Why travel far... When is the last time you did something for the first time

Why in The World Do You Have to Travel So Far?

In Inspiration, TIPS & ADVICE by Jurga18 Comments

It’s the question I often get, usually from my own family and friends. Why do you have to travel so far? There are so many beautiful places close to home and you definitely haven’t seen it all yet… So why in the world do you have to take those long-haul flights, deal with jet lag and drag your kids to the other side of the world?!

So why, why travel far?

Why Europe is not enough

I won’t say that Europe is not worth seeing – it absolutely is! I love Europe, it’s my favourite place in the entire world and there is just no other place like it… You get in a car early in the morning and start driving and by the end of the day you have passed 6 countries. Each of them with different language, different architecture, local food and different traditions and habits… And I’m not even talking about all the stunning landscapes you see along the way…

We live in Belgium next to the Dutch border, we drive just 10 minutes and we’re abroad. We share the same language with the Netherlands, but that’s about it. The buildings are different, the street signs, the food, even the landscape is different. The moment you pass the border you just now that you are abroad…

We have seen a lot of Europe and we have enjoyed each and every one of our trips. We love going to Paris, to Normandy or to the South of France. Switzerland is our absolute favourite mountain destination and we love to go back whenever we get the chance. We explore the Netherlands and Belgium as much as we can. London and Rome are amongst our absolute favourite cities. We love Italian food and the charming old towns of Tuscany that have no equals anywhere in the world… So why travel any further?

Hiking in Switzerland

Hiking in Switzerland

 

Why we travel far

There are just so many experiences that you cannot have close to home, no matter how much you try.

There are no geysers or icebergs in Belgium and I don’t have to tell you that you won’t run into a bear or a bison in a forest outside Brussels. Although we do get an occasional visit of a squirrel or a deer in our garden, it’s just not the same as seeing kangaroos outside your bedroom window first thing in the morning…

Black bear next to the road in BC Canada

Black bear next to the road in Canada

 

We could take the kids to the zoo (and we do), but it will never compare to seeing a herd of desert elephants on an African safari or cuddling a koala in Australia… And no matter how many aquariums we visit, it will never come even close to an experience of snorkeling amongst the colourful fish in the Grand Barrier Reef or watching a whale jump just meters away from your little boat in Canada.

Whale watching Orkas in Canada

Watching Orkas in Canada

 

There are stunning sand dunes in Lithuania where I come from, but they just don’t colour bright red as the sand dunes in the Sossusvlei in Namibia do. And no matter how hot European summers can be, it will never feel the same as the Red Centre of Australia

Dune 45 in Sossusvlei Namibia

Red sand dunes in Namibia

 

You cannot experience African sunsets or Namibian night sky just by looking at the pictures and there are no words to even try to describe the amazing spectacle of the Northern Lights

Night sky and Milky Way Namibia

Namibian night sky

 

You’ll find some amazingly beautiful scenery in Europe, but we have no canyons or deserts here. And yes, you do need to go all the way to the other side of the world in order to see wild penguins on a beach on a warm summer day (unless you live in South Africa, of course).

We have an amazing cultural diversity here in Europe, but traveling is also about experiencing other cultures in their own local environment. Chinatown in San Francisco is nothing like a real town in China! And Europeans just don’t carry wetsuits and surfboards in the trunk of their car ‘just in case’ like many Australians do.

Traffic in an average city in China

An average street in an average city in China

 

We don’t take siestas and close all the shops every noon here in Western Europe like the Southern countries do. And we definitely don’t wear sport sneakers and white socks to the office like (some) Americans do…

The traffic can be a mess around Antwerp or Brussels, but try and drive in India for a day and you’ll know what real chaos on the roads means. Driving through the desert in Namibia is yet another experience – how many places do you know where you can drive for half a day and not see another car?!

Chaos on the roads in India

Chaos on the roads in India

 

And no matter how good the food in Belgium, France or Italy is, it’s a whole other experience to taste cepelinai in Lithuania, a crocodile steak in South Africa, a snake drink in China or try some street food in Asia… And don’t go asking for crab cakes or a clam chowder in Europe, just as you won’t quickly find Gentse Waterzooi in the U.S.

Snake alcohol drink in China

Snake alcohol drink in China

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

When you travel, there are so many first times. Traveling is all about the the first times. And I remember them all as if it was yesterday…

The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. The first time we rode a donkey in Cyprus and mine refused to walk… Or when I put my head under water and discovered snorkeling for the first time – a whole new world opened up to me… Or that time when we had the whole island to ourselves in the Caribbean (and we were hoping that they wouldn’t forget to pick us up from there in the evening)… Or the first time we rode a hot air balloon and landed in a field amidst the cows… And I’ll never forget the first time I reached the top of a 12,000 ft mountain in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado – exhausted, but so proud that I made it…

Tiny Mopion island near PSV in the Caribbean

Our ‘private’ island for a day

 

There are so many memories, so many first times… And there’s just no way to experience it all without leaving your comfort zone and traveling (far).

