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Matt Kepnes Headshot

Why We Travel

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Last week, I celebrated my 4th year of traveling. Four years of constant, on the move, nomad travel. My father once told me I was running away. People I meet ask how I could fathom leaving home for so long. Wouldn't I miss everyone and everything? Wouldn't I get lonely? How would I find a girlfriend? Aren't I too old to be doing this? We all have our reasons for traveling- wanderlust, the love of a culture, the desire to leave it all behind, the need to forget, or the need to meet new people. Travel becomes a way for people to deal with different situations, experience new things, or help search for one's self.

Everyone loves to travel. Yet few people end up doing more than just taking a two week vacation. In America, in the trade off between time and money, we choose money (and working long hours). St. Augustine once said "The world is a book, and he who doesn't travel reads only one page." I keep that quote in my mind constantly.

In the book of the world, all the pages are different. Everything is new, everything is changing. People who set off for long journeys aren't running away from anything. We travel for the change. Whether you're going to see a pyramid, a new culture, are going for a month or a year, to get away, or to learn, long term travelers seek change. We seek something different. A change in self, attitude, daily routine, or impressions of another culture -- change is the only constant on the road.

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In this modern world of 9 to 5, mortgages, carpools, and bills, our days can get pretty regimented and become pretty boring. Typically, our days rarely exhibit huge change. Under the weight of everything, we often lose track of what's important to us and what are goals are. We get so caught between commutes and errands or driving the kids to soccer, that we forget how to breath and to smell those roses. When I was home I could plan out my days months in advance. Why? Because they weren't going to be much different -- commute, work, gym, sleep, repeat. Yet on the road, every moment represents a new beginning. No day is the same. You can't plan out what will happen because nothing is set in stone. No commutes, no errands, no scheduled meetings. Just you and your whim. Everything is so different that months begin to feel like years. You can't imagine that Paris was only two weeks ago. So much has happened since then, it feel likes two years ago.

We may all start for different reasons but we continue for one. We want to see the world, see something different, see something change. Travel allows for change. The new, the exciting, the different, and the adventure -- it's all there when you travel. Your days no longer are dictated by business hours but by the changing winds of your own heart. We all want something different from our daily routine, something to challenge us. People thrive on variety. It is hardwired into our heads. Nobody wakes up and is grateful for sitting eight hours in a cubicle. No. All we talk about is breaking free from it. Breaking the walls down and going somewhere... different.

That's what makes travel so interesting, intriguing, and inviting to us all. Travel calls us. It beckons us to come with it to new lands and unfamiliar retreats. It gives us a respite and sanctuary from the world of 9 to 5. It shows us new places, people, and cultures.

That is why I travel. I am in the driver's seat on this road and I can only see one sign on it. It reads "Change Ahead." As I look around at the other drivers, we all smile. We all smile together, knowing something new is just up around the bend -- a new adventure, a new challenge, a new lover, or a new friend. Something is about to be different. We can feel it.