May 1, 2013

For as long as I can remember, traveling has been a part of my life. My parents took us everywhere from summer cross-country road trips to Caribbean cruises to tours of Israel. Whether by boat, plane, train or automobile, my family loved to take off on adventures and we rarely went to the same place twice. Each trip exposed us to new and exhilarating sights, sounds, cuisines and cultural experiences and although we returned home exhausted, it was always with warm hearts and enriched spirits with lots of memories to recall and stories to tell. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to have found myself involved in a life and career that allows me to continue to travel all over the world and often. Not only that, but now I am part of a much larger community of people who share my itinerant lifestyle. It's strange but fun to have friends and colleagues who travel as frequently as me-people with whom I can discuss my favorite countries, cities and airports and which of those places have the easiest transit systems, best shopping, yummiest restaurants, nicest terminals, and most extensive duty-free stores. It's a delight to know that wherever I am in the world, I will most likely run into someone I know.

But as much as I love to travel, I am also an incredible homebody. So, dare I say, as bratty as it may sound, traveling can get lackluster. Sometimes I just want to be in comfortable surroundings with familiar people and places. I want to be in my house, withmy things and sleep in my bed with sheets that smell like my laundry detergent. It's such a pleasure to be able to pick out an outfit from the entirety of my wardrobe, not just what I was able to fit in my suitcase. When I'm traveling for work and not for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, sometimes the excitement and glamour of being in a strange place can quickly turn into feeling lonely and homesick.

However, your life is what you make of it, so any time that traveling gets monotonous for me, I try to reflect on why I fell in love with it in the first place: because there is always something out there that I have never experienced and may never get to again. And with that, I get out my Google maps and walking shoes and set out to wander because I know that there is always a new language to learn, a new cultural practice to observe, a new landmark to see: modern art or ancient ruins-you never know what you might find. One thing I've been particularly enjoying on my travels lately is the vastly different wildlife. Just yesterday, I came across a duck in Munich whose feathers were boldly multi-colored, entirely jewel toned and the exact color palette I've been dreaming about for my living and dining room. Before that, when I was down in Naples, I came across two different groups of birds that I had never seen before (it turns out they were royal terns and black skimmers), but with whom I spent loads of time on my long walks up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida. I even learn new things about myself when I wander, because as I'm reading this I realize that when I'm away I seem to do things that I can't when I'm at home in New York City: spend time in and around bodies of water, and observe wildlife in its natural habitat.

Even after traveling for over 30 years, I know that I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of seeing and doing everything I want to experience. As I was starting to write this blog entry, I looked out the window of my plane from Zurich to Munich and saw the Swiss Alps for the first time with my own eyes. The mountaintops were above the clouds, but the clouds were completely covering the sky so it just looked like little rocks peeping out of a snow-covered ground. And then I remembered that I was 30,000 feet in the air. It was breathtaking.

The thing about traveling is that what may seem foreign and exotic to you is completely familiar and perhaps even boring to that place's inhabitants. Because it takes you out of your comfort zone, traveling can be unsettling, but try to suppress any feelings of nervousness or hesitation, because, I promise, the spoils are great and the rewards aplenty. Even if your job does not require you to globetrot, you should require yourself to do so. Travel the way you want, where you want and how you want. Pick a means of transportation and let it take you to a place you never dreamed you'd see. If you want to see a game in every baseball stadium in America, do it! If you want to see the Seven Wonders of the World before you die, do it! If you want to make sure you set foot on every continent and put your toes in all the oceans, do it! Explore. Experience. Learn. The world is your oyster. Go bask in its many splendors.

© Leah Edwards 2018