When was the last time you did something for the first time

 

Traveling is not that much about going places. It’s about the new, the undiscovered, the different… It’s about all those experiences you can never have close to home. No, not even with those virtual reality glasses that promise to bring the whole world into your living room…

This is why we travel far. This is why nearby is not enough. And this is why we will jump on a plane again and again to head to the other side of the globe looking for many more first times…

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Why in the world do you have to travel to far places

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Why in The World Do You Have to Travel So Far? was last modified: July 11th, 2016 by Jurga

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Comments

  1. You’re so right, and so beautifully written. It made me think of my own far away experiences; of the butterflies the size of your head in Costa Rica, the souks in Morocco, the extremes of America. It’s what makes those long hauls soo worth it! Beautiful piece.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much. Really appreciate it, Alex! We still haven’t been to Costa Rica or Morocco – two more for my list! 😉

  2. I absolutely love this post. I have spent my life moving around the globe – from a childhood between Europe and Africa and my 20’s in North America, travels in Europe, more time in Africa and a trip to Asia…nothing compares to seeing and experiencing new things….meeting new people. I moved between countries living in 6 by the time i was 30. At aged 50 we are moving to Australia next year…as I say as a child I dreamt of a life well travelled and that is the life I live. I wouldn’t change it for anything!

    1. Author

      Wow, that’s indeed a life well travelled, Tracy! We often think back about our trips to Australia – one of the most special places on Earth! And their lifestyle is just so relaxed… Which part of Australia are you moving to?

  3. I definitely think traveling far is important for us to really get a grasp on this massive globe. Even if things are changing is less-developed regions, there are still cultural norms and practices built in that are totally different from our own. That’s why I went to live in Asia for half a decade, honestly. I wanted to see what was happening on the other side of the globe for myself. It’s liberating in so many ways but I think the first thing to be set free is that sense of knowing everything, considering the world is so unpredictable.

    I think you nailed this post in so many ways, Jurga, and I just wanted to share my own thoughts. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for this comment, Duke. I think you are absolutely right – traveling opens up your eyes and teaches you to accept things the way they are. The unpredictable part is scary and fun at the same time, isn’t it?

  4. Wow! I really loved this! I love the experiences that travel gives and being able to see things that are foreign teach so much more than can be explained. Exploring the world is like learning who you are…or who you aren’t, and appreciating the things that you have. I love it. I am so glad you don’t just stay in Europe and that you take your kids with you and travel about. There is no greater classroom, there really isn’t.

    1. Author

      Thanks for stopping by, Kati! I remember when we took our kids to Australia for 5 weeks – they were in preschool then – the last time we could do that (in Belgium school is obligatory from 6 years on). Someone said to me – they’ll miss 5 weeks of school! I told them that at school they will learn about busses, trains, planes while on the trip they’ll actually ride/fly. At school they’ll see pictures of the animals, while on the trip they’ll be able to cuddle and feed them… I told them my kids will learn more in those 5 weeks on the road than in 5 months at school… I don’t say that people should skip school altogether and start traveling full time, but you shouldn’t expect to learn everything at school only…

  5. Hi Jurga,
    I love this post. It’s spot on in so many ways. As T.S. Eliot said “it’s the journey not the arrival that matters”. I always learn something new when I travel. As you point out, it’s all about the new and different. It’s about learning and accepting other cultures and people. And tolerance.

  6. Beautiful piece and so true. I so want to send this to everyone who has asked me that, but the world has so much to offer that we should take advantage of–if we can. 😊

  7. Fantastic article, very relatable. Impressive photos too! My family asks me this questions all the time…I hope one day they understand!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Briana. I think that some people will never understand – they’re just as happy to stay home as we are to travel. You have it or you don’t. Or you go on a trip once and it changes you forever.

  8. You’re so right. I moved across the globe from Boston to Korea back in 2010 and was hit with the same “why?” type questions. I find that they often come from people who haven’t traveled far yet, so they don’t have that wonderful perspective of ‘doing something for the first time.’ Once you have that experience, it really becomes obvious as to why we love to go so far and so often!

  9. A question I often get … “Why a hell do you go so far?” and I would add “Why a hell do you stay for so long? .. aren’t 2 weeks enough for you?” …. well no, I dream big !

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