Which place, which person, which wonder would you like to discover next?
By John Morris
Wanderlust. An impulse which has lived within humanity since history was first recorded. It inspires within us an immense desire to discover the world and explore the unknown. Some might say that its strength has withered with the dawn of technology, mobile phones, the internet and social media.
And yet, in the approaching months of summer, airplanes, trains and cruise ships will be filled to capacity. While a simple internet search can yield breathtaking photographs of every sight known to man, viewing an image of an object, building or city does not quench our natural thirst for personal discovery. The allure of an experience is just that — the ability to experience something.
Last year, I traveled to Beijing and visited the Great Wall of China for the first time. According to the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” my hundred or so photographs from that day should have more than summarized my experience there. Those images cannot convey the fullness of that day. The texture of the wall’s stone structure, the blowing breeze, and the atmosphere created by the hundreds of Chinese people encountering their national treasure for the first time. They do not depict the beauty of the experience and my joy of being at the center of it.
We often take photographs to remind us of a moment, to awaken a memory. The photographs I took bring me back there, to a memory that is unique to me and cannot be accessed by anyone else. We travel to create experiences that we will remember, collections of moments in which we see, feel, taste, touch and hear. Wanderlust can be satisfied only by engaging each of our senses and forming moments that create memories to last forever.
Beyond our traditional senses, though, we must also reach into our minds and intellect. In Beijing and at the Great Wall, I had countless conversations with fellow travelers, locals and expatriates. These conversations not only reinforced my appreciation of China, but sparked new ideas for future exploration and adventure. Travel is often filled with joy because it helps to open our world beyond the area in which we live. It forces us to encounter that which is not familiar and challenges us to grow in our perception of the world, its people and the nature of our own lives.
While most places we visit will not feature a Wonder of the Ancient or Modern World, each trip we take leads us closer to an understanding that the people and cultures on this Earth are each wonders in their own right. Which place, which person, which wonder would you like to discover next? Through this column, I hope to inspire your wanderlust and impart some wisdom on making the most of your travel experiences.
John Morris is twice a graduate of The Florida State University and is now a corporate travel consultant. He is the founder of WheelchairTravel.org, which provides the information disabled travelers need to plan accessible trips or vacations. He is driven by a desire to help open your world.