Why Travel? Why Not?

Anna and her two sons write their thoughts on why traveling is fun and good for them.

Why Travel? Why Not?

We were thinking with the boys why traveling is important. The boys came up with some pretty interesting reasons so I will try to put my two cents in.

The opportunity, an open door

The Clay Castle, Romania

We feel very grateful for our home; we are always happy to be there; we enjoy the comfort of being in a familiar place with familiar people. We love sleeping in our own beds, sipping from our own cups, sitting on our own sofas, using our own blankets and the little things that form our home.

Still, when the opportunity to travel arises, it feels like a door has been opened to us and we are invited to go through it and see where it leads, what adventures await. Until now we like to think that we seized the opportunities given to us and we are not sorry for our choice to take them.

Two and a half years ago we felt like we were given the chance to go and travel as much as possible through Europe. Of course, visiting new places was wonderful but the greatest bonus for us was meeting new people who, like us, have put their trust in Jesus Christ. It was very encouraging to see that God has His children everywhere.

Now, in this time when traveling is so hard to do because of the different restrictions put in place by different governments and so hard to plan because of how things with Covid develop from day to day, we understood why we had to do it then. It was an opportunity that was given to us as a gift. If we hadn't have taken it then we probably would have regretted it now, when the opportunity is no longer available.

Leaving your comfort zone

Traveling is not easy: it challenges one to adjust to different time zones, foods, unwritten socially acceptable rules, etc, you name it.  It means to leave what is familiar behind and plunge into the unfamiliar and the unknown. It means to leave your comfort zone, the place where you feel in control of your life, the place where you feel at home and safe into new places that are foreign and sometimes uncomfortable.

But that is exactly why we feel we have to travel, because it is challenging. Traveling enriches us with its challenges. We learn many new things, like the history and geography and culture of the places we go to. We experience first hand new ways to do things, new mindsets. We appreciate more what we have back home, the freedom, the wisdom of our people but also understand more why something else works, too in different places.

Traveling challenges makes us grow spiritually. When we travel, many times we see God at work in our lives more visibly. Many times we fell short but when we were at our wits' end and strength we saw God stepping in and showing us a way through. We prayed and we were able to see the answers to our prayers readily. We sometimes had to wait on Him and give Him the reins of our life. He never let us down or disappointed us, thus our faith in Him has grown while we traveled.

Traveling is caring

Tripe soup in Romania

Especially in this time and age when tourism is so much crippled by the lockdowns and the restrictions, people whose livelihoods depend on tourism are in need of travellers to come and  buy their food, the accommodation they offer, their services, their souvenirs, etc.

If you travel, do what you can to support those who are there to serve travellers. Remember these were among the most hit by the pandemic.

Fun fact about traveling

sun setting 

Did you know that we perceive time slowing down when we travel and thus travellers feel like they lived longer lives? That is because our brains are on a mission to automatise actions. Why don't you think of the act of walking when you stroll around a park? Because walking becomes an automatic action by the time you learn how to walk. Why do we feel that our lives fly? Because of routine. Predictability makes people happy because it gives them the illusion of control over their lives. When we know what to expect we feel in control.

But traveling is novelty at every step. The brain tries to cope with novelty and by the time it becomes familiar with it, the landscape changes, the challenges change, too. So the brain is in a continuous mode of adjusting and getting used to the new. That is when we feel like time is slowing down and after a week away from the familiar we feel like we have been away for a very long time, thus the feeling of living longer lives if you travel a lot. Interesting, right?

Becoming minimalistic

Another advantage of traveling is the realisation that you do not need many things in your life, the bare necessities will do. Everything you need for the next week to a few months must fit in a few not too heavy baggages.

When traveling, leaving behind stuff gives me such a feeling of freedom, of lightness. It makes it easier for me to declutter when I return home and give away things I barely use. A few things that require little maintenance  gives me more time to focus on relationships more or on reading a good book or making a good food, etc.

There and back again

It is always wonderful for me to go back home when I am away somewhere. I appreciate it more, the people we left behind, we realise how we missed them and we are eager to catch up with them. We appreciate more our comfort zone and are more thankful for it and do not take it for granted. We are eager to get back to routine and predictability, keeps our sanity working well.

Making memories

In the Pope's Palace looking at the ceiling, Vatican

Traveling is making memories with the loved ones with whom we travel. We love each other more and appreciate each other more while we travel as we depend on each other to make it work. We discover new strengths and talents in each other. We have fun and a deeper connection. Then when we look at the pictures, the video clips we recorded while away: we remember, it puts a smile on our faces to see our history together.

Traveling to me is:

The opportunity of a new adventure;
Leaving my comfort zone, falling in God's arms;
Speaking encouragement in a different language;
Making time slow down;
Not taking home for granted;
Capturing family history in smiles.

Mihai, 13

I think traveling is important because:

You can see places firsthand which you normally wouldn't when staying at home.
For example, assuming you live in England, you can probably see forests near your house, or maybe something more interesting, like a castle or two, but can you see the Acropolis? Unless you live in Athens, you can't. And if you live in Athens, you can easily see the Acropolis, but not the English castles. In either case, you cannot see the other interesting thing without traveling.

Athens, the Acropolis

You can learn more about the new places that you visit.
It is more interesting to learn about new places when you are there than when you are sitting at home, perhaps on a comfortable armchair. For example, I never knew that Venice was first inhabited by some Romans who fled from Rome, which was being attacked by invaders. Said Romans found a cozy little peninsula where they could live without being molested by the invaders. From my comfortable armchair back home, I probably wouldn't even have dreamt that such a chain of events could have happened, and I probably wouldn't even have verified it if I thought that it might have happened. But when we arrived in Venice, it was one of the first things we were told.

In Venice

You can get cool souvenirs.
Back to the example with Venice. When we went there, we visited a glassmaking factory, and I got a glass cup with gold foil on it. Sure, it was more expensive than the normal souvenir, but it is the coolest souvenir I ever got.

At the glass factory

Traveling is:

The soft seat of the airplane;
The towering Acropolis on the top of the hill;
The dark gates of the Coliseum, where gladiators fought to the death;
The whitewashed houses on the side of the cliff on Amalfi Coast;
The tall observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome.

Paul, 10

I like traveling because:

You get to see different places.  

Traveling gives you the opportunity to visit the seven wonders of the world.

You have the chance to learn more languages.  

Traveling gives you the chance to be able to talk to more people from different countries.

You get to eat different foods.

When you go to different countries they each have a special food which means that you have the opportunity to try it out, like Romanian mici. Romanian mici are a kebab made out of different minced meats like pork, mutton, and beef.

Romanian mici

You can get cute surprises

Once when we were going to an inn to stay for one night, the moment we opened the door of the car two cute dogs ran to us so that they could be petted; if you go traveling maybe you will meet lots of cute dogs too.  

A dog accompanied us on one of our hikes

You may make new friends

When we came to visit Romania we became friends with some kids that moved into our neighbourhood, they are now our best friends and play pals, they also have a cute cat that keeps coming to our house "meow!"

New friends

You may learn the history of the places you visit

When we went to Pompeii our guide told us all about the history of this once rich city which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; I thought it was interesting.

In Pompeii

You sometimes get to see your relatives

When we go to Romania we see my uncle and my grandparents very often because they live in the neighbouring city.

Family in Romania

Traveling for me is:

Going to the Eiffel Tower and looking at France from the tower.               Going to the great Parthenon in Greece.
Going to Bulgaria and flying with a parasail.  
Going to Tennessee and climbing the Smokey Mountains.