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Chances are that if you’re reading this, it’s because you love travel. But have you ever taken time to think about why? Is it that you live for adventure and discovery? It is the incessant desire to experience that which is unfamiliar and to learn about the world around you?
Collette recently introduced a new campaign that touches on the reasons people travel, and it inspired us at Canadian Traveller to look at our own motivations.
So we asked our contributors to share their reasons, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to tell us yours.
For freedom of self
I was a curious little girl, and consequently, often scorned as being “nosy.” So I learned, over time, to ask fewer questions. To mind – as instructed – my own darn business. It's been a difficult lesson to unlearn. Whenever I travel, though, I’ve found that no matter where I go, as a tourist, my curiosity is actually welcome – even celebrated. Tour guides in particular love questions; engagement shows our interest in the destinations they work hard to represent. Curiosity is a sign of appreciation – of respect. And there's no better way to get to know the locals than by asking friendly questions. For some, travel is about exploration; transformation. For me, it’s about indulging a quality that doesn’t always belong in everyday life. Most tours always finish with the closing invitation: “Any questions?” I always try to have plenty.
To push limits
I'm a writer of creative non-fiction and I know that in order to bring humanity to life, I must experience life beyond the places I've called home. With crippling anxiety like mine, travel can be tough, yet visiting new countries, eating different foods, and being surrounded by life experiences different from my own is a way of challenging my fears, expanding my views and informing my work. During trips, I make a point to visit destination highlights. In Ireland, I followed the route of characters in my favourite childhood book and visited Yeats' Grave. In Florence, Italy, I graced Michelangelo's famous library steps. My fears follow me on these trips, but as I explore, I connect with all the words that came before me while being grateful and creating my own.
I sometimes travel to connect, not just with the people and places I’m visiting – but with myself. I first encountered the beautiful country of Jordan as a 12-year-old while watching “Lawrence of Arabia” on TV with my seven older siblings. “I’m going there someday,” I piped up. They all laughed. I was the dreamer in the family. And so I dreamt of Jordan, of retracing the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia through the vast desert of Wadi Rum – which I eventually did, encountering nomadic Bedouins along the way. I longed to visit the ancient city of Petra, which out-shadowed even my wildest imaginings. It was in the desert that I felt most grounded, rooted, at one with the elements: the incessant wind, towering dunes of sand, and the all-pervasive quiet – except for the lonely echo of a camel’s hooves. Jordan enabled me to reconnect with the dreamer in me.
To me, travel is all about people. I typically travel alone because I find it easier to branch out and meet others. The people I meet while getting lost down alleyways, hiking up mountains and exploring tourist attractions shape and amplify my international experiences. I’ve had deep discussions in other languages, learned about beliefs different from my own, discovered customs from diverse cultures and found common ground with individuals in every one of the 34 countries I’ve visited. The people I interact with abroad teach me more about the world and myself than any class, book or newspaper ever could.
The reason I love travel is because I see it as a unifying force in an often divided world. Wherever you go (no matter how close to home), there are differences in the way people live, look, speak, act, learn – but the real beauty of travel is the constant reminder that regardless of said differences, there are universal commonalities that unite us. Everyone is simply looking for human connection, and by sharing our differences with one another, it means a greater understanding of and appreciation for humankind and the world we live in.
Editor-in-chief, Canadian Traveller
Even as a child, travelling fascinated me; discovering a new piece of the world was a profound adventure. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that what I value most about world travel is less the discovery of a new place, and more so, self-discovery. Instead of physical souvenirs, I bring back the knowledge and understanding of a new piece of myself that I didn’t previously know existed. To me, travel is about redefining who I am and understanding my tiny place in this big world.
In my 20s, I wanted to travel to see cool places that I’d seen in magazines and on TV. But as I’ve gotten older and have taken an interest in history, culture and the experiences of other human beings, my urge to travel has evolved. I want to be able to stand in the places where major events occurred. I want to know what mundane, everyday life looked like in the past, and compare that to how it feels now. I want to know about the triumphs and struggles that people have faced in places that seem picture-perfect on Instagram. I travel to deepen my understanding of the human experience through both the past and present.
Publisher, Canadian Traveller
Last summer, I travelled north of the Arctic Circle. It was my fifth time into the High Arctic, but I headed further afield than I'd ever gone before-all the way to 74 degrees and the shores of Beechey Island, where the graves of 19th-Century explorers and Thule artefacts were the only human signs. It's a land owned by walruses, narwhal and polar bears. I felt both connected and isolated at once; the vastness of the Earth was palpable. I love that feeling. I've felt it in the chaotic streets of New Delhi, India. On the summit of Borneo's Mount Kinabalu. On the white-sand beaches of southern Thailand. In the rainforest of Colombia's Pacific Coast. That's what real travel is to me: when you can feel small against the massiveness of our planet, separated from the comforts of home and connected to something new and exciting all at once.
Editor, Explore Magazine
For health & happiness
I travel because I’ve learned that in order to be happy and healthy, I require near-constant opportunities to learn new things. Travel meets these needs perfectly. I love being thrown into a new country and culture where I need to figure out how to cross the street (I’m talking to you, Cambodia!), basic etiquette (greet everyone on the bus in St. Martin), how to avoid scams (beware the henna ladies in Morocco), the proper technique for snorkelling with whale sharks (don’t dive below them in La Paz, Mexico or they’ll think you’re an aggressive dolphin), and how I can eat as much passionfruit as possible (everywhere).
As the longest-running tour operator in North America, Collette has provided guided travel for over 100 years, offering diversified travel styles including small groups, single hotel stays, faith-based experiences, river cruises, and rail journeys. For more information, visit www.collette.com.
Want to experience the world without leaving home?
Canadian Traveller’s Experience The World box delivers a collection of specially-curated items for curious and adventurous people who have a genuine interest in bringing more of the world into their home. The Experience The World box is an extension of the travel experience, letting you re-live past travel experiences, or to inspire your next vacation.