Today we are thrilled to bring you a guest post from one of Laurel’s longtime friends, Emily Heinrich. Emily describes herself as an “ordinary girl who loves a good adventure…. with a deep desire to visit places near and far.” You can read more from Emily on her blog Beautiful Fernweh and view some of her beautiful photography prints for sale here or here.
Today in our guest post, Emily shares four reasons you should travel the world:
#1 – History! So much history! In America, we think something from the Civil War is old. If it goes back to the Revolution, then it’s really, really old. And if it can date back to the pilgrims or the Native Americans before them we act as if it’s like, ancient history. But there’s so much fascinating, incredible history to be seen beyond our borders. The world is a vast place and there’s so much history to learn and explore. And traveling lets you see and experience that in a whole new way.
On my first trip to Europe, the first city I got to explore was Trier, Germany. I knew there were Roman ruins there but the impact of that didn’t hit me until I got there and saw it for myself. I was suddenly looking at things, not from the 1700’s or 1800’s, but buildings that dated from 300 AD and before. How incredible is it to look at something and know that people who lived close to 2,000 years ago built this and walked these same streets?! It’s inspiring to walk the same road that Caesar walked or to be in the palace that the Emperors of China used for centuries.
It also helps to take some part of history that can seem rather abstract and disconnected to you be real and meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to read about history. But that same history has a way of coming alive and impacting you more if you go to the places where those things took place. Reading about the concentration camps in World War II has a much deeper impact on me now that I’ve visited one. I’ve been there – I traced their footsteps in the camp – I saw where they lived and where they slaved and where they died. And now when I hear or read about those camps, I have a deeper understanding, a greater insight, and a tangible connection to what happened. In another way – let’s say you visit Paris and then read a novel that mentions Paris or an article about the French revolution – now instead of some fuzzy, probably half-true (if we’re honest :)) imaginings of a distant city, you have something real and concrete to refer back to. History comes alive and is much more interesting when you experience these places yourself.
#2 – It gets you out of your American mindset. As Americans, we are admittedly rather big on ourselves. We don’t pay much attention to other countries, we don’t study much of their histories, we think everyone speaks our language, and we tend to think the rest of the world should be just like us. But the world is so much bigger and more interesting than just our small corner of it. Traveling is a great way to discover that. It gets us outside our little self-focused world and helps us see the great diversity all around us. There’s nothing like being in a country whose culture is completely different than your own and whose language you can’t speak to help you see how vast and unique the world is. Step outside of your American comfort zone and explore other cultures and ways of living life. I know it’s not always easy, but it’s well worth the effort.
#3 – It gives you the chance to see and appreciate other cultures. Not only can you visit a culture different than your own, but travel can help you to appreciate other cultures as well. This can be both a hard and fascinating aspect of travel. It can be hard because we’re so used to doing things certain ways that we rather expect everyone to do it that way or that our way is the only correct way. But for most things in life, there is no one right way to do things. Traveling to different cultures, if we’re willing to be open, helps us to broaden our perspectives and gives us more grace for those who do things differently. So travel! But travel with an open mind. Don’t just balk at another culture but try to understand it. Why do they do things the way they do? What are the good aspects of their culture? It can be really easy to dismiss something different as wrong. Yet that mindset will lead to frustration and frustration doesn’t make for awesome vacations! So let yourself relax and look for the good in the diversity.
#4 – It helps you to find beauty and goodness all around you. This ties in closely with the last point. Appreciating other cultures leads you to find good and beautiful things all around you. For instance, in China, grandparents are very involved in their grandchild’s life. They can be almost like second parents. I think it’s a wonderful thing to have a close family bond and to have your grandparents impart their wisdom and legacy to you. In many places in Europe, people go grocery shopping every day or every couple days because they don’t have much storage space. So while that may sound like a lot more work to you, it also means they eat less processed food and more fresh food which makes for healthier eating habits. They also walk A LOT more then we suburbanites do because they actually live in the cities themselves. Even using public transportation, they still log much more walking time than most of us Americans. So they have a healthier, more active lifestyle that is really appealing to me. Obviously every culture has its positives and negatives, but travel helps you to see and appreciate the positives as you see it lived out in front of you.
And travel helps you to see the beauty in the world. Even if you’re not a photographer, I think most of us want to capture the places we’ve been and the beautiful things we’ve seen to bring back home and remember. And I think that idea of looking for the beauty and finding it in all kinds of ways can be easily carried over into our everyday lives. Seeing the beauty and good around us when we travel can help us to see the beauty and good that is around us when we’re at home too. All of life is an adventure and there is beauty to be discovered everywhere, whether that’s close by or far away.
So travel the world! Travel with an open mind. Explore new places and cultures. Try new food. Discover world history. See beauty everywhere. And have fun and make fabulous memories all along the way!
I’m Emily. I’m an ordinary girl who loves a good adventure. I have a deep desire to visit places near and far. I love finding beauty all around – whether in the grandiose vistas or the simple and ordinary. I enjoy discovering new places, cultures, and food while making wonderful memories along the way. I love music, books, photography, and Disney – basically, I enjoy creative, imaginative things that transport you to a different world or show you the beauty in your own world.
ONLINE STOREFRONTS: http://crated.com/beautifulfernweh.com and http://www.zazzle.com/beautifulfernweh