Friday, March 9, 2012

Axiom 19: The Power of Travel (Part 1)

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
-St. Augustine
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” 
-Martin Buber
Growing up in Texas I never traveled much. Family vacations were relegated to no further than a few hundred miles from home. Nothing even existed beyond the Texas state line as far as I was concerned. However, as a I got older I developed a natural curiosity about the world - something that my parents never had.

After I graduated college in 2003 I was contemplating moving to Los Angeles. I was looking for a job in public relations and most of the PR firms were out there. I flew out there by myself to scope things out. This was my first real adventure into the world outside of Texas and I was terrified. At first everything felt wrong. The "us versus them" mentality I had been raised on was ringing in my head. Everyone talked differently, acted differently, drove differently, ate differently, voted differently, and so on.

It took all of my willpower to approach LA with an open mind. I decided to look for what made LA special instead of trying to find ways in which Texas was better. I didn't end up moving there after all, but I learned a lot about myself and still travel there when I can. From then on each subsequent trip I made around the country became increasingly easier until the apprehension of travelling to a new place was replaced with delight.

I approach each new city with an open mind and a natural curiosity. I want to see what the city is like as a local, not as a tourist. I can't help but always ask myself, "Would I want to live here?" Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. I think ultimately travelling has made me realize that if I was wealthy I wouldn't relocate I would just travel more instead.

One great thing about our modern society is our ability to travel. The ability to wake up in one continent and fall asleep in another. Boat rides that took months have been replaced by plane rides that take hours. Our ancestors would have killed for such an opportunity. Don't let this opportunity go to waste. Travel helps you look at things from another perspective. It eliminates the "us versus them" mentality. It inspires you with new ideas. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone. It changes you for the better. Don't continue to live vicariously through travel shows because the real places are never quite as they seem on TV.

If you're terrified of travelling like I once was, trust from my experience above that it is just an irrational fear that you must overcome. The other excuse for not travelling I often hear is, "I don't have the money." Nonsense. If you're 18 and you have a job you can afford to travel. If you save $1 a day you can buy a round-trip plane ticket to just about anywhere here in the country in less than a year. So cut back on your Playstation budget and instead go somewhere that will really teach you something new.

With an open mind and a natural curiosity I would argue that one would get more benefit from spending $30k travelling the world than spending $30k on a college degree, and next time in Part 2 of this Axiom I will show you specific life lessons I've learned from travelling.