I don’t want to start this with a cliched, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” or, “See the world, come home for love,” but this is going to be an article that tells you to travel. Travel changes who you are, influences what you believe in and opens your mind to new ideas. Each time I travel to a new country, or even a new place, I come back with a greater appreciation for my own country and family as well as an enhanced view of the world.
Now, I’m not telling you to go right this minute to the travel agents and book a flight to Africa, Europe or Russia. I’m telling you that there are much cheaper ways to travel and that your own country, America, has a lot to offer.
During spring break I visited Richmond, Virginia Beach and Washington D.C., as well as doing a Contiki tour on the West Coast. Contiki (www.contiki. com) is an Australian company that now operates internationally, offering budget holidays for 18-35 year olds around the world. I did their Western Highlights tour, which was 8 days starting in LA. We visited San Diego, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. I spent the week hot air ballooning, flying in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, speed boating and even spent St. Patrick’s Day in Vegas.
While the majority of tourists on the trip were 20-something Australians, we also had people from New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and Japan. You can even participate in a Contiki tour in your own country.
Spending time with a multicultural group of young people, I believe, enhances your travel experience, and you can make some pretty wonderful friends in a week.
Recently I visited New York City, seeing the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial and museum, a Broadway show and the view from The Rock, before returning to small town life in Wise.
People have told me, “you’ve been to more places than me, and I have lived here my whole life,” but I retort that I am the same. I have not seen all the “hot spots” in Australia, nor been to every state and territory. (And we only have 8!)
From my experiences, America has a lot to offer. The unique and diverse cultures, people and places give you some great memories and experiences without ever having to leave the country you were born in.