. Again, delays and mishaps are going to happen. Embrace them. Places like national parks are great for anyone (especially kids). It’s a trip with a learning experience wrapped inside. National Parks Services have “passports” you can buy to log your travels and help you with future ideas on where to go and what to see. Make it a game and have fun with it.

Timeshare hopping is also another inexpensive way to check out some cool resort destinations. These are a little trickier and you just have to know how to say NO when asked if you want to purchase a vacation property. I personally wouldn’t recommend buying a timeshare or something like that but there are benefits of having them. Do your own research and see if the will be right for you or not. You do however have the possibility to spend a few nights in places like Gatlinburg or Orlando in a very spacious resort for very little out of pocket other than the actual travel time and expense. Make sure you block off the few hours you might need for the mandatory tour. Again, make it a game and have fun with it.

Another way to see some new places is to jump in your car and set a distance limit or time limit on how far you would like to venture out. Two ways to approach this road tripping experience: Find a spot and just go there and make some stops along the way if you see something interesting. A bee line is what most people prefer using only interstates and major highways. The second option is to eleminate all major roads and just make your way through all the small towns and scenic routes along the way. Stop when you find something that sparks your interest. You would be amazed what you will find driving off the beating path.

Do you travel for work? Take you family with you. It may cost a little but the hotel and sometimes rental car are included. Your family can explore while you are in meetings and then all of you can converge in the evening for some sight seeing and dinner.

The bottom line is embrace seeing and exploring. Travel is like being a beginner learning something new for the first time. I think the best way to do it is to fully immerse yourself in the culture and vibe. Embrace not knowing the language and possible pick up some language skills. It’s really not as hard as it would seem. Especially if you immerse and have no other choice. Have fun with it and make it a game! I plan on taking my first trip to Asia with my kids within the next 5 years and we are going to backpack and explore it fully. No fancy resorts just me and the children’s learning the language and the culture. Where will you travel next? Any tips or tricks you would like to share? Please feel free to comment below! Thank you for taking the time to read!

John

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Dont forget to leave me something to chew on after you have gone back to your normal life.. and I stay here inside the matrix. ;-)