Today someone said to me, “You travel a lot, don’t you?”
“Well,” I responded, “it all depends on how you define ‘a lot’.”
You see, I am a teacher. I get a lot of holidays, as teachers in most parts of the world do. It’s true: I travel much more than I did when I was a teacher in Canada. Then again, I’m also earning a lot more than I did when I was a teacher in Canada. And, a quick weekend away to something beachy and exotic in Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia costs me the same amount here as would a weekend trip from Calgary to Edmonton, once you factor in hotels, etc. Without meaning any offence to Edmontonians… it’s a bit more exciting to get away for the weekend to Bali than it is to Edmonton.
So… do I travel more than I did while living in Canada because I am earning more, or because there are more travel opportunities? A little of both, I reckon. (I reckon! Did you hear me say that? I have been working with Aussies for too long!)
Regardless of the reason, I know I am fortunate. But it’s also one of the reasons I chose this lifestyle. I knew that if I stayed in Calgary (or even Vancouver), even with the same number of holidays in the school calendar, I would not be seeing as much of the world. I would likely be choosing to travel to places like B.C., the USA, Mexico, and maybe the Caribbean or Western Europe for special trips on special occasions. And while all of those places are wonderful, I felt they would get “tired” after a while — at least for me. I need to be exposed to the exotic fairly regularly to feel like I’ve truly gotten away. I also love love love learning about and experiencing new cultures and societies, so visiting places that are too similar to my own culture doesn’t hold the same attraction to me.
But yes, I do have the opportunity to travel “a lot.” I mean, compared to my peers, I feel like I travel less often — I have co-workers and colleagues who travel far more often than I, jetting away for a weekend here and there at least once every fortnight, and exploring far-flung places like South Africa and Turkey on their longer holidays. I don’t go nearly that far on my travels, preferring to stay within the region or just return to my home country. So, compared to them, I feel like I don’t travel nearly enough! Hah. But I realize that compared to those outside education — namely those in corporate industry — I do have a lot of opportunity to travel.
I could go into a long diatribe about how important travel is to who I am, and how important I believe it is for any human being, and how I think every child should be forced to travel… but I’ll save those truths for another time. Tonight, I’ll just leave it at this:
Travel is good. It subconsciously expands me and nudges my mind open. It forces me to get outside my comfort zone and into someone else’s. Through travel, I’m better able to see more of who I am. It allows my self to be more clearly identified. Further, travel completely clarifies that my self-identity is mostly relative and very little of it is absolute. And this is okay, because the world is not absolute.
Travel helps me be me. And I’d like to think it helps others, too.