Monday, January 2, 2012

A Healthy Addiction

You could Google “reasons to travel” and I imagine you would come up with 452 different reasons.  Traveling is good for you.  You might get something completely different out of traveling than your friends, but at the end of the day it is still all positive.  I’ll be the first to admit that routine is not always a bad thing.  Waking up everyday and seeing the same things, talking to the same people, and living the same life will continually get you – what you have always got. 

When I was a teenager I signed up for a missions trip to Mexico.  Our main goal for this trip was to serve in anyway possible – odd jobs, construction, lending an ear, whatever they needed. Growing up in Southern California, I was your typical American boy.  Grew up in a cookie cutter neighborhood.  Had an older brother who taught me about sports, girls, and life.  Had an older sister who kept me in line.  Had a younger sister who I kept in line? Had two awesome parents.  Had tons of cool friends.  Loved to play video games.  Drank too much soda. Loved sports.  Hated math and loved PE. Never spent my weekends indoors. You get the point.  Mexico was probably the easiest “foreign” country to go to.  It was about four hours (depending on traffic) to the border.  I didn’t know what to expect, and being so young my mind was pretty open to anything.  I had figured that we were going to go down there, have some fun, and help some people.  When I got back from that trip I almost felt guilty.  I felt like selling all my things, never buying a brand name shoe again, and saying thank you to my Mom and Dad for always putting food on the table at mealtime.  The people I met down there had a bigger smile on their face with half the amount of material things, than most people did where I grew up.  I was changed. I was shocked. I was hooked. 

This typical boy turned into a busy boy.  The word travel now came in the form of work as opposed to play.  College baseball and baseball as a profession allowed me to travel, a lot.   Good thing for me is that even while you are working you can still play!  Until recently, my travels kept me in the United States.  For those who think that different culture can only be found in places outside of your country you should go spend an hour on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, eat at the Blue Plate Cafe in Memphis, see a show at The Stage In Nashville, or take a drive down the streets of Anchorage.  If time, money, or fear of flying is limiting you to staying in the States, do not worry there is still a lot to see!

I owe a lot of my travel addiction to my Brother in law.  He was a missionary kid and grew up in Taiwan.  If there’s guy that knows travel its him.  You can even tell he’s traveled a lot just because of his personality and how he makes choices in life.  It’s truly amazing what travel can do to a person.  I was still a little skeptical about traveling outside of the States mainly because I thought I was going to have to do it alone.  I can remember sitting at the computer that day and him being like dude, just click yes and go for it.  My first trip was to Costa Rica. I actually convinced a buddy to come with me and we had a blast.  Now all I look forward to is my next fix.

So that is my pitch. Now here are some practical notes to keep in mind while traveling.

Plan – Dates, money, people.  All of these are really important.  While spontaneous travel can be rewarding too, practicality is important too.  Coming up with a budget to work with will make the trip less stressful and maximize fun! 

Likeminded travelers – Just for safety and practical reason, going on trips with people is always smart.  It’s important thought to pick people that have likeminded people.  You are going to be in each other’s lives twenty-four hours a day.  If you like to site see but travel buddy likes to sleep in – conflict might ensue. 

Keep an open mind – Keep in mind that the new place you are going will have things that you are not used to.  Architecture will be different.  People will look different. Food will be different.  Different animals might roam the streets. Traditions, culture, language – all different. 

Make a choice – traveling can be a little overwhelming sometimes.  You have hundreds of places to go, and hundreds of more places to go once you get to where you are going!  When you feel stressed, just make a choice – flip a coin.  Once you experience what your choice produced – use that information and make an even better choice next time!

So that’s my list of five things you can do.  Perfect way to start out the New Year, right? Now go plan a trip!