The answers given for why people travel range from the practical to the romantic. For me, the urge to travel came about from a childhood preoccupation with not wanting to miss out. Once I realized what a big world existed beyond the confines of the small town I grew up in, ennui and impatience set in.
Why People Travel Not to Miss Out
I actually used to wonder if recess went on without me if I missed a day of school. In theory, I knew everyone would still be playing King of the Hill in my absence, but that didn’t stop my egomaniacal musings. Decades later, I’m still a lot like that little kid who never wanted to be left out, only now my playground encompasses the entire planet.
Hungering for More
My world as a child ran the narrow length of north Idaho’s Silver Valley. Growing up in the midst of the world’s richest silver vein only made me long for a life beyond those heavily forested mountains. Yet, my family rarely went anywhere except for weekend camping trips.
While I was in middle school, a visiting aunt and cousin from Houston took me on a weekend trip to Glacier National Park. Though less than four hours from my home, I had no idea it existed. Once my eyes got their fill of the Going to the Sun Road and the alpine peaks, I couldn’t help but wonder at all the other sights I could possibly see.
At about the same time, I discovered the profound escapism of books. The places I read about became the places I longed to see. For hours on end, I locked myself in my room enraptured by Anne Rice’s vampires haunting the streets of New Orleans. Who were these book people that occupied places I could only dream of?
Working in National Parks
The proverbial deal was sealed when I signed up to work my first summer in Yellowstone National Park. Even though only a six-hour drive away, I had never been there either. One summer led to another and to another. For good measure, I threw in a couple of winter seasons in Florida’s Everglades as well.
I worked with people from all over the world. Many full-time seasonal employees embraced the nomadic lifestyle. For a while I did as well and stopped attending college. The road trips between park jobs opened up the scenery of America.
That freedom to be able to go anywhere and do absolutely anything taught me a lot about the type of person I wanted to be. I didn’t have to feel like I was missing out because all I had to do was pack up and go to the places that called to me.
Looking for the Next Hit
Travel is like a drug. After the first taste, more is needed to satisfy the craving. Or, and pardon another cliché, travel often makes a person feel like a kid in a candy store. Some of us are born with a certain sense of unease and longing, which are not necessarily bad things. To long for new places means I continually test the person I am becoming by reaching to experience more.
While some people travel to relax, I travel to see and do as much as possible. Real life is for downtime, and vacations are for experiencing life to its fullest. I’m decidedly not a basking on the beach sort of traveler. I’d rather strap a pack to my back and hike ten miles to get to my destination.
Part of not missing out by availing myself to travel, also means I learn as much as possible about the sights I visit. Travel feeds my inner nerd. Athens, Istanbul, Munich, Chicago, NYC—there will always be more to see.
Do you travel to not miss out? If not, what’s your reason for traveling? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below!
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