Today I’m kicking off a daily series that will go until Christmas Eve: the 12 Days of Travel. In this collection, I’ll reflect on my travel experiences from 2015: reminiscing and sharing what I’ve learned and loved about traveling this year.
If I had to pick a theme for this year’s adventures, I’d say this year has been about culmination and rediscovery. It seems like all of my travels this year have fallen into one of two categories: either I’ve visited places I’ve wanted to go to for years or I’ve visited places that I’ve been to year after year and know well, and yet I still found new things.
The Culmination of Long-Awaited Experiences
This year was a textbook lesson in what anticipation can do for trip enjoyment. Admittedly, sometimes overanticipation and hype can ruin an experience, but the right amount of excitement, combined with the right amount of waiting, can produce blissful moments.
Winnie the Pooh explains this power:
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
— A.A. Milne
Take, for example, our trip to Italy. I’ve wanted to go there since I knew what Italy was. Since I learned about Rome and the Coliseum in school, since the first time I saw a picture of Venice’s canals, since my cousin told me how much she loved Florence, since I Google-imaged Cinque Terre, in which I laid eyes on a scene like the one below.
Travel is a constant exercise in the power of waiting. Whether it’s anticipating the sunset so you can snap a photo like the one above, counting down the days to your next trip, waiting in line for the next attraction, or spending the time it takes to arrive at your destination — if you hate waiting, travel will be a frustrating experience.
This year, I learned that there’s a lot to that waiting game beyond enduring it. Learning to appreciate the wait, to make the most of the anticipation, and sometimes to use the wait for a spontaneous detour or memory-making conversation with travel companions — that’s what travel’s all about.
The Resdiscovery of the Ordinary
Another common travel experience this year was visiting places I know well, including Atlanta, my hometown of Augusta, and various locations in the state we live, North Carolina. Despite knowing some of these locations incredibly well by either having lived there or logged too many trips to count — I’m always impressed by all the new things there are to discover.
Appreciation for and rediscovery of the ordinary is another essential lesson for the traveler, and for anyone who wants to keep their life full of adventures. Adventure can take place in your own backyard just as easily as it can a half a word away.
One of my most talked-about posts this year discussed how love of travel starts at home, that the curiosity you foster in your own neighborhood is the same curiosity that will propel you to explore far away.
(Like when I discovered this place, Yates Mill, this year — just minutes from a place I’ve lived in for almost five years.)
Exploration as a way of life, not just a switch you turn on when you go abroad, has always been important to me, but I find myself appreciating it more these days. The freedom and the privilege to explore is something I’m very thankful for.
For all you traveers out there, or those who just have a great sense of adventure, may the desire and the ability to explore never leave you.
What about you? What did you learn from your travels this year? Tell me in the comments!
This is day 1 in the 12 Days of Travel on The Globe Turner. Stop by tomorrow for day 2 of #12DaysofTravel, a series of travel memories from 2015. There will be a post every day ’til Christmas!