Thursday, May 12, 2011

Don’t love travel?

I have a theory that everyone loves to travel…they just don’t know it yet.

Most people think of travel as sightseeing. Although that is definitely enjoyable, that isn’t why I travel.

I travel because I have to know how other people live. How other people see the world.

I remember the week before I went to study abroad in Vienna. I was an emotional wreck. I cried a lot. I was scared to leave my friends, and Utah. I had no idea what it was going to be like. I wasn’t going, at that point, because I loved travel. I was going because it was going to allow me to escape the BYU music program for a while. Hey, the idea of use of travel for an escape is not a new one.

So I was really scared, but I remember my dad told me: “Kalli…I think you’re really going to like it.”

That turned out to be an understatement. You don’t live in the world’s number one quality of life city for three and a half months and not fall in love with it.


At a football match in Vienna

I woke up every morning energized and excited for what the day would bring. I’d never had my own car, so public transportation meant I could actually get around on my own. I went clubbing with my roommate and I even met an Austrian boy. I fell in love with Europe.

I came back to the States ready for more.

Which leads me to my secret trick to fall in love with traveling:

To really travel, you have to stay a while. In one place. Preferably a month. Preferably not a tourist city.

A tourist city is defined as a city which exists solely to cater to tourists. Cappadocia or Ephesus, Turkey are some. The islands of Thailand, any kind of luxury cruise, Cancun, Mexico, and Santorini, Greece, too. Not that these places shouldn’t be visited—they just aren’t the place to go to if you are thinking about “traveling” as opposed to “vacationing.” Living in a place versus doing a shop-til-you-drop, mad-running-about-to-see-every-site, the-locals-are-all-out-to–get-your-tourist-dollar scammers (or worse, there are no locals because tourists and expats have actually taken over the city), visit is completely different. In fact, that idea is exhausting to do full time. We just hang out. We spend a lot of time at our hotel. We do maybe one touristy thing a week. Then we’ll go on some stint for a few days where we’re basically full out tourists…then return to relax and spend the rest of the month just hibernating, hanging out with new friends, and working on the computer.

I know not everyone has the ability to travel for a month at a time, but if you get the chance, a month will give you a completely different feeling than a jam-packed four days will. For Jacob, that vision came when he stayed in New Caledonia for 2 years. Jacob had to convince me to travel slow at first. For me, as someone who is desperate to see the whole world, it definitely was a paradigm shift. But now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some would say even one or two months is too short, really…and in some ways it is. But it at least gives you that depth that can only come when you stay in one place long enough for it to feel like home.

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers don’t know where they’re going.


Jamie said...

I love this, Kalli.

I studied abroad, too. I lived just outside of Rome for 4 months in 2005. I absolutely loved it! It was fun to visit other cities/countries in Europe, and then return home... to Rome. It was an interesting transition to call Italy home, rather than Texas. I remember that it upset my mom the first time I said it on the phone.

I love traveling, but I can't do that right now (finances and health). But, I miss it so much!

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

It will happen for you again Jamie! Who knows, maybe we will meet one day in Rome!

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