Why Travel

Teaching a Chinese schoolkid who’s boss

This post is written to promote the Meet, Plan, Go! conference in New Orleans where I’ll be speaking on October 18th.

Everyday, we carry with us innumerable assumptions. It took us a lifetime to weave this web of assumptions. This web supports every aspect of our lives. It defines how we view the people around us. It defines what is and isn’t appropriate to say. It defines how we should look and what we should buy. It defines how and where we live. It defines how we look at ourselves in relation to the world and our sense of cosmic significance (or lack thereof).

These assumptions tell us, “You can’t get around without a car!”  “You are very important.”  “You can’t let your kids run around naked in the street!”  “You live in the best country in the world.”  “You can’t eat that animal!”

Travel challenges these assumptions. All around the world, there are people living with an entirely different set of assumptions. When you spend time outside of the place where you developed your assumptions, sometimes you find that another set of assumptions work better than your own. Other times you determine that your assumptions work better. Most of the time, there is no better or worse, but you find that you’ve become pretty accustomed to your way of doing things.

Challenging your assumptions is valuable because it gives you the opportunity to improve your life. When you find that another practice or perspective is better, you can integrate it into your life. You can take away practical lessons, like learning that a rice cooker is an amazing kitchen appliance or strolling the neighborhood after dinner is a pleasant substitute for watching TV. The exposure to the profound differences yet fundamental similarities of life around the world is sure to add depth to your worldview. And when travel doesn’t improve your life or perspective, it at least makes you grateful for your way of life as never before.

Without travel, your way of life is one grand untested hypothesis. Sure, you can get through life just fine thinking that the world is flat, but getting to the truth of the matter creates the possibility for real insights that are unavailable with a false understanding. Putting your understanding of life to the test is the only way you can know whether your assumptions are true and valuable.

Now that I’ve made my case for why you should travel, tomorrow I’ll give my recommendations on how you should travel.

  • http://twitter.com/hopandjaunt Aly & John

    Well thought out and well written, couldn’t agree more!

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  • Anonymous

    Love it! Thanks for being a part of our event and inspiring people to get our there and see why rice cookers are awesome! And btw…they are awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/anne_elizabeth anne_elizabeth

    simply put but clearly well thought out. fantastic points. thank you for writing this.