A few weeks ago, my pal John Cloonan wrote a nice post about travel. It wasn’t about far-flung, exotic adventures but the value of what can be discovered nearer to home. I was shocked to learn his young colleagues didn’t know what lay outside of their small urban-Atlanta bubble.
International travel has its benefits and thrills, no doubt about that. As a blogger in the adventure travel niche I spend a lot of time in contact with travelers who have lived as nomads, overlanded around the world, and have had “epic” adventures by today’s social-media standards. However, what I do is small beans compared to all that. Being a small fish in a big pond doesn’t bother me, though. I do what I can, when I can, and on my terms. That’s all any of us can do, right?
The point is, I’m doing it. And it doesn’t take epic, travel-magazine worthy adventures to bust you out of your silo. Just embracing the unfamiliar is enough. And more diversity exists within a half-day’s drive of wherever you are than you might imagine. If you open your eyes. Leave judgment and expectation at home. Explore.
It’s why I continue to explore the intricacies of the area surrounding my home base. It’s accessible in short stints and on short notice. Oftentimes, I can travel inexpensively. It ties me to this area that is my home in a bigger way because I can dig deeper. I always find something new and surprising in every direction.
Get out there
You know I’m not going to simply wave the travel banner and send you on your way if you’ve followed me for any length of time. I’m going to give you a kick in the ass as I shove you out the door. You live in a world of incredible technology. Use it. If just wandering out of the door with no idea where you’re going isn’t your style, find one of the gazillion apps that can help you pick a destination. If that’s a roadside guide that takes you to the world’s biggest ball of twine and you find other cool stuff along the way, so be it.
Try geocaching, go catch Pokemon, seek out a festival in a small town—whatever it takes to excite you and give you a goal. Just get out the fucking door somewhere beyond your daily bubble. Do something new. Go someplace new. One of my favorite new rules of thumb is the 50 miles rule. It’s brilliant. You’ll be surprised how many times you say to yourself “I had no idea this was here!” once you get out there and open your eyes.
Step out of the pre-conceived notions that broadening your life experience can only happen in seductive far-flung locales. Resist the illusion that you’ve experienced something or know what a place is about because you’ve seen Instagrams about it. Stop making excuses. Pushing the edges of your comfort zone, even little by little, has tremendous value. There are cool places within reach on a weekend. Adventure is out your back door.
Building a better world
Sometimes what you see will be dismaying. Most of the time it’s delightful. It’s always educational. You’ll notice the differences from what you’re familiar with. Above all, you’ll also notice how much is the same about the basic human condition. That’s what creates understanding and kindness in the world. And don’t we need that now more than ever?
So I hope you’ll forgive me for including this overused quote from Mark Twain. It’s typically truncated to the first portion of the first sentence but it’s the second line I find more compelling.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
Now get out there and adventure on, friends! I’m waiting to hear what you discover.