Friday, April 1, 2011

Why We Travel

  I am constantly amazed at the number of people who genuinely do not understand why we travel and/or choose the places we would like to visit.  I realize everyone is different and not everyone likes to be outside of their comfort zone but it's still difficult to comprehend. 
  I have always loved to travel.  As a kid, we would go on vacations and I couldn't wait to see where we ended up.  We chose mostly family friendly spots like Disney World or Gatlinburg, TN and of course, because we're the Bennetts, it was also an adventure.  As a result of that, I knew never to expect something to go as planned or as you may have imagined it because it never does.  Ever. 
  That definitely had a bearing on me during college too.  Huntsville girl moves to NYC?  Of course!  The idea never scared me because I knew it would be an adventure and I knew I could figure it out.  Deciding to move to TN after a year there?  Of course!  Moving to Dallas and knowing maybe 3 people there?  Of course!  The bottom line is that because we traveled as children, because we were exposed to different parts of the country and came across different kinds of cultures, I was never afraid to just go somewhere. 
   So when I met my now husband 4 years ago and 3 months into dating, he asks if I can run off to Canada for a quick weekend trip, I knew I had found my Mr. Right.  Not because he was taking me to Canada but because he enjoyed the adventure as much as I did.
  It's very easy to get caught up in life here, in Texas, and simply have no time to travel.  That's why we make such an effort earn miles, points and save money for some sort of trip in the future.  We seek adventure, we live for adventure and truly enjoy the feeling of being somewhere and having to figure out how to get back to our hotel at times when no one around us speaks our language.  It's at those times you realize how compassionate people are, how friendly people are and you learn so much about yourself as well.
  When people ask us why we're traveling for an entire month, our first reaction is "why not?!"  While we do laugh a bit as we say it, we truly mean it.  Why not?  You get one shot at this crazy thing we call life and I want to ride this bike until the wheels fall off.  (or until Curtis falls off of the bike and we end up in a hospital in rural Italy)
  This all leads me to answer my original question/thought.  Why do we travel.  We do so because it makes us better people.  I am a more compassionate person than I used to be and my heart hurts a bit more when things like earthquakes or cyclones hit parts of the world.  It's more than a news story to me now.
  I am a MUCH more tolerant person.  Small town Texas isn't the most tolerant place in the world :) (I say that with love) and when you're in a place where YOU are the outcast, it's truly incredible how much that changes you in an instant.  The tolerance also comes from just simply learning why people do the things they do.  I never understood why Chinese people stood so close to me before or were extremely pushy and argued about prices of goods until I went to China.  It all made sense at that point.  They don't have personal space there because there isn't room, they're pushy because no one lines up for things and they argue because they are a culture that barters for items.  As a result, it doesn't bother me anymore.
  I am a stronger woman now.  I am so very fortunate to live in a place where women have a voice and I use mine now much more than before (if you can believe it) because I don't want to take it for granted.  I embrace my femininity because I see how many other places don't allow women to do such a thing.  While I am respectful of all cultures, it really does remind me, with each new country, how very blessed I am here.
  And lastly, it makes me a better me.  I know who I am and I know what I want.  It's taken a few years to get here but I can honestly say that I know what I want out of my life, I know who I want to share that with and where I want to go.  I don't think I would be so determined, so driven and so confident in who I was as a person if it weren't for traveling.  It reaffirms things I may have thought I was in the past.  Can I really read a map in Greek?  Yep.  Will I actually try something when the person giving it to me just smiles and nods and I have no idea what it is?  Yep.  Can I really pee in a squatty toilet?  Yep.  Can I ride in a car with my brother and sister and parents through the mountains of TN, survive the worst hail storm of my life, listen to sis scream when she finds out we took the scenic route through Kentucky and are back in TN and live to laugh about the story to this day?  Yep! 
  While I know it's not easy to see the world, it's definitely something I want to do.  All of it.  It ain't cheap and that's why we have figured out unique and fun ways to travel frugally so it's not a once-every-10-years sort of thing.  Travel can be very affordable if you're willing to do a little bit of research and play the miles game!  And yes, the world is full of crazy people and places may seem unsafe right now but that shouldn't stop anyone from living their life.  An earthquake can happen anywhere, in LA, Arkansas, etc. so we're not immune here in the US.  The way I look at it is that if it's my time to go, I can't change that so I'm going to embrace every moment as if it were my last.

   I thank my family for instilling the travel bug in me when I was younger and for making me the strong, stubborn woman I am today.  I thank Curtis for sparking my interest once again for travel and for suggesting we go to places like China and Malaysia, places I may not have gone to so quickly on my own.  And thanks to whoever is reading this because it's a long post. 

  It's a scary world out there but upon closer look, it isn't so bad.  :)

Us in Istanbul

Delicious dumplings on the streets of Beijing!

Curtis in St. Croix with the beer drinking pig!

Us at the top of St. Mark's Square in Venice
Red Beach in Santorini the morning after we were engaged!


  1. Well, I might have to live vicariously through you, but I don't mind because your pictures are so good! :)

  2. No need to live vicariously! It's like crazy couponing with travel. :) Have fun in Paris and take lots of pics! And eats lots of pastries!

  3. Frances,
    I really enjoyed this post! I am going to try to learn some of this crazy travel couponing you speak of :)

  4. I absolutely love this post. Thanks for sharing your insight and for the pics. I definitely live vicariously through you guys, but hopefully, with your tips, our planned family trip to Italy next year will be a reality! Yes, I want to take a 4 year old and a 1 year old to Italy just so they can experience some of that travel goodness! :)