Written by Sharon Harrison
After a summer spent relaxing, taking vacations or visiting family and friends, autumn seems an odd time to be thinking about travel. For some, it is the best time of year to take up the challenge as fall travel options can offer more flexibility. The weather is often more agreeable, accommodation and flights cheaper, the price of gas magically goes down, the kids are back in school and things are generally a little more relaxed.
The travel bug can take hold sometimes without warning, and for some it is a call they must answer. Others will wander and discover, seeking out new things for a few years, but once it’s out of their system, the pull for adventure subsides as life gets busy. Sometimes, the need for exploration resurfaces once family has grown and flown, and desire and finances allow for greater opportunities.
Travelling doesn’t have to be a visit to a far and distance land. The desire to roam could mean driving an hour from home to explore a new place. The destination need not be a thousand miles away; it could just as easily be one hundred miles or less from base.
Whether you decide to rove far or near, for some a trip of a lifetime, often to an exotic locale, is a must-do on their agenda. It could be a bucket list item or a way to mark a significant milestone. The trip may be a solitary one, perhaps to forget a bad relationship or simply to allow thinking time away from everyday schedules. It was Julia Roberts who showed women everywhere just how this can be achieved in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and cinematic adaptation of Eat Pray Love.
Travel in its many forms can be many things to many people. It can teach the intrepid traveller new things, educate us, change our outlook on life; make us more creative, inspire us, fill our minds with extraordinary ideas, exposing us to different cultures, showing us different places and perhaps most importantly, introduce us to people who we may not get to interact with on an average day. Travel can broaden horizons and the mind, allowing us to grow and develop as individuals. Going on a jaunt can mean pressing the reset button as it may even alter the path and direction we may take going forward.
Not everyone has the opportunity to discover new and extraordinary lands because adventure isn’t always a possibility. But what about virtual travel? Online browsing has never been easier to access: almost every town in the world is there, right at our fingertips waiting to be discovered and explored. While knowledge was once gained mainly through books and in libraries, thanks to people, the internet, Google Street View and more, we can view almost any place from almost any location on the planet.
Why not stay home, pick a country or a town at will from a map, insert a place name into a search engine and see where it takes you? Or grab a few travel books or magazines from the library or bookstore. Call it travelling without travelling as we allow ourselves to be transported to the other side of the world in a few clicks of a mouse or from the pages of a book. Some call it desktop travelling, others virtual touring, but why not allow your computer or device to take you far and wide while you redefine what travel means to you? Check out local hotels, the city’s art galleries, places of interest and the sights and sounds of a random place without ever leaving home as you embark on your unique journey.
Travelling should always about the journey rather than the destination and can be a reminder of what we can achieve as individuals; it refocuses the mind, and if we glean nothing else from it, it allows us to dream of adventure and exotic places, people and food, and maybe even love. It’s about connecting, stepping outside our comfort zone and satisfying a need.
Embarking on an excursion can make you feel good, filling you with wondrous thoughts, providing you with new ideas to pursue. And while travelling can be an exhausting experience, it also has the ability to replenish energy stores and renew our enthusiasm and zest for life.
While planning is key for any adventure, not least because it can save you time, trouble and money, simply taking off, spontaneously following paths unknown is greatly encouraged as you let the road map your way. Whether it’s defined as wanderlust or something else entirely, the desire for discovering new places, the lust for a change of scenery, or the need to simply wander maybe just what the doctor ordered.
Travel is good for brain and heart health. Known to decrease depression, increase happiness, lower stress levels, help with anxiety and improve mood, travel can expand the mind, expose you to new people, new places and new situations. Taking time off can make you more productive at work and improve personal relationships, and the benefits to our mental health and self-esteem are extensive and long lasting.
Next time you decide to stay home rather than take a trip, even a short one, consider this: those who make travel a part of life can generally expect a longer life expectancy. And what better way to celebrate United Nations World Tourism Day which falls annually each September 27th.
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