We know that COVID-19 has put a lot of travel plans on hold, but we wanted to give you a little inspiration for all your future adventures, as well as some hope in these uncertain times.
There’s a famous quote, one which you’ll see cited by the Insta-famous and plastered on motivational posters galore: ‘Travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer.’ Now, we’re not saying that this doesn’t make us roll our eyes a little (have they never heard of shares, etc?), but it really got us thinking, especially at this moment in time, as to what travel means to us.
Travel means something different to everyone, and the answers we garnered from our own office mini-survey highlighted just that! So, why do you travel?
To Have Something in the Calendar
‘I like to have a trip booked, so that I always have something to look forward to throughout the year.’ – Helen
Having something to look forward to is essential for our mental health, and what’s more exciting than seeing a holiday coming up in your diary? Whether you planned your trip last week or six months ago, the idea of packing up, and getting away from that everyday routine is important for our wellbeing, and is almost certainly a popular reason why people travel.
We understand that many of you may have had to cancel travel plans in the coming months, but we think it’s important to emphasise that you’ll have a getaway in the calendar again at some point in the future.
‘I travel because it never fails to broaden my horizons and widen my knowledge. Also, and more classically, for a warmer climate and some sun on my pale, pale skin.’ – Maeve
While we probably all recognise Maeve’s comment about getting some sun on our bones, it might be less obvious that travel is actually associated with learning and problem solving. According to researchers who devised an experiment to test the cognitive changes that occur when we travel, ‘the experience of another culture endows us with a valuable open-mindedness, making it easier to realise that a single thing can have multiple meanings’. Similarly, in a recent experiment conducted by psychologist Lile Jia at Indiana University, it was discovered that subjects placed at a significant distance from a particular problem were able to offer more and varied solutions than those closer to the problem. It was concluded that, in short, ‘distance is intellectually liberating’ and therefore makes it easier for us to expand our knowledge and widen our responses. And you thought your holiday was just about getting a tan…
To See Things Differently
‘It’s true that travel changes how you see things – every country I’ve been to has challenged perceptions I had for the better.’ – Eleanor
Whether we like it or not, we all have perceptions of what a place will be like. Take the UK, for example – if you were a potential tourist and all you knew of the country was what you saw on the news, TV or in films, you might think we’re all either lords and ladies in vast houses (thank you, Downton Abbey…) or sunburnt individuals who love nothing more than a cold one in a pub garden. It’s understandable, then, that we have these perceptions, but travelling opens our eyes to the fact countries aren’t just what we see in the media – there’s a whole lot of good that’s never even mentioned!
To Experience Another Culture
‘I travel to appreciate the beauty of the world around me. From the friendliness of people the world over to the incredible things humans have created, I’m constantly in awe of the stories that are woven through time, and the fact that I’m in just the right moment to see it.’ – Felicia
‘I travel so I can experience a range of different cultures from all around the globe. From exploring the ancient streets of Rome, to eating an authentic croissant in a Parisien café – travelling lets me step out of my own bubble and into another.’ – Oliver
Now, we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with the culture in the United Kingdom but, as we’ve already discussed, experiencing another way of life opens you up to all the idiosyncrasies of the world outside our own small island. Let’s take food as an example (ironically, another reason why people travel!). It’s true that we have an international food scene in the UK, but have you ever considered that the pasta in Italy may be better than the boil-at-home stuff from Tesco, or that Itsu’s sushi is OK but not a patch on Japan’s… Or that the Icelandic delicacy of kæstur hákarl (fermented shark) tastes better on that isle’s frozen shores? Spoiler: it doesn’t! The point is, these dishes are a part of that country’s identity, and sampling such delights in their traditional setting somehow helps us understand that culture all the more. The same is true for art, music and theatre… But we’ll admit that the cuisine is always a big pull for us.
To Relax and Unwind
‘I travel to reinvigorate myself. When immersed in the culture of a new place, you can forget your everyday worries, and give in to the joy of what’s happening around you.’ – Rosie
Ask yourself, when was the last time you truly relaxed? In between all the commuting, cooking dinner, deadlines and gym classes you don’t really enjoy, it’s hard to find a moment in which to take a break and just breathe. When you’re on holiday, though, none of those everyday worries seem to matter. Do you want to sit by the pool with a book and a cocktail? You’re on holiday! Do you want to spend two hours over breakfast, only to have lunch an hour later? Yep, still on holiday. How about not setting an alarm? Go on – you deserve the lie in! The truth is, when we’re somewhere beautiful, away from those niggling stresses and the daily rush, it’s far easier to put your feet up, kick back a gear and focus on a little wellness. We’re no yogis, but we can definitely see the appeal of a meditation and yoga retreat.
‘Life is essentially a cycle of commuting, working, telly, with a bit of supermarket and pub in between. Travelling allows me to break that routine for a period. Instead, I’m exploring, learning, meeting people and being amazed by what other countries outside of my bubble have to offer. Wherever I go, it’s a wonderful interruption to my life!’ – Vanessa
We’re not saying that life’s routines aren’t enjoyable (they can actually be quite comforting and fun at times), but breaking out of that repetitive cycle and escaping somewhere always makes for a welcome change. We all get to a point where we think ‘right, I need a break’, and no ‘break’ is quite so drastic as jetting off for new shores, where there’s literally no routine in sight. This sense of escapism in travel is ubiquitous and something we can probably all relate to, even if you do have your at-home schedule down to a tee.
‘I travel (especially road trips) because I love waking up in the morning and setting off without knowing where I’m going to arrive that evening. It’s an adventure, a special kind of freedom and I become a special kind of ‘me’ when travelling. I travel because I love surprises.’ – Marius
We love Marius’ sense of adventure, but even if you do have a plan as to where you’ll end up each night, that idea of discovering something new is part of travel’s appeal. In your usual surroundings, more than not, you know what’s around the corner – even a day out can be somewhat predictable (a National Trust property will have a tea room, for example), but the same isn’t true of a new destination. If you are up for a little discovery, why not put the travel guide away and just wander? As Bilbo Baggins himself mused:
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
To Improve Your Everyday
‘My wife and I travel back and forth between western and eastern Europe to both enjoy holidays and also share our cultures with each other, deepening our mutual understanding. This manages to mix excitement and intellectual interest with a slice of romance as we translate those experiences into better communication in our everyday life.’ – Adrien
Cue the ‘awhs’ for our resident lovebird, Adrien! In all seriousness, though, travelling can help with your everyday life – for all of the reasons listed above. Whether you’re learning, escaping, relaxing or rejuvenating, a getaway can assist in making those at-home periods better… And not just because you have a tan!
Of course, the dreaded ‘holiday blues’ can be a side-effect of a holiday, but maybe use your experiences as an antidote to these ‘back to the grind lows’? After all, you may have learnt something about a new culture, or even something about yourself, and that’s always a plus. In an article featured in The Guardian, travel writer Johan Lehrer surmised that:
‘We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.’
I couldn’t say it better myself.
So, which category do you find yourself fitting into? Maybe you recognise more than one of these reasons, or choose to dedicate a holiday a year to fulfilling one reason in particular. Either way, it’s inevitable that mankind will continue to travel with a variety of motivations in mind. Of course, the future of travel is being called into question at the present, with an especial focus on sustainable methods of getting away and eco-friendly accommodation.
We’ll leave you with the wise words of one of our team:
‘I wouldn’t underestimate the advantages of a life well-travelled, nor sneer at the chance of a cheap flight abroad…Travel broadens the mind, sharpens the senses and gives you a wicked brown tan.’ – Ben