The first time I travelled I was seven when my parents took my sister and I to Holland. I remember when the plane got mechanical problems in Portugal and we had to stay on for two whole days, proudly telling my father that when we returned to Curaçao I could tell my classmates that I have been to not one but two European countries. The travel bug was planted. Today, at fifty one, I have visited 86 countries.
I’m telling you this becauseI traveling the world opens your mind to new things. How else would you know that in Ethiopia day change doesn’t start at midnight like everywhere else, but at sunrise? That the nomads who cross the Sahara desert only drink 4 cups of hot tea with lots of sugar instead of water despite the scorching heat. Or, that in Tibet sky burial -cutting up of the bodies of deceased human beings and feeding them to vultures high in the mountains- is popular. And finally, that at the South Korean side of the DMZ with North Korea all military personnel (South Koreans and Americans) have to be at least 6 feet tall to show their superiority compared to the shorter North Koreans.
Traveling enables you to experience things outside of your bubble of comfort. You see that the world is so much bigger than your perspective on it and soon realize it doesn’t revolve around you. You lose the callousness and superiority attitude that can sometimes develop when you can’t relate to the outside world. Now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still important, but it does change your perspective to be more open to learning from other people and situations and showing compassion for others that differ from you. I believe that’s a good thing to learn at any age, but you can apply it longer throughout your lifetime if you start early. Do not put off traveling believing that you are guaranteed old age. And please realize that traveling is much more than those malls in Miami, the all inclusive packages to Punta Cana and cruises in the Caribbean. Choose unbeaten paths, small towns, let go and challenge yourself. There is a world out there waiting for you to taste.