In the spirit of Thanksgiving I decided to share 10 surprising reasons I am thankful for travel. For my close friends and family, not all of these reasons will be surprising. But, for most of my readers and social media I am sharing things about myself that I haven’t before. I am stepping away from my travel guides for a minute to let you in on what drives me to travel around the world. Some may call me travel obsessed but in this post I explain how travel has saved my life in many ways and will forever be a constant in it.
1. When life gives you lemons, Travel (get it? plus I am not a fan of lemonade:-)) I dreamt of two things for my life: 1. To become a doctor and 2. To have a husband and lots of babies. At the age of 25 I graduated from medical school and became Dr.White. I went on to my Pediatric Residency at Georgetown University Hospital. By the time I completed my pediatric residency I was ready to move on to the second goal. I dated someone for 7 years I assumed I would marry and have children with. Instead, that relationship ended after our residencies. As the years went by, I remained single. I traveled to fill up this empty space. My friends were getting married and starting their families. These friends would say to me “You are so lucky to be able to travel so much”. The irony is that I felt they were the lucky ones. I would have given up hopping on a plane if it meant having a husband, children and a home of my own. They had no idea that I was thankful for travel for keeping me afloat during this time.
Travel became even more important to me after a very tough year in which my Mother passed away from breast cancer, I lost my job, had a sudden breakup and made plans to move to a new city. Feeling as if I was falling apart, I set out on my first solo trip. I wrote about my “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure to Northern California here. It was instrumental in me gaining back my mental and emotional health. It proved to me that I was much stronger that I gave myself credit for. The silver lining to this part of my story is that I did move to a new city, met and married a wonderful man.
2. Travel is a connection to my Mother. I have written about my Mother being my travel inspiration. She traveled extensively all over the world. When I visit places that she loved, I feel as if she is looking down and clapping her hands. In my mind I am saying “Mommy I made it”. When I visit places that she hoped to get to but didn’t, I say “Mommy we made it”. I feel as if I have brought her along with me. I am extremely thankful for travel since it has kept this connection going month after month and year after year.
3. Travel is also a way to connect with friends & family. I love traveling solo, with my husband, with friends and with family. I am known for planning girl getaways like the upcoming O magazine cruise on Holland America. I also organize trips with family members to celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. I have also shared my love of travel and culture with my nieces. We go to NYC on a regular basis and last year visited Boston & Martha’s Vineyard.
You can easily look up and realize it has been years since you have seen a loved one or a close friend. I try not to let that happen. In addition, I usually decide on which medical conferences to attend based on the destination and connecting with my colleagues. I also look forward to travel conferences to reconnect with fellow bloggers. In some ways social media makes you feel as if you are connected to friends and family which is great. But, I am thankful for travel for bringing us together in person and reconnecting in a more intimate way.
4. Travel gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I am a doer. If I set my mind to something and if it is in my control, I make it happen. I love the path and the process from deciding to go on a trip, researching the destination, building an itinerary, booking flights, hotels and tours. To finally see months of planning come together gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Of course things do not always go as planned. But, I learn from my mistakes for the next trip. I am thankful for travel for allowing me to live out my OCD tendencies 🙂
5. Travel gives me something to look forward to. I have an amazing life and I am grateful for it. But, it is hectic and stressful. Knowing I have a trip coming up and a break from reality definitely keeps me going. It pushes me through the stress and fatigue. It motivates me to get through tough nights at work knowing I need the money for such trip lol When I am on vacation I am not thinking about work, bills, blogging deadlines, dieting or exercising. I do try to walk as much as possible to work off all the good food & drinks.
6. Travel gives me quality time with my husband. My husband and I have busy careers and are known for multitasking. He works long daytime and weekend hours and I work long nighttime, weekend and holiday hours. Add in taking care of relatives, visiting loved ones, running a blogging business and attending events, it does not leave much time just for us. We have tried to schedule regular date nights, but we are usually too tired. We end up ordering food and relaxing on the sofa. It’s a struggle just to stay awake and watch a movie. Going on vacation gives us time to focus on each other. Its hours and hours of one on one time. I also enjoy the adventure of exploring new places with him. I wrote about the benefits of traveling with my husband in this post.
7. Travel fuels my passion for history. I recall my Mother talking about how exciting it was to see things in person that she had read and learned about in school. She could answer any history question on Jeopardy. I kept encouraging her to go on the show and win some money but that never happened (lol). Once I started visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I understood what she meant. One of my favorite visits was to the city of Pompeii in Southern Italy. You will notice most of my blog posts have historical information, even my recent blog posts about Long Island New York. Once I started researching Long Island, I learned that the novel The Great Gatsby was set in NYC and Long Island. I also learned that the first polo club in the U.S.A was founded in Long Island. My blog post on eating & drinking in Brussels Belgium includes the history of beer, chocolate and waffles in Brussels and Belgium.
8. Travel makes me feel adventurous. I am thankful for travel for pushing me out of my comfort zone. I am usually very cautious but when I am on vacation I am filled with adrenaline. I have done rock climbing and zip-lining on cruise ships, parasailing, horseback riding, and a hot air balloon ride. Recently while visiting Labadee Haiti I did the longest over water zip-line. No-one else in my family was willing to do it! I wrote about some of my travel adventures here.
9. Travel breeds Tolerance. This is something I strongly believe in. I mention it often in my blog and social media posts. The hate and fear that people exhibit towards each other is often fear of the unknown. It comes from feeling uncomfortable around people that do not look like you, talk like you or have the same beliefs as you. But what if you actually met these people, had a dialogue with them, learned about their culture, tasted their food? Wouldn’t you be more tolerant of their customs and cultures? I know this has been true for me. The more I travel and learn about the world, the more respectful and understanding I am of others.
10. Travel creates memories that last a lifetime. This one is not so surprising. I love looking back at pictures and videos of trips I have taken with loved ones. I cherish all of them especially memories with those that are no longer here with me.
I cannot end this post without saying that travel is a privilege. I am thankful for the ability to travel. When I was growing up in Jamaica, I recall schoolmates being in awe that I flew back and forth to America. Many of my countrymen have not had the chance to leave the island. During my visit to Cuba in 2016 I was also reminded of this. Although they had the desire to travel, the locals we met had never left Cuba. They were not granted passports by the government. In one of many Black History Month posts I discussed “The Negro Motorist Green Book”. Black Americans faced difficulties and dangers while traveling due to Jim Crow laws. Because of all of this, I never take traveling for granted. I am thankful for every trip I take.
Are you thankful for travel? If so, why? How has travel changed your life? Thank you for reading this post and Happy Thanksgiving!