Over the last 200 years, there have been a plethora of monumental events... world wars, political upheavals, famine, mass exoduses, etc. and yet families still have petrified roots in one particular region of a country. So, there's always a bit of jealousy when friends travel to Europe to visit family. Me on the other hand, I look at the globe without boundaries. I guess this could be viewed as sad in a sense, but enlightening at the same time.
As a result, when it comes to planning vacations, destination anywhere is my rule.
I've had the good fortune of trekking to some wonderful places over the last decade. Winter vacations always have a skiing orientation while summer travel is couple related with lots of sightseeing.
Everywhere from Maine to California and Ireland to Switzerland have made the agenda. It's always gratifying to start the process every year... select, plan, execute and cross the destination off the list upon returning.
Mark Twain once said...
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
I wholeheartedly agree.
I'm non-discriminate when it comes to traveling, exploring or sailing away. There are so many places to see in this beautiful world of ours, where you go is essentially irrelevant.
Growing up as an only child, I had plenty of boyhood dreams. They usually involved becoming a professional athlete in some capacity, but the realistic ones were focused on traveling to exotic locations.
My parents had Scottish/Canadian/German/Irish ancestry but no specific region(s) abroad to call home. As such, I consider myself a mixed bag of ethnicity with an American bias.
Every destination has been unique and light years apart in visual aesthetics & historical relevance and yet all have been equally as memorable. The small fishing villages of Maine are classic New England and offer world class charm. Greece, on the other hand, is so rich in history, it's hard to wrap your head around 2,000 years of civilization.
Plenty of friends have a home field bias when it comes to traveling and prefer to stay in familiar surroundings. I guess our country is so big & diverse, they don't feel the urge to travel outside our borders? Or, maybe anything before 1776 is irrelevant? Although I'll never know for sure... and will never impose my views on them... I do think they're missing out on a meaningful element of life.
In my experience(s), I've come to the conclusion, international travel offers an astonishing path to self-discovery. Not only is it good for the soul, It's truly enlightening & educational on many levels. Everything from culture, food, language and even politics (especially these days) comes into play and challenges your core beliefs. Many will remember the self help books of the '80's discussing getting outside your comfort zone to allow for personal growth. Most of these books never directly mentioned travel; however, I think it's fair to say the indirect benefits of globe trotting meet this criteria.
So, you might be asking, "What have I learned or discovered in my journeys?" Several things would be the correct answer. However, at the top of the list is NOT knowing a second language. Every time I go to Europe, I'm quickly reminded of this fact. I understand Europe has numerous countries next to one another with different languages. Simply based on geography, you're bound to learn one, if not two, purely by osmosis. If NY, NJ, CT and MA were different countries with unique languages, I would probably be fluent in several languages as well.
Years ago... and for some unknown reason... I opted to take French instead of Spanish classes in high school. What a dummy. To this day, I scratch my head at this decision. Not only did I grow up in an area of New York with a Latino influence, I never had a chance to use my French and it rapidly disappeared. To make matters worse, I was well aware of Spanish becoming the dominant language in the world.
I'm not sure if I was ignorant at the time, but a dunce hat seems appropriate in hindsight.
Lastly... I hope to continue my travels as it broadens my outlook on life & humanity. Who knows, I may even finally learn a second language as well.