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Why I love to travel    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Something dormant in me comes alive when I travel. There is this extra awareness, joy, and anticipation, which make it impossible for me not to be in the present moment. To travel changes me. It makes me more accepting of other people and their way of life, it makes me appreciate all that I have so much more, and to visit a place I haven’t been to before inspires me. I feel like I am a collector of experiences, these sweet memories I can take out and cherish at any given moment.

 

I love spinning my globe imagining the next destination. I love browsing for cheap airfares, googling hotels, and buying travel books. I even love being at the airport. For 22 years I have started and ended my travels at O’Hare. She is like a friend who, no matter how long you’ve been apart, will always be there for you. You pick up just where you left it the last time. I’ve dropped off and picked up my dear friends and family members more times than I can remember, and at every occasion I am filled with strong emotions. Hellos are easy, goodbyes are difficult, therefore I always say: “see’ya” rather than “adieu”

 

To travel is a challenge and a treat wrapped up in one, and I try to challenge myself to a treat every year. When? There’s always a good time to travel, but ideally I prefer the winter season right after the holidays. I’m frazzled after all of the art shows, it’s cold, and I hopefully have some saved up money to use. Where? Somewhere I haven’t been to, a place with highly unique nature, animals, or culture. I want to see something different. How? I always analyze airfares, research hotel prices, and comparison shop, so that I get the best deal possible. 

 

About a week before my flight the travel fever begins. I can feel the anticipation mixed with anxiety build when I am packing that bag. However, when I am all checked in lingering at the airport, I just feel peace and gratitude.  I can relax into my next adventure. Arriving at my chosen destination the anticipation starts again. I’m like a child on Christmas day. What will tomorrow bring? It’s like a treasure hunt my dad used to make me; maps with clues and surprises hidden at nearby locations. I’ve kept this childlike sense of wonder, except now the hidden treasures are faraway museums, places to snorkel, authentic restaurants, or other places unique to the region.

 

Just like your everyday life, traveling can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and difficult. I’ve gotten sea sick in Bali, fever in Israel, and food poisoning in more countries than I care to remember. I’ve freaked out during a night dive in Curacao, and while climbing up to a cave in remote Laos. I’ve cried at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, felt grief stricken seeing what happened at the Killing Fields out side Phnom Pen, and overwhelmed by all of the skeletal remains at Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora. But it’s part of life, part of the journey; to see, to feel, to understand, and to not forget. It humbles me.

 

Sometimes I wonder where it comes from, the wanderlust. Was I born that way? Is there a gene for it? As a child I had so much anxiety I didn’t even want to stay at my friend’s house. Strange food scared me, and now I will eat almost anything on a dare. I grew up, got a taste for life and traveling, and now it’s what I crave.  

 

To share these experiences with someone is even more amazing. Fortunately my fiancé caught my travel fever, and now this is a big part of our life together. On our last trip we visited the Galapagos Islands, and there were numerous times I turned to him with tears in my eyes thanking him for coming there with me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. This was a place I’ve dreamed of going to since I read Kurt Vonnegut’s book with the same name over 20 years ago. It was always on my where? list, but I didn’t think it could ever be on the when? list because I didn’t have the how?. Everything I heard was that it was very pricey. Thankfully through some research and good luck we managed to stay at hostels for 15-25 dollars per person/night, and only paid extra for the incredible day trips. All the worries from home disappear when you are snorkeling with sharks, sea lions, turtles, and spotted eagle rays. Talk about being in the moment when you count twenty eight 6’ sharks swimming right below you!

 

To wake up in a foreign land, to know that today I will experience something I’ve never been part of before, to see, hear, smell, and taste something new for my palette, that’s what feeds my soul. And then I am ready, ready to come home to my closet full of clothing, my familiar food, my dear friends and my trustworthy studio. Since I am an artist I do miss creating if I stay away too long. I long for my studio, the way that I can just go downstairs to play with my fabrics, buttons, and ribbons and art magically appears in front of my eyes. So I explore my supplies for a while until I feel the craving again. There’s a Viking in me who innately must conquer!

 Burningman 2009, our first trip together.

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