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Why I Travel

Why I travel…..

by Kate Dernocoeur, guest blogger

First, let me distinguish between those two cousins, “traveler” and “tourist.” A tourist tends to have an established agenda and itinerary, usually surrounding the activities of “seeing the sights.” A traveler is a different breed, someone who sets out willing—eager even—just to see what happens. There is a saying that while a tourist is happy to get home safe and sound, a traveler doesn’t feel a trip was really worthy unless he or she comes home with a few scars.


For me, traveling has to do with a pounding curiosity about what’s out there, and a desire to know myself more deeply by challenging myself to explore different situations. In the process of traveling, I have learned about the world, yes, but I have also learned a lot about myself.


Through traveling, I believe I have become much more patient, and flexible, and tolerant, because there have been many times while traveling that these traits win the day. If I am walking ten miles, I have to be patient with the process of one step at a time. If I find one way blocked, I have to be flexible in adapting to another way.

If I am victim of the aviation industry’s increasing poor form, I have to be tolerant. The downsides of traveling—especially where I do not have a local guide or someone to assist with language barriers—can be daunting. When I am exhausted, or jet-lagged, or maybe disappointed by the way things are going, I cannot retreat to my couch with a Snickers bar to cheer me up. All I can to is forge ahead. Such times, I believe, exemplify the essence of traveling. I have to find the inner strength to proceed.


And the rewards of doing so are like precious jewels! When I prevail over a difficult situation, it shows me I am worthy of my journey. When I discover a place without knowing about it ahead of time, I can taste a little of what long-ago explorers felt historically. When I manage to do something as simple as find brown wrapping paper in a Tokyo paper-goods shop after 45 minutes of pantomime, everyone is joyous, and a memory is made.


I travel because I am inexorably drawn, the way a hungry boy is to the smell of grilling steaks, to find out what’s around the next turn in the road. The opportunities my travels have given me also yield lifelong, like-minded friends—not least among them, my good friend, Margaret Idema Cheff.


And when I come home, I am honored when someone wishes to hear about my latest journey. I have opportunities to travel that many people do not, and so I always bear them in mind, and bring home stories so that they, too, can know of the wider world. And I know it won’t be long before my terminal case of wanderlust will begin, yet again, to tickle me from the inside.


Kate, a wonderful friend and great traveler, is currently on her way to Wyoming and new adventures there.  Look for more of her blog posts  on

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Jul 24, 2011 Reply

    Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for your contribution to  I really appreciate that I sent off the question, “Why do you travel?”  thinking I’d get a quote or two from you and what came back was a great blog post on the topic.  Wonderful. I hope our readers will enjoy and add their thoughts about their journeys.  What I would add is fact that traveling often gives me new perspectives on my life at home–what’s important and what’s not.  This is often hard to see when wrapped up in day to day living.  Take care and hope to hear from you soon, sjs 

  2. posted by
    Jul 26, 2011 Reply

    Kate, I love hearing your stories.  Kristin and I may be trapped for the next two years with 3 kiddos under 4 so please keep traveling and writing! -brt

  3. posted by
    Grateful for Travel | DesignDestinations
    Nov 25, 2013 Reply

    […] For Kate Dernocoeur’s views on the Gifts of Travel, click here.      Then, do add your own in the comment section below. Norway, Paris, Vietnam […]

  4. posted by
    Why I Travel! | DesignDestinations
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    […] For Kate’s explanation of her need to travel, click here. […]

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