I am writing this post as a resident of North America, but this sentiment holds true for people living anywhere at all. International travel gets all the buzz. It seems like everybody wants to be an expat these days. While I’ve got nothing against that, I’ve learned the pleasures of seeing a part of your own nation that you’ve never seen before. I have recently returned from my first real trip out west (California, Nevada, Arizona), and I’ve got to tell you, I might as well have been in another country.
I think I enjoyed Arizona the most. While there, I enjoyed golf lessons at Bird Golf Arizona but after that I went off the beaten path. I found time to kayak, spelunk (my first usage of that verb in written form), and camping under the clearest night sky I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t been into the Arizona desert, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve always seen pictures, and while I loved seeing the Grand Canyon with my own eyes, the best part of the trip for me was just being in the desert, feeling the big, lonely vibe. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before.
From there I headed into California. I’ve made this drive before, but I had to do it quick because I was relocating a girlfriend from the West Coast to the East, and I needed to make it quick. This time I was able to luxuriate. I stopped off the side of the 1, the coastal highway, and fished, just a hundred yards from the road. My spot was totally private, totally beautiful. I didn’t catch anything, but the feeling of being perched on the edge of the country stuck with me.
Travel within your own country takes a certain mindset. It has, I think, a lot of benefits. Here are only a few.
- It’s cheaper. If you have a dependable vehicle, you won’t have to pay for airfare. You won’t have to exchange currencies. You may even be able to get by without lodging if you are rugged enough. I was able to on my recent journey.
- You’ll gain an appreciation of your country that you previously lacked. I wouldn’t call myself a huge patriot or anything, but I gained a love for my country by spending some time rolling around its dusty backroads. I heard accents I’m unfamiliar with, even if we shared a language. I always knew that the US was diverse, but I’ve never had the diversity of it surround me in the way that it did during my travel out West.
- You’ll get more out of the place you live. People forget to take the time to travel. It should be a basic human right in my opinion, but for now, you’ve got to make it work. Once you return, you’ll be a tiny bit of a hero. People respect other people who have taken the time to adventure, to experience new things, and see things previously unseen. You’ll have a richer life to draw upon. The things you worry about will seem smaller in light of the bigger world you’ve experienced. And all without breaking out your passport once.
Even if you don’t live in North America, your nation of origin has diversity and adventure that you have not yet experienced. While I’m an advocate of international travel, I also recognize the importance of getting out and see the land you were born in. It will be a better home for you having experienced it.