Why I Believe in the Discipline of Travel

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.

―Terry Pratchett

I’m flying home today after spending a week in the Caribbean. It’s been a week full of life change — of new perspectives gained and old passions resurrected.

As I’m traveling today, waking up at 3am to drive two hours to the San Juan airport to drop a group of high schoolers off for their 8am flight, I’m wondering why I do this, why I travel at all.

What makes all this worth the hassle?

Why Travel
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

I don’t get to travel very often. When I can get away, I jump at the opportunity. That’s what brings me to Puerto Rico this week — and what’s brought me to Italy, Kenya, Taiwan, and so many other places.

It’s been a refreshing, uplifting time of personal and spiritual growth for me and has reminded me why I travel in the first place. Without the airplane ride, exotic setting and new types of food, I wouldn’t have grown.

This is why I believe in the discipline of travel. It does something to the soul that no other activity can touch. It stretches your mind and perspective in new and extraordinary ways. I travel for several reasons, but the main one is this:

I travel to remember that I’m not complete

There are areas in my life that need help. I still need to grow in my faith. I still need to be affirmed as a leader. I still need to be challenged as a man.

I tend to hit plateaus when I’m stuck in the same place for too long.

It could be an office job or the same old routine or just the plain, old rhythms of life.

But eventually, I get restless.

Travel disrupts my comfort

It makes me rely on God. It causes me to give up unhealthy obsessions.

When I know where my next meal is coming from or exactly what tomorrow will hold, I’m less dependent on forces outside myself.

And I don’t like that.

I don’t like being a person who doesn’t know how to trust. I don’t like believing the lie that life depends solely on me. I want to believe in something more.

I travel to remember that.

Travel reminds me of the instability of life

A change of place can do a lot to your spirit.

It can stir you to a deeper place of dependence, of reflection, of a need for something bigger than yourself. That’s why I travel — to grow.

Yes, I like to see different cultures and meet new people. I love getting to see live flamenco music or eat “stinky tofu.” But at the end of the day, what happens internally is so much more significant than what happens externally. Because what happens inside me stays with me.

I can bring transformation home — and then give it to someone else.

Why you should travel

I’ve had the privilege of seeing the lives of 30 young people changed this week. Their worldviews have been stretched, their comfort zones expanded, and their ideals tested.

Yeah, it was pretty fun.

This is why I continue travel. Yes, because it has changed me. But also because it can change others.

I hope you’ll consider taking a trip, if you’ve never done this kind of thing before. If you’re young, I hope you find a way to travel the world. It’s worth whatever sacrifices you may have to make.

Wherever you are in life and whatever you do, I hope you’ll find a way to remember that you are not complete.

Here are some other reasons to travel:

  • To get an education in global cultures
  • To learn from others
  • To be humbled
  • To see things you’d never see at home
  • To appreciate where you come from
  • To fall in love
  • To finally be understood
  • To be inspired (and inspire)
  • To learn to laugh at yourself
  • To resurrect dreams
  • To find a new way of doing an old thing

Why do you travel? Share in the comments.