Reflecting on Why We Love to Travel
Mike Schibel is the Founder of Travel With Meaning, a travel storytelling community, and hosts the Travel With Meaning Podcast and Travel Talk Events. He shares his thoughts on what travel means to him and to us all, especially in these uncertain times.
I had originally started hosting travel talk events to share the content of the conversations I gathered from my travels. What I quickly realized was it wasn’t about me, but all about the WE. It’s my belief that everyone has a travel story that has impacted their lives and careers. For the past few years, I have been interviewing extraordinary guests to have them share their stories to encourage, inspire and support travel to our community and beyond.
It’s ironic to think about travel when the world is at a standstill and no one is traveling, but it’s also the perfect time to reflect on past travel and think about its meaning. I’ve found myself looking at old travel pictures and have been able to pinpoint the major life shifts that have happened to me while on the road: the growth, lessons, failure, and victories that make up my journey. I’ve spoken to old friends I haven’t talked with in years and we’ve reminisced about travels together. From studying in London to being part of the biggest water fight in the world in Chiang Mai, Thailand, it feels good to connect with old friends and talk about something comforting that makes me smile in these unusual times.
My first meaningful trip was the summer of 1994, three days after graduating high school. I thought I knew so much…but why were my pants so baggy?! I dreamed of traveling the world, but couldn’t get any of my friends to join me. My mom booked me on a tour for three weeks to England, France, and Italy. I was so excited and so nervous.
I learned immediately that things don’t always go as planned. I unexpectedly arrived two days early with no tour to meet me at the airport, money for a taxi, or room available at the hotel I was set to stay. Luckily I convinced the hotel to pay for my taxi and find a makeshift room for the night…which was basically a closet.
After figuring out how to call my parents collect and wiping away a few tears, my mom told me this was all part of the adventure and to TRUST that the journey ahead will be rewarding. Mom’s Yoda-like message didn’t make sense at the time, but she was right.
For the next three weeks, I experienced new cultures, met incredible people and felt more alive than ever. I was able to drink legally (which felt pretty cool), saw places I learned about in history class, and fell in love with a girl from the tour (or at least I thought I did…I was 18). I returned home a changed man and couldn’t wait for my next adventure.
As I reflect on my first meaningful travel experience, the biggest takeaway from that trip was saying YES to the adventure. Not letting the lack of friends joining me or mishaps keep me down. That trip opened me up and put me on a path for years of wonderful adventures ahead.
Stay positive. We will travel again.