Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Twenty Ways Travel Can Change You

See the world, travel, S.R. Karfelt, author, the glitter globe
The Glitter Globe/Twenty Ways Travel Can Change You!

Once I read that travel is the best investment you can make in yourself. I appreciated the legitimizing justification for what at the time felt like a purely fun and selfish thing to do.

My husband and I used to work together. Sometimes after a week spent at an engineering conference we'd manage to stay the weekend. Occasionally we'd even arrange a layover somewhere like Tucson in March, Portland in Summer, or drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon while winter snows melted.

It felt like the supreme indulgence. Running your own business is often a dream many people have. The reality of doing it can be a nightmare. It is often seven day workweeks and sixteen hour days. Those trips we once took together were desperately needed and reminded us that, Hey, I remember you! You can be fun! 

  • Perspective is everything. If you've become a Human Doing instead of a Human Being, escaping your everyday can save a relationship, or possibly your sanity. 1. Travel can help you remember that your job isn't your entire life!
  • After a particularly brutal conference in San Francisco we decided to make the long drive to see the Sequoia trees down south. It was a bit of a hike to the Sierra Nevada from Northern California, but I had a map. (It was the olden days like ten years ago.) After about a couple hours it hit me that if I'm headed south, shouldn't the Pacific Ocean be on my right instead of my left? 2. Travel makes you better at geography. I now know exactly where the ocean should be at all times. I can drive from Tucson to Nogales Mexico in an hour. I know which countries border Egypt. Travel helps you know the world. I know I can walk from the Roman Colosseum to the Forum in about two minutes, and where the best pizza is at a gay bar because I got lost and hungry and wandered in, with my husband. 3. Travel makes you patient because you will mess up or someone else will and, 4. You can still have a good time when things don't go as planned, and you learn so much. (Hey, the pizza is fabulous, we should come back here! Look at that, redwoods are big trees too! They are also a lot closer than the Sequoias. Once you've seen the world you spot inconsistencies like not even James Bond can drive from Palatine Hill to the Spanish Steps that fast.)
  • Many people cautioned me about my trip to Egypt. None of them had been there. 
    • You will be in Africa!
    • Egypt is a Muslim country!
    • Traveling to those places isn't safe!
      • 5. Travel can teach you that 1.2 billion people survive just fine in Africa and you can manage it too.
      • 6. Travel can teach you that Muslims are peace-loving people. (And that there are plenty of Coptic Christians in Egypt too.)
      • 7. Travel can annihilate pre-conceived notions.
      • 8. Travel can make you question opinion and demand fact!
      • 9. Travel can make you braver. 
  • The last few years I've attended a workshop in Greece. I go out early so I can do some book research, see sites, and lay on the beach before the real work begins. I go by myself.
    • Things go wrong. Flights are cancelled. Ferries too. I've found myself scrambling for a hotel room at midnight and unable to make connecting flights.
      • Dammit. Looks like I'll have to be here in Greece an extra few days. Life is hard. YAS! *jumping up and down* 10. Wonderful things will happen back-to-back with the complications! (I've been stuck in Detroit too.) (It was fun.)
      • Just because you miss a flight or don't have a hotel, I promise you will not have to live there forevermore. 11. For one moment just fantasize that you've missed your flight and will now have to live on this island in Greece. Hot damn! Suddenly your fear has become pretty much a dream. 12. Travel will make you more self-sufficient. 13. Travel will make you more capable of taking care of yourself and more confident about doing it. 14. Travel will help you learn to roll with the punches because travel, like life itself, isn't perfect.
  • You will see things that surprise you. You could see things that might even shock you. 
    • Athens is the birthplace of democracy. Every time I go there are demonstrations. I've been in Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guard while television cameras focus on protesters there and tourists eat gyros, drink Mythos beer (the beer of unicorns), and take pictures in the same square. 15. News should be renamed Bad News. For all the bad things you see on the news, way more good stuff happened in the world today. Possibly on the other side of the news cameras. Obviously not always, but protesters are not inherently evil just because they're protesting.
    • Was it last year when we were all getting our tighty-whiteys into a twist over same sex bathrooms? Many countries have same sex bathrooms. You know how sometimes you stop for gas somewhere and they have a single bathroom for men and women? Sometimes it's just like that. Some places have a shared sink area. Most everywhere has actual walls and doors around the toilets. This is a huge improvement over the open-top open-bottom and wide-crack stalls we usually have in the US. 16. Travel can teach you that different isn't necessarily bad or frightening.
    • Bathrooms are different in different countries. Sometimes you can't flush any toilet paper—the ancient pipes can't take it, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria. 17. Travel can teach you how spoiled and lucky you are. Sometimes there isn't any toilet paper or a way to dry your hands or even soap. Paper and soap is a luxury you can't always count on having in some places, Egypt, Mexico. 18. Have you ever noticed how fortunate you are? Travel can show you that. If you can drink the water out of your pipes without getting sick and you can afford paper to flush down the toilet, you have it better than a whole lot of people.
  • It's a vague memory now, but flying used to scare me. I
    Egypt, Karfelt, Camel, Travel, Solo travel, Author, Writer
    Riding a camel to my beautiful life.
    remember wishing that the pilot wouldn't dip the plane to give me a better view of New York City. At some point I became the person sitting next to little kids explaining that roads in the air can be bumpy just like the ones your car drives over. Now I nab my drink when the propeller plane drops suddenly, and I chuckle if I caught it. Now I'll jump out of a perfectly good airplane because I love the way terminal velocity feels when I skydive. 19. Travel can help you realize you don't have to live in fear or worry. 20. Travel can help you find your beautiful life exists just outside your comfort zone. Go get it.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely adore you and your writing! Thank you for this wonderful reminder of what travel provides.