Where would we be without travel?  Where would I be?

Travel teaches people not to fear the world.  Too often do I hear people speak in fear about countries they’ve never visited, people they’ve never met, cultures they’ve never experienced.  Even food they’ve never tried.  And for what?  Where does it leave you?  No further than your front door.

And as our favorite hobbit once told us…”It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

And isn’t the uncertainty exciting?  I mean, Bilbo found a dragon and the world’s most powerful ring.  That has to count for something.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should hop a plane to a dangerous war-zone to prove a point.  Nor am I saying anyone needs to travel more than 50 miles away from that front door.  But without exploring a new country, a new town, or even that new bookshop down the street, you’ll never learn anything.

Through my experiences traveling over the years, including many adventures with the family, a foreign exchange trip in Bordeaux, and another in London, I’ve come to believe that travel is the key to open-mindedness.  And with an open mind, with a complex understanding of other cultures, we can come to terms with our own idiosyncrasies.  With traditions that don’t make sense.  Cultural expectations we forget we hold.  And sometimes, I find it better to simply smile and shrug at those odd cultural habits I adhere to.  I am who I am, right?  Other times, I feel like I’ve been slapped in the face for being such an idiot and believing what my culture has raised me to believe.

I’ll never find my perfect place.  I understand that.  But with travel, by meeting new people and seeing new places without limitations or fear, I can find the perfect balance between the new and old, creating a new “culture” that’s all my own.  Cliched and trite though it may be, if we all commit to exploring more than our living room, we’ll learn what needs to change in this world.  And in my opinion, that’s the only way to live.