June 27, 2018

The Empowerment of Travel

By 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 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. The 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 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, where for the first time traveling was done for its sole pleasure.

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 major worldwide industry. In 2017, travel generated $2.4 trillion for the U.S. economy, supporting 15.6 million American jobs. According to a recent Gallop poll, 55 percent of all American adults plan on vacationing this summer, with the average American vacationing for a week or less. July is by far the most popular month, with August coming in second, followed by June and September. Most will stay in the United States but will travel to one or more states away from their home.

Traveling has always been a priority of mine, and in my years of working and raising children, I tried to see as much of the United States as I could. Since retiring I have had the opportunity to broaden my horizon with visits to three other continents, Africa, Europe, and South America. 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 history 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 us a great deal about ourselves as it instills a crucial sense of independence and empowerment as we 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!!

A former Seniors Real Estate Specialist and educator, Mary is the author of three books, The West End Kid, Labor of Love; My Personal Journey through the World of Caregiving, and Hotel Blackhawk; A Century of Elegance.

11 Reasons Why Travel Can make you a Happier Person!

Whether you are traveling for business, on a one-week family holiday, or have sold everything to pursue a life on the road, traveling can make you a happier person:

1. Find your self-confidence by learning to deal with unexpected situations. No matter how carefully you plan something usually happens to test your ability to compromise.

2. Happiness is infectious. When locals are happy, smiling and friendly, it can lift your mood and is a good habit to take home with you.

3. Being away makes you appreciate family and home. Remember the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

4. You make new friends. When people are away from home there seem to be fewer boundaries to cross and making friends becomes much easier.

5. Detox from social media. Social media can be used for both good and bad, but it’s healthy for everyone to take a break and stop to “smell the roses’.

6. Getting some ‘You’ time. Traveling gives us breathing space that is often lost in our usual day-to-day existence. Having a moment to take advantage of peace and quiet allows us to let go of stress and just enjoy being in the moment.

7. Education, Education, Education! Travel presents ways in which we can further our knowledge and education. Learning makes our brains more active, which increases our level of happiness.

8. Get outside and boost your Vitamin D. Getting out of the house or office can give you that healthy glow that makes you feel better and lasts far beyond just your vacation time.

9. You are more interesting. Traveling gives you added fuel for conversation about events or happenings that occurred on your vacation.

10. New experiences give us moments to remember. Recalling memories of happiness can sustain a feeling of contentment long after the moment has passed and new experiences are memories that can stay with you forever.

11. The effects of traveling are not just short-term. Aside from making you happier in the short-term, traveling can make you a much more contented, happy and relaxed person in the long run too. Travel leaves us with the memories and personal skills such as confidence, broad-mindedness, friends and a more worldly perspective- that make people happy.

Filed Under: Personal Growth