Why You Should Start Traveling


Shea Duplechain

6/30/20235 min read

I was on winter break, just after my first semester of college. It was an awful semester, I hated school, and unbeknownst to me at the time, was beginning to experience what I would later realize was depression. I met up to eat with some friends from back home. It was a typical meeting of the minds that you would expect from a group of eighteen year old boys, just with a pinch of pretentiousness now all fresh off a semester of intro level college courses. At one point, one of the guys mentioned to me that they were thinking about doing a road trip that summer. This passive thought, an idea they came up late one night without any true intention, suddenly ignited my brain as if it had been soaking in gasoline for my entire life. I often think back to this moment a lot. It was a pivotal moment in my young life, perhaps the most pivotal thus far. That one moment completely derailed the trajectory of my life, probably even saved it.

That next semester was a blur. I became obsessed with the idea of going on this road trip. My endless consumption of any travel content that I could find eventually led me to discovering photography and film. If I was going to go on a trip, I needed to document it somehow. I got my first camera shortly after, and began diving in on all things cameras. Not long after, I changed my major from econ (the source of my agony) to film. Summer arrived; the dream of a road trip was on shaky legs. What started out as six or seven of us dwindled to three, and even still the possibility looked grim. I had never been more determined about something in my life. Maybe it was the two semesters of what was now surely depression, months of business classes that gave me the equivalent of a lobotomy. Maybe it was the subconscious feeling that this could be the only bright spot in what looked to be three more agonizing years of what I just experienced. I mapped out the trip. A list of destinations with the ideal route and mileage from one destination to the next. It was to be a total of twenty-one days, quite ambitious for three boys with no travel experience. I presented this to the two remaining friends that were still interested. We set a date. It was to be in July of that year, after my summer class was complete; keeping me from falling under the mandatory credit hours due to failing a few classes.

I remember the first time I saw the Grand Tetons. It was my first time seeing mountains, the beautiful snow capped peaks perfectly aligned. They stood there towering over the vast green pastures, webbed with streams cutting through the landscape. As the sun begins to set, the sky turns to a beautiful purple and not long after the milky way begins to appear above. There are specific moments in life you can always call back on and see them again. I know that seeing a mountain for the first time doesn't seem like it would fit in with this category of memories, but in any case; it has had a lasting impact on me. What was a slow burning pile of embers, became ignited in a gulf of flames as my sense for adventure and passion for traveling began to rearrange my being. From then on, my life has been a series of trips and planning of new trips. The main reason that I even started this blog and am writing this very article, is so that I can relive my travels and keep traveling at the center of my life even when I'm not physically traveling. It has become a drug that I constantly crave, for better or for worse.

So what about you? It should be said that you don’t need to be experiencing depression or any other type of existential feeling to start traveling. Traveling provides one with plenty of other feelings and reasons to explore one's surroundings than just a boost of stimulation. When you think about what the core of traveling entails, it's often to experience the life of others in that location. Whether it's experiencing the life of people in the present day through their current culture, lifestyles, and surroundings, or experiencing what people's life was like hundreds or thousands of years ago through museums or other historical sites; no matter the case, the human experience is always at the heart of traveling. In my own experience, traveling has opened my mind up to new perspectives and cultures. We can’t really have a proper understanding of a place or people until we experience them for ourselves. Doing this helps us become more empathetic and understanding of one another through an exchange of experiences.

Although traveling is about the human experience (to me atleast), you don’t need to fly to Italy (you should if you get the chance) to get a grasp of what that may be. We tend to associate traveling with lavish destinations, but that is not always an attainable or sustainable travel mentality. Traveling takes on many forms, and can be adapted to anyone's vision or lifestyle. One of my favorite types of trips is a trip out to nature. In our everyday life, nature has begun to fade out more and more. Whether it be the emergence of the digital age, the development of vast cities with less and less green spaces, or the impending and current effects of climate change; we are slowly losing our sense of connection to nature. Some of my favorite travel experiences have been when I was out in nature embracing the elements. It is a refreshing feeling to reacclimate oneself with the freshness of the Earth. The crisp air, sounds of nature, and vibrance of life all help to ground the soul. Escaping the rapids of everyday life is necessary to keep a healthy mind. And to be clear, you don't need to travel out to Patagonia to experience all that nature has to offer. A nearby forest, lake, meadow; even parks are a suitable option, is all one needs to experience the peaceful stillness of nature. Allowing yourself to dissolve into nature for once, instead of the other way around, is all that is necessary to experience a zen-like oasis we so often take for granted.

If someone opens themselves to it, traveling has the ability to teach us valuable lessons. Whether it be having a better understanding of someone else or culture, or discovering more within yourself; travel is a teacher that silently guides us. It's something humans have done for as long as we have existed, and will continue to do for as long as we exist. There is no better feeling in the world than dropping yourself into another country across the globe. Eating a croissant with the Eiffel Tower in view, sipping wine next to the Grand Canal in Venice, walking by structures that have witnessed thousands of years of history. I can’t elaborate enough on how impactful travel has been on my life, and I truly believe that it has the ability to change yours as well if it hasn’t already. Taking the leap and immersing yourself into another part of the world is something you will never regret and forget. Safe travels!