About a month ago, I was on a bus going down Second Avenue. I was standing in front of two young women, who were regaling their recent online dating stories to one another. One was telling her friend that the guy she was interested in had a profile that included the fact that he loved to travel, but didn’t like to vacation. The two ensued in a debate as to whether there was a difference, and I had to seriously hold back sharing my own opinion (there is a definitely a difference). They netted out on the fact that you travel to get to a vacation. While I absolutely respect everyone’s opinions and beliefs, it got my thinking about my own travels and vacations and the importance of each.
To me, traveling is about seeing new places, experiencing local cultures, embedding yourself into a world or a place that is not your home. I think travel is one of the most wonderful things in the world. I have the incredible privilege of traveling quite a bit both personally and for work. In my professional role, I run a leadership development program – one of the key tenants of my work is to develop site visits where the business professionals have the opportunity to travel and see social entrepreneurship first hand. Now, traveling to Rwanda, or Uganda, or Nepal for three days is definitely not a vacation. However, it offers the opportunity to experience what local ecosystems of social change really look like, from the perspective of people in communities. Learn more about the site visits I lead here.
Over the past couple weeks, I traveled a lot (hence the lack of writing on here!). I’m already eager and anxious for my next trip, which is a combination of travel and vacation – there will be four days that I’m in one place with the sole purpose of eating pizza, drinking wine, and savoring relaxation. Now, I fully realize that not everyone has the ability (or even desire) to travel or take a vacation. But I think there are moments we can create in our own life that can provide the same feelings and experiences that traveling halfway across the world can. If you live in mid-town Manhattan, you can travel to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to explore the culture of the original Little Italy. Or, you can have a vacation-like day in the Rockaways, eating Arepas and drinking margaritas. If you live in Massachusetts, you can spend an over-night in Boston, and explore a new part of the city. To me, the purpose of travel is learning to think differently, to develop empathy, to challenge your own assumptions and belief systems. We can all find ways to travel every so often, and I think it will not only make us happier, but will allow us to think about impact in a better way. But, most importantly – let’s not forget to take vacations too!
For a little inspiration: 52 Places to go in 2017