Why Travel?

By Charlie Strader 2/13/14

I can think of many, many reasons to travel, especially for international travel. Basically I believe that travel is good for others and you - particularly your brain, both your intellect and emotions.

Most of my reasons would fall in the broad categories of below:

1. Travel helps provide income and assistance to those in need living in the places visited. This is can be achieved as simply as staying in and using locally owned facilitates, purchasing local handicrafts, good tipping to those providing services, donating your services/skills or money to individuals and local charities.

2. Personal gratification of travel goals by going to desired places and seeing places of interest. We often hear things like;
"I have always wanted to be on the Amazon River and see the rainforest", or "I have wanted to see Machu Picchu for years."

3. Furthering personal education and interests in the natural world and other cultures. Often travelers have specific travel interests such as wildlife viewing, archaeology, history, geography, photography, cuisine, art, etc.

4. Foreign travel by its very nature, provides the brain with newness and novelty. Scientific studies have shown that the human brain not only "craves" newness, it gratifies the brain by releasing dopamine (which stimulates feelings of enjoyment, excitement, optimism and elation) and actually improves the intellect by establishing new connections in the brain through neuroplasticity. For older people in particular, encountering new sights and experiences can improve cognitive abilities and brain fitness.

5. Travel can lead to making new lifetime friends. Often noted in the best part section of our trip reviews are interactions with the the local people, guides, and fellow travelers. And, research has shown that making and having new friends can actually increase longevity.

6. Being in extraordinary places, having new experiences, and engaging with others can have transformational properties. It can change the way we think about the world, others, and ourselves. Travel can broaden your horizons and help make you a better person.

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Travel really can bring happiness or fulfillment, and even lead to a longer life!

In 2013, the
Global Commission on Aging released research that shows travel offers physical and cognitive benefits.
According to the study:
* Women who vacationed every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death compared with women who vacationed at least twice a year.
* Men who did not take an annual vacation were shown to have a 20% higher risk of death and about a 30% greater risk of death from heart disease.
* Benefits of travel are almost immediate. After only a day or two, 89% of respondents saw significant drops in stress.
* The study also noted that 59% of Americans dream of traveling during their retirement, and that the most impactful trips are those spent with family and friends.
Researchers did account for factors such as income levels and preexisting poor health. The full report and more can be found at:

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The bottom line is - Travel is good medicine for the mind and body!
* It provides exercise for both.
* The social aspects can increase longevity, make you happier, and improve your social skills.
* It can transform your worldview, beliefs, attitude, and lives.
* It provides opportunities for personal growth, inspiration and giving.

So, go exploring when you can - even if not traveling with Explorations :)

Because... as quoted by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Happy trails,

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Discovering A Sense of Self: Exploring Solo (by Susan Gower)

For many individuals who venture off into the world, the art of travel truly is a journey – an adventure which serves as a rite of passage, a coming-of-age tale. It’s an endeavor which reveals our strengths and weaknesses, opens our minds, and subjects us to situations where we discover aspects of our character which we may not otherwise have experienced. For some, it is about experiencing other cultures and environments, for others, independence – and for many, it’s both. From 
the glorious summits of Yucatan temples overlooking the skies to the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the world is a glorious place to bring in the next stage of life.

A Changing Industry
Every year, millions of individuals embark on their own adventure of discovery. Sometimes it’s a bucket list quest, a volunteer expedition, or simply relaxation time. But more than ever, solo travel is an extremely popular endeavor, 
experienced by people from all walks of life. While there are particular challenges which arise such as safety, accommodation, and transport, all these can be met by planning ahead (while leaving some room for that wonderful sense of spontaneity). As social conventions are slowly becoming more liberal and traveling more accessible, travel industries have begun to cater to solo travelers. In some cases, this entails presenting an even greater challenge, such as boot camp style ventures, while others do all the hard work for their clients ahead of time. Cruises which cater to singles are highly profitable and provide an ideal environment for travelers to journey alone in comfort or meet and mingle with other singles, sharing stories and forging life-long friendships.  

Now, there are a myriad of trips which anyone can undertake, which vary in difficulty, theme, accessibility, and other factors – the LGBT community, for instance, enjoys an immense variety of trips which are now available from bed and breakfasts and Pride events to several organizations which 
specialize in this field. Cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Montreal, San Francisco and several other diverse and inclusive destinations appeal – but it’s not all about the city. Many have stepped beyond the thresholds of the concrete jungle to capture a more authentic experience when it comes to nature and feeling the earth beneath one’s feet – perhaps on an inspiration whim driven by Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson, or those other transcendental greats who sought a revolution of the mind through the natural world.

Contributing to a Better World
Though many individuals choose the solitary route such as hiking the Appalachian Trail alone or rafting the Amazon without companions in order to create a space of reflection and harmony with the world, others journey on their own but in the company of strangers who become friends, and become involved in projects which will benefit communities as well as their own sense of wellbeing and contribution. Particularly with the advent and 
increasing popularity of ecotourism, which is specifically geared to benefit local communities and travelers while respecting the environment and the cultures which thrive around and within it, more and more people are thinking conscientiously about what they do when they travel. Now, travel companies are motivated to provide an experience which is immersive, educational, and fulfilling which will resonate with people for the rest of their lives, whether it’s discovering the vast history of Machu Picchu or partaking in one of the many lively festivals that animate so many towns, villages and cities across the globe. Rather than the corporate-driven, white-washed setting which isolates tourists from the true spirit of a destination despite its often detrimental effects to the communities surrounding it, this alternative tourism offers a more off-the-beaten track exposure without being disruptive, often directly benefiting local projects. People have a chance to walk away having met new characters and experienced a part of the world in a different light.

Even more importantly, traveling alone has given people the opportunity to open their minds and even adapt to alternate lifestyles. From learning about a different history and culture to life-building skills such as team work, traveling alone with a group is one of the best ways to discover more parts of the world. Whether it’s learning a new craft, language, or culture and absorbing what the natural and social environment has to offer, it’s an experience that everyone should undergo at least once in their lifetime.

Story contributed by Susan Gower.
Explorations’ philosophy has always been that with travel, you not only learn about other cultures - you also learn more about yourself.

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We hope you can participate in one of our fun and educational adventures!