I Believe In Travel

Devon - Virginia
Entered on April 29, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in Travel. I believe when you travel you learn things that cannot be learned in other ways. When you travel, you increase your cultural understanding and appreciation for the world around you and I believe that makes you a better person.

I am in no way an expert on this subject, but as I begin to leave home, I wish to develop my travel skills and expand my horizons to as many destinations as humanly possible. In my 17 years on this planet I have visited 3 continents (North and South American and Europe), 8 countries (America, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Argentina, and Chile), 17 states, and too many cities to count. Although few I barely remember due to my young age at the time of the visit, the concept of wanderlust has been instilled in me permanently.

I went to Europe when I was about 8 with my grandparents who were doing mission work for the summer across the Continent. Since my family is fully Irish, it was obviously the first stop. Even though I was young, I couldn’t help but notice how patriotic everyone seemed. Although many towns did not have the fortune many of us in the US have, every person I remember meeting was happy with their lives. People in the United States are consumed with their love of money and material things, but those who venture outside the boarder realize that we are very fortunate in this country and yet many of us are still unhappy. My first lesson learned, traveling makes you appreciate what you have, or in some cases, what you don’t have.

When I was 11, I went to Chile and Argentina again with my grandparents on more of their mission work, this time accompanied by my aunt and uncle. I’m not going to lie, South America scared me. There’s so many bright colors and everything moves in a fast pace only rivaled by Tokyo. In large crowds with a lot of commotion I tend to freak out and need to remove myself from that situation immediately before I hyperventilate, so Argentina and Chile – not my favorite places. The one thing I did notice was that, many Americans feel they have and have not’s are greatly separated, but we are nothing compared to the vast gap between the two classes in South America. The rich live in homes that make our mansions in Beverly Hills seem like shacks. I assume the great divide is the reason that he rich in some parts treat the have not’s like they have the plague or leprosy. We stayed with a lower class family during our time there and did everything they possibly could to ensure that we were comfortable. These people are very poor and are treated like they don’t exist by the upper classes, their schools are beyond disastrous, and they have to keep their kids out of the city because the rich are dealing drugs at night. And even though the poor people in these countries should resent the rich, they don’t. They had nothing but nice words about them. Second lesson learned, as cliché as it is, treat others as you want to be treated.

I have family in Mililani on O’ahu, and every year we travel there to see them. Although Hawaii is probably the most visited or want to visit state in America the Hawaiian culture is still obvious in almost everything you see while there. There are restaurants like McDonalds, chain stores like Wal-Mart, and Clothing stores like Belk, but I have rarely, if not never, seen a Hawaiian in one of those kinds of store. They prefer to shop in small little stores off the beaten path run by Hawaiians for Hawaiians. (Quick traveler tip – calling everyone “Hawaiians” is kind of seen as an ethnic label. People who live or born and raised there are referred to as “islanders”, only those who are of native Hawaiian blood are called “Hawaiians”. It would be like calling all Americans “native Americans” just because we were born here). Although everything around Hawaiians scream tourism, they find a way to not only preserve their culture but inspire others with it. Third lesson learned, your native culture should always be a part of your live no matter who you are surrounded by or how far away from your homeland you are.

Although you can learn these kinds of lessons in other ways by never leaving your home town, there is a depth to it that you you’ll never understand until you visit the world around you. I believe in travel.