Updated: Apr 6, 2022
How exploring the world is an eye opening experience.
Allow me, please? Close your eyes, ok, well maybe do not close your eyes because then you cannot read this. ;)
Imagine your standing on a beach. The day is overcast and misty. In your rain boots, you see your feet upon the wet sands of this historic beach. Looking out across English Channel you cannot help but think of all the men who struggled to fight and how many died right here where these these boots and you stand. It's almost overwhelming to stand here. Right here, on this peaceful beach, is one of the most well known sights of incredible loss of life, Omaha Beach. Most every World War II documentary that mentions the D-Day operations have emphasized the importance of the landings on beaches like Omaha, Utah, Pont du Hoc, and beyond as well as the valiant efforts of the paratroopers who were crucial to the effectiveness and success of these operations. Can you image standing upon these beaches, meadows, marshes, and roads where the greatest generation fought and died? Crawling upon the shore of Omaha Beach, climbing the seemingly impossible cliffs of Pont du Hoc, these incredible operations fought on all of the misty shores I could see to the east and west as well as the marsh-like lands behind me. It was very humbling, heartbreaking, proud, and overwhelming to visit these locations, especially as a former active duty U.S. Navy enlisted member. One does not have to have any military connection to see, feel, and understand the the intensity of visiting Normandy. The nuanced emotions such as those I've expressed as well as the pride and extreme gratitude of the French will sink in regardless. Many of us have seen documentaries, watched Band of Brothers and other films depicting scenes from WWII's European campaign but one can never truly feel the full experience unless you've stood where they've stood.
My more recent international trip in 2017 to France with a few family members is one I cherish and I cannot begin to put into words just how impactful it was. The impact I refer to is something someone feels when traveling and exploring new places and is not only felt in a location like Normandy, but is experienced at most any location international or not. It is felt while walking the trails and ramps within the super volcano of
Pont du Hoc, Normandy, May 2017
Yellowstone National Park where so much of the air is filled with the scent of sulfur. It's the sound of wind whipping through the windows of your car as you travel across the country on route 66 or other interstates as you pass interesting names like Lotta Water and Frogs Leap. It's grasping the full scope of birds whistling while the wind tosses your hair and of bushes in almost every direction as you take in the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Only now can you understand that this feeling and what you see goes far beyond any of the post cards and even the wondrous discovery Channel drone footage you'e seen on TV countless times.
No matter how little or how much I have traveled I can tell you that every experience, continental U.S. or international, has given me something special. I have numerous silly and fun memories from road trips with my mom. The night she took myself, 6, and my grandmother to see Les Miserable was incredible, though she had to tell me to stop singing so loudly. Experiencing Phantom of the Opera beyond the CD with my Grandmother, father, and cousin in Vancouver B.C. completely blew my 13 year-old mind. My single, multi-job holding, full-time college-going mom managed to find a way to send me to France before my
junior year of high school. I was 16 and thanks to this trip my love of international travel was established. I've traveled in two capacities, with a brief account above of some of my faves as a civilian. I also traveled as an active enlisted member of the U.S. Navy upon a warship, U.S.S. Kearsarge in the Persian Gulf.
Suez Canal Using a telescopic alidade Coming to home port
I had the opportunity to see things most Americans will not in a capacity less than 10% of the U.S. population would. It was an invaluable experience. Although I traveled to France in high school, my experiences as an active military member were very different. These experiences took me to places I never would have imagined, and opened my eyes to perspectives I really needed to see. More on this particular topic in a later post.
The benefits of traveling are not so simply stated because it is such an experience. All of the small and almost unnoticeable elements come together to infiltrate every sense you have and it is almost unexplainable. The fun is so much more than the sights, the food, the fun, and any other usual parts most would attribute to the standard travel adventure. It's the decorations in the shops you pass on the champs, the hijibs worn by the women you pass, the smells of the various street vendors and ocean-side cafes in Rhodes Greece. You simply cannot get any of these details through an explanation or even a video, despite the cliche.
When this mess of COVID-19 is over, please consider traveling. I started this travel advising business because of this passion I have; this appreciation for how traveling as an adventure and an inherent education to the party experiencing it. Exploring our world is the best way to live a brilliant, bold, and beautifully empowered life.