Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Travel Out of Your Comfort Zone

In talking with various folks of my nation, I’ve noticed something that a great many have in common; namely, an aversion to traveling outside of their own country. Yes, there are numerous places to see and things to do within our own 50 states, but there are some great reasons to get a passport, and step over the international border -

1. Food

Salbutes & Panucos in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico
Salbutes & Panuchos in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico
Okay, it’s at the top of my list. But who doesn’t love food? A certain dish might be the most common food of a nation, but to you it may look like an alien life-form. Remember the words that your mom said to you all those years ago - you won’t know if you’ll like it until you try it. Chilaquiles Verdes might look like a gloppy mess delivered to your table, but once you take a bite of the spicy, vinegary egg/tortilla/salsa mixture you may feel the need to make it for breakfast every other day once you get home (I know, it happened to me!)

Even the dishes on the menu that are familiar can surprise the infrequent traveler. What you might think is the genuine article in restaurants Stateside will pale in comparison to the same dish eaten in its country of origin. A tomato grown in Tuscan soil, after all, can taste different than one bought at your local supermarket, changing the whole complexion of that plate of Pasta Primavera. Even tacos, which we are all familiar with, will be a new and exciting experience when you try them in Mexico!

2. History

Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Our country is great. It’s great because of the all the different people that make us who we are. It’s as true today as it was two centuries ago. Italians, Irish, Russians, Polish...they all have something to contribute to our great nation. What is interesting about going to the country from whence they came is that one can see first-hand what shaped their cultures before they were “exported” to us. Sure, we can go to the local Greek restaurant and see those posters on the wall depicting the Acropolis (you know the ones) and also pictures of the Agean Sea. BUT, to see that monument first-hand, you can’t help but think of the great effort of those that came together to build that thing! You can walk around the islands and notice that most everyone owns a boat, making the Greeks of today just as much of a seafaring people as the ones in the time of Homer.


3. Adventure Indoors and Outdoors

Can you find Nemo in our coastal waters? Can you take the sacred pilgrimage up Mt. Fujisan in the Ozarks? What about attending THE BIGGEST beer festival of them all? Is it in St. Paul, Minnesota?

Nope. Uh-huh. *Hic*Naaah.

That’s right, you have to get out there, and do it right! There are so many festivals, natural wonders and spiritual moments that can only be experienced by traveling abroad. While you’re at it, take some ACTUAL pictures instead of those vacation photos from “Places to See Before You Die” you’ve been posting to Facebook.

4. Meet Someone You Know, But Didn’t Know You Knew

People are people, all around this globe. From Israel to Indonesia you will find politicians, businessmen, and yes, village idiots (some villages may have more than one) other words, the same kinds of people you will find at home.

Sure, some of their customs and clothing may be strange to us, but we all share a common humanity that we recognize in one another, which is probably the most valuable insight you will glean from traveling abroad - recognition of yourself in others throughout the world.

Well, I hope that this article has inspired you to buy that around-the-world airline ticket. Or, at least, to be a little more open to trying something new and different. There is so much to see out there, and so many people willing to share it with you. Take them up on it, and live every moment of what the world has to offer!

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