By: Garland Horwitz
Stories have been passed down from one generation to the next since the beginning of humankind. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? Why are stories so pervasive, so revered, so manifold? Travel With Meaning itself is a storytelling platform, so I wanted to examine the reasons why travel stories are so important to our lives.
Having interned at Travel With Meaning for nearly one year, I ask myself this quite often as of late. To introduce myself, my name is Garland. I am a senior at UCLA with an affinity for travel and exploring the outdoors. I discovered TWM when seeking a way to listen to travel-related stories on a road trip and have been part of the community ever since. Sadly, this is my final blog, so I wanted to end with a question that ties my journey together: What is the meaning of travel stories?
Before children learn to read, society encourages them to value and enjoy books. Stories are essential to building our understanding of the world and enhancing our wellbeing. As we all know, stories teach lessons and shape culture in an entertaining manner, which is why stories have been told for centuries.
Today, podcasts harness the power of technology to continue this tradition and expand the reach of stories. This is one goal of Travel With Meaning - to serve as a platform for travelers to share experiences with the greater community. But why are travel stories so important? The list goes on, but here are a few distilled reasons to keep in mind as you move forward on your journeys.
Unity. No matter one’s background, experiences, personality, etc, travel connects and unites us. It allows us to learn about other cultures, yielding cultural integration and understanding, respect, and harmony.
New Perspectives. Learn about places and traditions you have never heard of before, and recognize that they are a piece of the puzzle that we call Earth just as much as your community is a piece of the puzzle. You may learn things about the world and yourself. Carry what you learn with you to gain new outlooks on your daily life. Even grocery shopping can feel different when you do this.
Self-Reflection. Travel stories open up space for introspection. How might you have reacted in that nerve-wracking situation? What question might you ask to someone met along the way? This is also an opportunity to challenge your personal and habitual thought processes. Especially in today’s society, adopting a positive outlook and open mind on differences and change is invaluable.
Inspire and Encourage. As the storyteller, you have the power to motivate your listener to embark on their own journey or tackle a goal they have desired to achieve for years but have never taken steps toward. And listeners, hearing stories can push you closer to your own dreams or even to build one to begin with.
Expand Your Mind. Most people are confined to their own town or community, which can be restricting. Travel stories offer a way out by transporting you from your own eyes to the eyes of another to “see” the world in new ways. To be a global citizen, you don’t have to travel the world, you simply need to respect the world. There is no universal definition, but a “global citizen” is someone who believes an individual’s identity is broader than their background or geographical location, and that their civic responsibility belongs to the group of all humans.
Because it’s Fun! As many of you already know, travel stories leave you craving more. They are a respite from the stress or chaos of daily life and make you feel like a child reading stories of faraway places.
Truly, the answer differs for every person. TWM founder Mike Schibel believes that “travel stories are important reminders of impactful and meaningful experiences… good, bad or AMAZING, these are stories that define us on our journey. Travel stories are just as important for the person sharing the story as it is for the people hearing the story. We all have our own experiences and sharing travel stories is a bigger way for strangers to connect, bond, and build community.”
But you don’t need us to tell you why else travel stories are enjoyable and important - you can figure that out for yourselves! As the world opens back up, these stories serve as an easy way to ease back into exploration or continue the journey in unthinkable ways.