As I write this, I am preparing for a trip home for my university’s “fake break.” At my school, we have a winter term, where we take a class for three weeks, and then we have another week until spring semester starts.
I mostly travel home by train, which takes roughly seven hours. I can’t count how many times I’ve traveled this route through Amtrak, but I will always remember my first time taking the train: saying goodbye to my dad, finding a seat next to a girl who ended up being from my school and watching the scenery pass me by. Before I went abroad, I thought traveling by train for seven hours couldn’t compare to a 5.5-hour car ride home, where I could pack more things and feel much more comfortable. But after relishing in everything traveling has to offer while studying abroad in Europe, I began to enjoy these seven hour train rides again. They can be relaxing and rewarding in so many ways. There’s so many things that the process of traveling allows us to do. Here are some more reasons why I simply love the journey of traveling by myself.
1. Traveling gives you forced periods of nothingness.
I thank my friend Bettina for this quote. In airports, we would claim that traveling and waiting for a flight, bus, ferry, train, etc. forces you to do nothing. It forces you to be “unproductive” and gives you time to contemplate where you are in life, your next destination and your how you are going to get there. It allows you to be still.
While waiting in airports can be boring at times, I am often thankful for these times to relax and do nothing in particular. On my train rides, I would bring music, books (I finally realized I don’t get motion sickness reading on trains!), journals or some paper to write down blog post ideas. Sometimes I just use the time to stare out the window, watching the landscape transform in front of me, thinking about life and the world.
2. Traveling humbles you.
When we travel, we are often surrounded by lots of people we don’t know. Many times I see the same people over again in my classes, in my organizations and at home. But through traveling, we cross paths with so many different people. It’s so interesting to people watch and think about how each person has a different story, going through different struggles and finding their own way. It’s humbling to see the ways others go about their lives. During my last train ride, I sat by a woman who I would have never talked to before, but for some reason we were both on the same train going to different places. She told me about her grandson, her family and tidbits about her life. I told her about my classes and other things about my family. It was nice to have someone to talk to during my journey. Sometimes it takes this movement of travel for us to recognize that our life isn’t just about us.
3. Traveling spurs my creativity.
As I mentioned in a blog post last summer, my creativity is heavily influenced by traveling. While new people and places always excite me and boost my creative spirit, it sometimes takes seemingly meaningless hours of transportation–the actual traveling–to get my mind going. It’s something about moving through space and time that gets ideas formulating. I mentioned in my post about finding our creative callings, that creativity needs adventure. Traveling, in many different ways, is an essential part of that adventure. It affects us deeply within our souls and helps us to produce quality creations in this world.
4. Traveling helps you realize what you need to let go.
The process of packing up our things and moving to a new location lets us realize how our physical and emotional environments affect our daily living. We leave behind the routines, causing us to question what is truly needed to accomplish our dreams and goals. We remain isolated from our regular activities, caught in a stream of movement, taking us somewhere new. This isolation can be really cleansing, allowing us to look back on what we do everyday and what needs to change. I am currently reading Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt, which is her story about traveling to all 50 states and how she discovers the importance of living life with less baggage. I think this concept is so relevant to all of us as we live in a world that pushes us towards collecting more material and even emotional things. Travelings helps us unravel the simple things of life, and lets us learn to live life with a minimalist mindset and take steps toward focusing on things that matter the most.
All in all, there are so many aspects of traveling that I adore. From visiting new cities to exploring the beauty of nature, traveling is such a privilege and a gift to have on this earth. But thinking about the actual traveling part of travel intrigues me and makes me realize my love for traveling even more.
What about you guys? What do you love about traveling? Can you relate to any of these experiences?