This post is dedicated to Randy, a very helpful man who answers many of the questions that I pose about European travel on the Rick Steves message boards. Today he asked me a fantastic question that I feel deserved an answer on Blog on the Run. He asked me why I like to travel.
It’s such a simple question—why do you like to travel? But it’s more complicated than it seems. You see, I like to travel to different places for different reasons. There are places I’ve been that I’d like to return to some day. Alaska was beautiful and desolate. I loved the feeling that every step I took was farther and farther away from civilization. Martha’s Vineyard is also naturally beautiful, and the people there are extremely well-mannered. Ever walk on a beach surrounded by non-screaming children? I have—on Martha’s Vineyard. I enjoy Vegas because it is the only place where my husband and I have ever really had a ‘date night’. We get to get dressed up and go out for dinner every night, and it gives us time to enjoy each other without having to worry about picking up dog poop or weeding the garden. Bath was the oldest, most quaint place I’ve ever been. In Amsterdam, every single person I interacted with was friendly and welcoming. I love Walt Disney World because, simply, it is fun. Every single aspect of Disney is set up for enjoyment. Who wouldn’t love that? Vancouver is my favorite city in the world, and I love it because it has everything mentioned above—all the excitement of a city combined with the beauty of the outdoors. It is fun, its people are welcoming, and my husband and I can explore Vancouver’s restaurants and nightlife.
Additionally, of all the places I’d like to go, I’d like to go there for different reasons. I want to see Iceland’s bizarre landscape, learn about Islam in Istanbul, and challenge myself physically by hiking the Inca Trail (that last one is going to take some serious training!) I’d also like to spend a week at an all-inclusive resort with my husband and a week at a yoga center by myself, completely unplugged from the internet. I’d also really like to visit Germany—Munich and the surrounding area in particular—to try out a new European destination, and I’d like to give Paris another shot, mainly to prove to myself that by adjusting my attitude, I can change my experience.
But I still haven’t answered Randy’s question. In keeping with the spirit of this blog, which is honesty at all costs, the truth of why I like to travel in general is this: I like to travel because it makes life less boring. No matter which destination I choose, or why I like that particular destination, I like to—no, I need to travel because it breaks up the mind-numbing monotony of life. Even if it isn’t fun—as in Paris—or even if it is completely devoid of any cultural significance—as in Vegas—it is different. And if I don’t introduce some ‘different’ into my life every now and then, I may perish.
In my regular life, I am a middle school teacher—at least for the next two months. I have been a teacher for eight years. Here’s my day, every single day:
I arrive around 7:15. I put my lunch in the faculty room fridge. The custodian, who is always sweeping the faculty room floor at 7:15 a.m. says “Morning Tracy.” I say “Morning.” He says “How are you?” I say “I am.” He continues to sweep the floor, and I exit the faculty room.
I continue down the hall. I greet the Spanish teacher as I pass her room—it’s on my left. I continue to the mail room, get my mail, and repeat the whole ‘how are you’ thing with the secretaries in the office.
Upon arriving in my room, I put my purse under my desk and turn my computer on. I write yesterday’s Daily Word on the board, and flip the daily word chart over to a new word. I write the day, date, and day of the cycle on the upper right hand corner of my whiteboard. I write ‘Today in L.A.’ on the board, and underline it with a squiggle.
The kids begin arriving for homeroom. I take attendance, do the pledge….
Is anyone getting bored reading this yet? You should be. It’s so amazingly, eye-poking-out-ingly boring. I haven’t even described for you how we have a restroom break every day at 9:28am, or how my day is broken up into the exact same increments every single day—period 1, 8:04; period 2, 8:46; period 3, 10:12… It makes me want to scream. And I’m typing this from my desk, in my classroom, waiting for it to all start over again.
That is why I like to travel. Because it gives me something new to look at, do, and learn. Travel is educational in the best possible way—no matter where the destination. I’m at the point in my life where I need to take a break from teaching the same things over and over and start learning something new, something that I’m interested in, and that others may be interested in as well—thus this blog. And this other blog. And this other blog. And this book. I need a change. Travel gives me that change.
Is that escapism? Probably. Is that wrong? I don’t know. What do you think?’ Want to see a discussion of travel as escapism? Click HERE.