Whenever I need to really recharge, mentally and physically I know the recipe for me: Travel. I highly recommend it to all.
My European and Australian friends already get it. They generally dedicate at least four weeks out of every year to “holiday” and are eager to see and learn of other cultures different than their own through regular travel outside of their own lands.
Most Americans are only allocated two weeks of paid vacation time plus sick days. In general, partly because of economics and partly through conditioning, it is less common, compared to European and Australian counterparts, to hear of Americans taking two plus weeks of vacation time consecutively to travel, within the US, let alone around the world.
I have the luxury of Miami as a second home, so I get the escape that so many Americans spend a nice sum on for a weekend getaway on a regular basis. The beach is my escape and I do not get cheated from the experience even though we often take for granted the resources of the places we call home.
As important as a few hours at the beach are at maintaining sanity in my life, it still does not provide the full re-charging that actual traveling provides. I have yet to adopt the European model of just taking off and traveling the world for 4 to 8 consecutive weeks. I have let the American way of work and career first, along with a sadly admitted thirst for materialism as well as responsibilities, hinder my real life goals of dedicated world travel.
I am more fortunate than most. I still generally get approximately eight 4-7 day trips out of the country per year. Regardless of whether there is a business component to any of the trips, I relish the opportunity to visit or revisit places that add so much depth and culture to the wealth of my life.
New York and Miami are cultural melting pots of diversity, compared to most of the United States. However, while I may have been exposed to other cultures living in those places, the pervasive and dominant American culture dilutes the interaction enough that the actual experience of visiting so many other countries gives such a different and authentic perspective to cultures I only thought I understood.
Whether I travel to the Caribbean to just lay on the beach and relax or journey to historical cultural icons like Paris or Florence where my days are exhausting from all the walking and sightseeing, the experience itself revitalizes every part of my being. The hyperbole aside, I search constantly for words to describe how important travel is to my soul. It’s an overloading of senses. It is a bridge of knowledge to history and culture. Most importantly it is a lifeline to providing perspective for my life and experiences in addition to gaining empathy and understanding for the different races and cultures that exist in our ever shrinking world.
It does not matter where you go. It doesn’t need to be outside of the country (though I highly recommend that option if available). Americans, in general, need to make travel a dedicated option to their lives on a more consistent basis. The different perspectives provided by new experiences can only help to bridge the gaps of cultural ignorance and misunderstandings.
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