In this world of Instagram influencers, a world where you can find pillows embroidered with the word “wanderlust” at every home goods store and every other young millennial has a travel blog, it’s easy to lose sight of why travel is so important.
I can’t speak for other developed counties, but I know that a large majority of Americans are spoiled and often guilty of forgetting what they have. Traveling allows us to learn about how other people live on a deeper level and allows us to gain a much stronger understanding of how the world works.
That goes for both international and national travel. Having grown up on Long Island, I took for granted that New York City was only a 45 minutes drive away. I took for granted that in five hours or less, I could get to D.C., Baltimore, Boston, and many other important cities. It wasn’t until I traveled to Provo, UT, Santa Fe, NM, Holland, MI and so many other places that I learned what it was truly like to live in America.
You can read about it and watch movies, but until you’ve eaten authentic Navajo meals from the reservation, fresh pulled pork from a dive-y pit stop in Tennessee, and hot gumbo from a quaint establishment in southern Louisiana, can you really understand it? Different parts of America have different menus, different scenery, different weather, and different lives.
My decision to visit all 50 states before my 25th birthday was one of the best I’ve made. Before I even thought of the idea, I had been back and forth to Disney World more times than I could count, but I had never ridden horses through the New Mexico desert or hiked up the snowy Wasatch Mountains. Now, I’ve done all that and much more!
While I was lucky to grow up 10 minutes from a beach and 45 minutes from NYC, others were lucky to grow up with acres of property and horses. Others were lucky to have farm-fresh eggs in the morning. Others were lucky to open the blinds and see a sea of snow-capped mountains.
America is a beautiful and amazing place and every nook and cranny of it is different. I thought I understood that from textbooks and Instagram posts, but I didn’t. I really didn’t understand America as well as I thought I did until I started exploring it – and I cannot wait until I can begin exploring the rest of the world!