I have a confession. Though I adore my community of travel writers and bloggers, and have developed some very endearing and close friendships with many of them, when it comes to listening to most travel writers talk, especially to others about travel, I cringe. I want to roll my eyes and walk away exasperated in frustration at the abundance of arrogance and obvious disconnect to the reality of the world most people live in.
I get that our job is to inspire, motivate, deliver the image and message of places we visit in a way that will excite others to go there. And there are a lot of us who can do that very well. But there are fewer who can do that in such a way that it inspires and motivates not just an exclusive elite few but also those who would never consider travel as something they could ever do.
I too constantly put myself in check and question my own style and ways in which I deliver my messages to others.
Because the truth is the face of travel is not one. The possibilities are not just for those who are young, freelancers (or with flexible work schedules or with no work at all), who live off the mileage garnered from their airline credit cards, who can speak of having logged in a gazillion miles in flight over just a few months, and who visit Paris or Timbuktu as many times as most of us travel to the store for milk.
That is a face of travel, however, and they have an audience and following which I respect and admire and applaud for the courage, sacrifices, and lifestyle they have chosen, often at such a young age, often tinted with no goals other than the next trip ahead.
But the one other face of travel are people more like me. We are middle-aged women (or men), who chose to get married and some of us even have children. Most of us also have a job, schedules, bills, roots, homes, beds we crave and sleep in more often then we sit in a plane. But we love to travel and we want to see the world and we want to take our kids and loved ones with us. We might never log more than a few miles on a plane or car this year. We might just take a vacation or two. We might save our money for years before we venture to Europe, and Timbuktu, well, might have to wait even longer.
But we are no less travelers and passionate about it then anyone else. Our road trips to Maryland or visits to Pennsylvania and the effects and experiences we gain from our trips are no less valuable and worthy of stories then anyone else’s.
It is still travel. And it is still beautiful. And it is still worth it. Not only worth doing, but worth encouraging, and worth highlighting and worth applauding for doing, especially when you had to take a few personal days from work, and save up for it, and drag the kids along, and search for the package deal. It is still travel and you should still do it and feel great about it.
I do want people to aspire to see places far away, lands unknown. I want people to read something that is so beautiful and so grand that it makes them crave being there more than anywhere else in their life. That’s what travel writers do, that’s what we dream of. But I also dream of making that family of five see the beauty of the trip they can take not that far from home, that seems attainable and affordable, that makes them feel like they have not only enriched their lives, but that of their children.
The face of travel can be your own and I hate when others speak to those who aspire this and instead of helping them believe it, they take that sense of possibility even farther away.
I know what I do is not something most can, at least not in the same way or with the same frequency. I realize that I have opportunities to do things most people wouldn’t – that I myself wouldn’t – if it wasn’t my job. But I don’t forget that I am also a mom, married with three kids who has responsibilities here at home, bills, schedules, and roots to tend to. And it is as that person I hope to speak to you. Because I want you to travel, and I believe that regardless of what life throws at us, that we can and should because of what it does to us spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, but also because of what we can teach our children in the process.
So just remember it’s not about the luxury or the miles covered or the exotic location. It’s about the journey, the people you meet and the things you see along the way.
May you always feel inspired and have travel within your reach. May you be the face of travel.