Travel is food for the soul. If everyone had the opportunity to wander more, imagine how culturally rich and empathetic the world could be. I realize I have been blessed to have the chance to visit nearly every country on the planet and it’s something I’ve never taken for granted.
When you meet someone in a foreign land you have a chance to discover something you could never have learned if you hadn’t had that face time. Lately, I have been exploring Africa. With 54 countries, Africa accounts for about 18% of the world’s human population.
Algeria stands out as particularly charming. During my time there, I was impressed by El Atteuf, a 10th-century fortified town known for its architecture and rocky limestone terrain, which makes traveling by donkey the preferred transportation method. There are four or five or six of these fortified towns in this one area, and it really is a beautiful, simpler way of life. And I will never forget meeting an inquisitive group of Nigerian children who were on a school trip. Our mutual interest made for a memorable experience. As I encounter different groups of people, I realize we can learn a lot from each other. It’s always more about what I can learn from them rather than what I can teach them.
For me, the connection with another person is always most evident in the eyes. You may not speak a single word of the same language but you can communicate with your eyes. I always travel with my camera and I take snapshots of people wherever I go, capturing that synergy. The conversations I have had are what make my travels fulfilling. These exchanges have had a significant impact on my life and I hope, in some way, I’ve been able to have a positive impact on their lives, too.
I have always felt we have far more in common with each other than we realize, no matter where we go. None of us are really strangers.
I have drunk in the majesty of a waterfall in Cameroon. I have rambled through palaces in Saudi Arabia. I have ridden atop an elephant in Sri Lanka, and I have come to the conclusion that traveling is the best education one can get. It not only boosts creativity and lowers stress levels, but it’s been shown to lower depression and improve communication skills. Since going abroad exposes you to different habitats, it can be a healthy jolt to the immune system. I think it also makes us more appreciative of how precious our planet is and inspires each of us to take better care of the environment.
I think the key to living your best life is getting out of your comfort zone — and what better way to bid adieu to one’s daily routine than to journey to an exciting new land? It’s thrilling to know we haven’t yet met all the people who are going to inspire us. Travel to as many places as you can and carry less in your bags and more in your heart.