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Why I Travel!

_DSC7954 For a variety of reasons I haven’t traveled much in the last six months.  Mostly my hand has been on the cancel button.    Family issues and health problems have made staying home more important.

 I’ve missed it.  I’ve really missed hitting the road, meandering the random roads, visiting museums, poking my head into little shops, eating in places where I can’t recognize the names on the menu or where there is no menu.

A recent question at a book club made me ponder this question: why do I love to travel? Why do I miss it so?    The question we discussed as we sat at  big dining table enjoying a holiday dinner was, “What was your childhood dream and are you living it?”


Hah! Didn’t t take me long to come up with an answer.  While my childhood was idyllic in many ways, my dream was to “get out of the small town I grew up in.”  As I thought about that almost out of control outburst, I thought?  Hmmmm.  Was Spring Lake so bad?  No, of course not. It was pretty good actually.

But as I child and as now,  I wanted to see the world that existed beyond the one I grew up in— a town with 4,000 people, most of whom were totally happy with Friday night bowling and Sunday church socials.

I wanted more.


 Travel to me is much more than “getting away.”  It’s really more about the “going to” and that’s an important point.  Nothing is wrong with “getting away” from the stresses and routines of our lives, whether it is a trip to a new museum in a neighboring town or one of those around the world in a private jet trips described in pamphlets I drool over.





But I love and crave the “going to.”  The seeing and experiencing lands and cultures very different than my own. Trying to understand the values and dreams  that drive the people to do what they do.    What gives them pleasure? Joy? Peace? Happiness?  What are their struggles?   Why is the architecture the way it is? What kind of art do they make?


_DSC7024 Faces:PlacesIndia.027

 I believe the statement that a mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.  I’m invigorated by the stretching and the confidence that comes with the new experiences.

Faces:PlacesIndia.027Faces:PlacesIndia.027I love the moments of awe, of magic like seeing a polar bear lumber over across the ice to check out the boat we are on in the Arctic Circle or the fabulous reflections of mountains in the Norwegian fjords.






 I’m forever changed by meeting the woman who regularly and for all her life blackens her teeth with a mixture of beetle juice and other materials found in the hills and forests of her North Vietnamese home.



 The old cars in Cuba and the tourists in Paris.  Traveling makes my world bigger and smaller at the same time.



_DSC9144The gorgeous coast line of Croatia.  The fortified churches of Romania. Gorgeous Cinque Terre in Italy.  I want to see it all and when I cross one item off the bucket list three more appear.




 A friend of mine says she likes to travel because she’s interested in the history of places and how they came to be.  And others find travel to be healing.  One only needs to read books like “Eat, Love and Pray” or “Wild” to experience this process.   I recently read a book about a woman’s month long trek on the Camino de Santiago to understand how getting away can fix the broken parts. (“Walking Home: a Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed” by Sonia Choquette).

Challenging all the senses is another pure pleasure. India immediately comes to mind.  It was almost too much some days. I’m eager to learn about ancient religions that are just as important and influential as the ones practiced by people in my home town.





I’m not alone.  From when Marco Polo took off to see the world and found the routes to buy spice or when Columbus just had to see what was at the end of the ocean, people have ventured into the unknown.  Right now hundreds add to lists to go into Space when that frontier opens up.  It will. Maybe not in my life time, but my grand daughter may go out into the universe some time and say, “Nana would have loved this.”

And she’s right.


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

or for The Delights of Traveling with a two year old, click here. 

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
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    Susan, I think this is my absolutely all time favorite DesignDestinations blog. You have summed up beautifully what makes you yearn to get out there and see new places. I haven’t really thought about it much for myself but I believe you’ve given me pause to think about why I, too, enjoy traveling so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, AND your photos, of course.

  2. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    What a heartfelt summary of yearnings fulfilled.
    As I was reading, I was thinking the same thing that is stated by Margaret….this may be my favorite blog post. It really gets at the power of such travel experiences and the ways they can satisfy our being on the most profound existential levels.

  3. posted by
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    Susan, your well expessed and beautifully illustrated blog makes me pause and ponder!?!

  4. posted by
    Donna Duff
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    This article has it all, –words that make me think and gorgeous pictures that compliment.

  5. posted by
    ann cabezas creed
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    Wonderful and heart felt. Every word has a profound meaning and insight into how travel broadens our horizons.
    Hope you will be able to travel soon!

  6. posted by
    Barbara Rohwer
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    Susan, you are such a terrific writer and fabulous photographer! Keep it up! Milt and I will to explore as long as we are able. But know that many of the places that you and Jack have traveled to, are not on our list so “Design Destinations” allows the chance to travel vicariously. Thank you!

  7. posted by
    Susan Garratt
    Feb 11, 2015 Reply

    Hi Susan,

    You mentioned health and family issues being responsible for your not traveling recently.
    I hope that nothing too serious is involved!!!

    Justin’s New Orleans map was the perfect gift for our son-in-law … took him all of three seconds to locate his home, high school etc. My ineptitude with this technology delayed my payment to Justin but hopefully it made last year’s books.

    Thanks for the contact. Sally & I plan to go skiing in the next few weeks. No big travel jaunts for me … I am very content with family visits tho’ a family wedding anywhere in the world would grab my attention.

    My very best to you both. Take care!!!


  8. posted by
    Judy Bereza
    Feb 12, 2015 Reply

    Susan, you have been twice blessed. First is your insatiable desire
    to reach out to all the world offers, and then your talent to record it.
    Oh yes, and one more – curiosity – one of life’s greatest gifts!
    Thank you for sharing – when your blog appears in my in box,
    it always brightens my day! This one was truly special!

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