Long before I ever became a travel advisor I loved to travel. I traveled for work, I traveled for fun, I traveled whenever I could make the time and money align. While people would comment on how much I traveled (especially for work) no one ever asked why I loved it. I suppose it seemed self-explanatory. After all, enough folks say they love to travel that it doesn’t really seem to require a justification, a rationale, or as my 4 year old self would say, a “cuz why”.
Having joined the travel industry some years ago now, I have found that there are as many different “cuz why’s” as there are individuals. People love to travel to escape, to have new adventures, to one-up their friends (yes I said it), to see the things they have only read about, etc, etc. It’s not my gig to question or second guess, just to understand their motivation. After all, why you want to travel will form the basis of what you need the experience to be to enjoy it. As a travel advisor, seems like something I should know about my clients. So I’m really not being nosy :).
In 2020 a survey found that 95% of people planned to travel in the next 15 months
To level the field a bit, let me tell you my “cuz why”. It shapes how I view travel as much as anything else does.
When I was in high school in a Boston Public High School, I was lucky to be in a magnet school, an “International” school that was the smallest public high school in the city where foreign language was a required course to graduate. Truth be told, it was the closest high school to my house so it was more out of sheer convenience than anything else. We actually had a teacher who part of their job was to find summer abroad programs that we could apply to for scholarships. Now I don’t know you, and maybe your crowd had passports before they could walk and expected summer in Europe, but in my crowd I was pretty cool because I had been all the way to Pennsylvania. Nothing against Philly and all, but not exactly the be all and end all as far as travel goes. So to cut to the meat, through a confluence of events I ended up in Zacatecas, Mexico for 6 weeks between my junior and senior year with a group of kids from all over the U.S.
So now to my “cuz why”. I learned on my first day with my host family that not everyone has soda in their fridge. Hell even as a poor kid in Boston I had Mountain Dew on a daily basis. But when I was asked what I wanted with my lunch, I, figuring they might not have Mountain Dew in the house, just asked for a soda. Any soda would do really. I didn’t really understand what was going on when a conversation ensued and my 8 year old host family brother shot out of the house to the corner bodega, but I got clear pretty quickly when everyone else was drinking water or rehydrated milk and I was the only one with a soda.
Over those six weeks I came to understand that a poor kid from an inner-city public school still had so many advantages over families in other parts of the world that weren’t even considered poor by their standard. To say my mind was completely blown is an understatement. My chip, which I carried very firmly on my shoulder all over Boston, also got knocked around a bit as I realized that even at the bottom I was better off than many.
It would take another 7 years before I truly understand that I had to create my own reality, which through sheer unwillingness to back down (and a well-timed move to DC) was the beginning of changing the trajectory of my life. So today, 35 years after that trip to Mexico, you have the person you see before you (metaphorically of course). A you-get-what-you-pay-for headshot, a successful owner of multiple business that allow me to live my passion, and a concrete belief that travel changes people. It might change your thought about a specific historical event, or a culture, or where you fit into the global reality. But one way or the other, you cannot come back the same as you left.
So that is why I love travel. I believe in travel as a conduit to change. And I believe in you as travelers and your ability to absorb the small details of what you see and experience, and that they then become part of you. So on your next trip take a moment and just savor it. For me, and for all those that will never get to wherever you are standing in that moment.