Many of my friends are out traveling right now. I've got some in Edinburgh, Scotland, some traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. I would by lying if I said I was not a tad bit jealous. But hey, I've stood outside temples thousands of years old in Sicily, been inside a 5,000 year old passage tomb in Ireland and stepped foot over the doorway of stave churches in Norway over 1000 years old. Those are a few of the incredible things I've done. And my traveling days are far from over. Next on my list? Pretty sure it will be Paris.
I've been pretty fortunate to travel as much as I have. Below is a favorite quote of mine from Mark Twain, and it is absolutely true. Whether you are traveling to a "Westernized" country or not, even going to somewhere that speaks a similar language to yours the customs are different and you are out of your element, rushing headlong into the unknown. I found this to be absolutely true when I spent a month in Ireland. That is what shakes the rust off. Getting out of your "little corner of the world".
And I'm not talking about staying in a fancy hotel in the touristy areas. I'm talking about living where the people live, getting to know the culture, how they live day in and day out. I have found that is where the magic of travel is. Nothing wrong with luxury, but you miss out on the things that make a country or a culture most spectacular by staying on the beaten path. You find hidden little gems you would never have known about if you are willing to venture even a few blocks outside the tourist traps.
So I would encourage everyone to get out, travel. In a time where our leaders are working very hard to instill fear of others, go experience a country or a culture not your own. Travel IS fatal to prejudice because you get to see first hand the beauty and the cruelty of the world and you are often relying on the hospitality of complete strangers. The times I took those risks turned out to be the best and most life-changing experiences. I've made some life-long friends and connections from these experiences and I would be a much duller person without them. So don't buy into the fear, get out and see the world.