March 31, 2013

The Empowerment of Travel

Schricker,-Mary-Dec2010By Mary Schricker Gemberling

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain

Men and women have always traveled for various reasons, but visiting places as a leisure activity is a relatively recent trend. Travel can really be traced back to as early as the Neolithic Age with the first sailing vessels and the invention of the wheel, both designed to move us around in different ways. Ancient man then began to build roads for the movement of troops through empires. Travel for the purpose of commerce and trade took explorers to unknown lands, resulting in the transport of unfamiliar riches and treasures. Wealthy Greeks and Romans began to travel for leisure to their summer homes and villas by the sea in cities. In Medieval times, pilgrims and missionaries, driven by their religious convictions, traveled to areas to evangelize the people. In the late 16th century, young aristocrats and upper class men traveled to important European cities to further their education in arts and literature. With the coming of the rail in the early 19th century, travel was revolutionized and no longer available to only the privileged. The industrial revolution brought leisure travel to Europe, as the new middle class now had time to travel, thanks to more efficient and faster machines. For the first time traveling was done for the sole pleasure of it. Affordable air travel soon contributed to international mass tourism as we know it today. With the increase of disposable income and vacation time, tourism has become a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

Traveling has always been a priority of mine, so in my years of working and raising children, I tried to see as much of the United States as I could. But trips abroad did not fit into either my schedule or budget. Since retiring, however, I have had the opportunity to broaden my horizon with visits to three other continents, Africa, Europe, and South America.

I am often asked which places or experiences were my favorites? Was it watching molten lava spill into the ocean on the big island of Hawaii; or quietly gazing at the “The Big Five” in the Bush lands of Africa; or in Italy walking through the ruins of Pompeii or sipping wine at a street side café in Cinque Terre; or can it be the breathtaking views of the Andes mountains in Patagonia? The list could go on and on with each experience being unique and enriching. What I have learned is that the world is full of breathtaking scenery unlike any other, unique and diverse topography, a wealth of history, and tasty cuisine. But regardless of the country or scenery, it’s the people I really enjoy. So many of them are remarkably friendly and proud, hard-working and humble, and cannot wait to share their mores and customs with us.

Today each of our personal reasons for travel may differ, but one thing is certain traveling in general increases our knowledge and widens our perspective. Observing new customs helps change some of our habits and create new ones. Above all traveling teaches you a great deal about yourself as it instills a crucial sense of independence and empowerment as you navigate the differences in people, cultures, and language. And above all it serves as a reminder of how fortunate and comfortable we are in our own environment back home. My husband Gary and I always say we can’t wait to leave and we can’t wait to come home!!

Mary Schricker Gemberling
A former Seniors Real Estate Specialist and educator, Mary is the author of two books, The West End Kid and Labor of Love; My Personal Journey through the World of Caregiving.

A Labor of Love; My Personal Journey through the World of Caregiving by Mary Schricker can be purchased at