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Your Brain on Travel

Renew Your Mind and Use Your Passport!

We are told to do it while we are young. It makes us richer and endows us with opportunity. Those who didn’t get enough of it might feel remorse in their twilight years. I am not referring to saving money - though saving money certainly helps with the subject at hand.

I am referring to travel. Travel has a unique way of inspiring awe and curiosity regardless of age; it reminds us where our roots lie and challenges us to broaden our perspectives. Travel demands that we have flexibility because trust me, things will not go as planned. Learning to bend with unexpected challenges is not a skill isolated to travel; it extends to even our daily interactions.  

Growing up in a military family meant half of my belongings were always taped up in cardboard boxes. By the time I was five years old, I had wet my feet in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. By the time I was seven, I had already called four states ‘home’. It would be another two years before I came to recognize how different my experiences had been from my peers. This early encounter with travel shaped my view of the world and still influences my values today.

As Americans, it can be difficult for us to wrap our minds around structures and cities that are older than 300 years. Standing at the impressive foot of the Prague Castle for the first time shifted a quiet sort of ignorance I’d had about the passing of time. Walking along cobblestone roads in historic Rothenburg filled me with an appreciation for human ingenuity and perseverance. My brain sort of glitched when I learned about a particular well that had been dug before 1100 AD. The world had been around long before me and would continue to go on long after I was gone.

The first time I visited Australia, a group of young men approached my sister and me at a beach after they heard our American accent. In talking with them, I was confronted with the realization that even though all of us spoke English, it didn’t mean we understood one another clearly. Their dialect was so different that they might as well been speaking another language entirely.

Some travel encounters have filled me with delight while others were far more sobering. In each case, I have been gifted with a lesson either about others or about myself.

With the extended winter finally coming to a close, many of us will start planning our next vacation. The most popular travel destinations this year have been Alaska, Iceland, and various areas of Europe. Mexico and the Dominican Republic continue to be a staple for spring breakers, honeymooners, and families.

Most of us are protective of our time and money when it comes to planning, securing and experiencing our vacations. After all, we only get so many a year. While a plethora of online booking resources gives us options, I personally found that it is worthwhile to consult travel professionals before I put down a nonrefundable deposit. A professional’s expertise can mean the difference between a vacation that refreshes and a vacation that stresses. Whatever your travel style and destination might be, always do your research and ensure your passports are up-to-date no later than 3 months before you fly or cruise. Bon voyage, world travelers!