I've been traveling since I could basically walk. My first trip was to Washington D.C., a place huge and foreign to a little Malaysian girl, who discovered her profound love for McDonalds, simply because of the free toys (oh advertising, this is why I blame you for the rise of obesity). My parents have been and still are avid travelers, due to my mother working in an airline company. As a result of this, I feel so privileged that they've given me the opportunity to travel. I've been to about 15 or so countries, from touring around the grand Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany to walking the Great wall of China.
I believe that there are many important aspects with traveling. I know that not everyone has this opportunity, but if you do, embrace it. Traveling can develop a person's character, being open minded. You aren't enclosed in your bubble; you get outside of your comfort zone. Traveling is something you can't learn in a classroom.
For example, poverty is not something I had been exposed to living in Australia. The most I'd see is a homeless person in the city, busking with a guitar. I hadn't been really exposed to it, until I was on a trip in southeastern Europe in 2010, and we were in Sarajevo, Bosnia. As a 13-year-old, I had never even heard of the country Bosnia. I saw many walls with gunshot holes, as a result of the Bosnian war in '90s. My dad and I were walking with the tour group, and we saw these young girls; the oldest carrying a crying baby with her little sister following. They were begging tourists for money. I had never seen beggars as young as them. I could see their distressed expressions, and their eyes told me something. To actually experience seeing poverty, is much different than hearing about it. Nowadays, some people wouldn't be caught buying a pair of $5 shoes that isn't branded or "in style." But in some countries, many children are barefooted and are exposed to many health diseases and cuts. They would consider shoes to be a luxury and a simple pair of shoes would bring them joy.
As a traveler, you discover new beautiful, interesting places that make you want to come back and you experience different cultures that you weren't aware of. The Thai locals have a reputation for providing superb hospitality. When I visited Chiang Mai, they bowed to me and to the other travelers, greeting with a warm welcome "Sawadee Ka." Even in Turkey, I visited one of the leather shops in the Grand Bazaar with my parents. While my mother was trying on a few leather jackets, the Turks tried to make us feel comfortable, seating us and served us apple tea.
"We never know what we have until we lose it." Maybe in a way, traveling can be perceived as the golden opportunity to "escape" from reality, from our busy daily lives. At the start of a vacation, all my worries and problems begin to disappear. But then, after time is spent away from my comfy bed, home-cooked food and friends, you realize how much you miss all that regularity, and realize the importance of the littlest things.
Traveling has always been a part of me, and I'm determined to keep on traveling for the rest of my life, as there is so much more to see. I'm also determined to encourage traveling, especially to my own generation. Instead of staying home during the entire summer, maybe look into your traveling options. It doesn't necessarily have to be out of the country, or an expensive trip, even a road trip is a good idea. Travel as much as you can throughout your life, to broaden your horizons. As the trending phrase rose to fame last year, I'll say that "You only live once."