This article was first published in the summer edition of ‘At The End Of The Day’, my organization’s in-house magazine.
In the late 18th Century, a Frenchman by the name of Xavier de Maistre pioneered what became known as ‘room travel’. Instead of packing up sixteen trunks, commandeering two stewards and journeying on trains and sailing vessels to new worlds, de Maistre donned his blue and pink pajamas and set about exploring his room.
In ‘Journey Around My Bedroom’, he participated in grand old adventures, starting with his couch. What we glean from his writings is that while we all can’t be brave explorers like Cook and Magellan, we can all look at our own surroundings with a different eye, taking the time to notice what we have already seen. It’s less about where in the world we are heading as the mindset with which we travel. It’s an interesting way to look at travel, particularly as many of us take a vacation this time of year.
There is no one-solution-fits-all when it comes to the traveling mindset: the need for independence and freedom; to relax and recharge; to break the habits and lethargy that occur when things are familiar and routine. I find travel recharges my spirit of curiosity and provides me with freedom and independence.
I like the person I am when I travel. I’m open to new experiences, more tolerant of hiccups, and take the time to enjoy all the little nuances of a new place or a new culture.
There are a plethora of websites and books telling you where to travel, but not telling you how or why to travel.
Why we travel is different for all of us, but it contributes in some way to our personal identity. In his book, ‘The Art of Travel’, the Swiss philosopher and writer Alain de Botton believes we spend our lives searching for happiness and travel reveals to us what life is or could be outside the constraints of survival. By traveling to new places and experiencing the foreign, we gain a greater understanding of our true sense of self and also what resonates with us.
Travel can also be beneficial for you in other ways, particularly for your mental and physical wellbeing. In the latter half of the 18th Century, there was a belief returning periodically to countryside would restore your health and recharge your soul. This is still a widely accepted belief. Many health retreats are located outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, as a retreat for your body and mind, and as a way to reconnect with nature.
Another reason to travel is to provide sources of inspiration and gravitas that something that at once humbles and inspires you. It could be the exuberant feeling of standing on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, looking up at the great pyramids of Giza, or watching the mighty Mekong River rush by. It’s significant and I enjoy experiences that remind me or how small I really am, things that provide some weight and perspective to my life.
One of my favorite places to visit that renews me and reaffirms my love for travel is right here in the Bay Area. I adore airports: the hustle and bustle of airliners, passengers, cargo and support services. At any time of day, you can board a plane to take you anywhere in the world. It’s a lovely thought.
But you don’t always have to travel to exotic, faraway lands in search of adventure. Sometimes a different mindset and a new skill such as wordpainting or sketching, can help us to see the beauty in the familiar. Start by looking around a familiar place as though you’ve never been there before. Stretch your imagination. You will be surprised what you encounter in your own environment, just like de Maistre did in his PJs.
Why do you love to travel?