If you’re in contact with us often, you’ll find that a few times each year your email will bounce back with an out-of-office message telling you that we’re away somewhere exploring. Sometimes it’s a big trip (like our spring visit to France) and sometimes it’s a few hours north for a weekend in the land of no phone service. I’ve alwaysÂ had the travel bug, and, aside from blaming it on genetics, I often wonder where it comes from. What is it that drives us to travel again and again?
Let’s start with what it’s not. I know it is not dissatisfaction with where we live. I love our little downtown home in a city that’s just starting to rediscover itself, and I love where I’m from originally – the beautiful Door Peninsula with beaches 20 miles in any direction.Â Instead, I think it has to do with two things: curiosity and re-appreciation. Curiosity is what drives the desire to plan the trip. It’s what has us wondering, “What do the buildings lookÂ like there? What does the food taste likeÂ there? What does the weather feel like there?” It’s a sort ofÂ yearning to experience newÂ things that aren’t a part of our day-to-day lives (which can be as simple – or as profound – as seeing mountains for the first time when you spent your whole life in the flatlands of eastern Wisconsin).
In my experience, if we give ourselves enough time with one place, these discoveries are followed by a humbling gratefulness for being more connected to the rest of the world.
The second part, re-appreciation, is harder to explain. Re-apprceiation (although it’s possible that I just made that word up) is the thing that has us coming home from aÂ trip happier and more bonded to the people in our lives. When we travel as a family, as a couple, or as a group of friends, we are working together to overcome obstacles (language barriers, getting lost, travel anxieties) and there are moments that require skillsÂ we don’t often use at home. Partners are reminded of the wonderful characteristics and talents possessed by this person they love that are easily forgottenÂ in our day-to-day lives where so many “conversations” revolve aroundÂ how much laundry there is to do, or the leak that needs to be fixed, or the obligations that fill the weekend. We can more easily feel those skills – patience, flexibility, creative problem solving, street savviness – when we are out of our normal spaces, away from our jobs, and more open to everything around us, including each other.
This is why we travel. This is why each year includes plans of an adventure to someplace we’ve never been. It’s why my idea book comes home fuller, my film all spent and memory cards depleted, a suitcase of dirty laundry, and that feeling of happy exhaustion.
Images above are 35 mm film scans from our trip to California in late February.