I’m standing in Trader Joe’s in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles looking at the ingredients of a carton of almond milk. My eyes glaze over as I realize I’m back in my routine. There’s always the inevitable "travel hangover" one gets for being away long enough for the brain to eject from its patterns. When I’m on the road or backpacking through the world, I’m only worried about three things:
- What am I going to eat?
- Where am I going to sleep?
- Who am I going to talk to? / What am I going to do?
When you’re back home in your comfort zone, these things are already taken care of. There is no growth when you’re in your warm and safe life pocket. In order to have daily adventures, we invent drama like “What color afghan would go well with this coffee table?” or “My barista spelled my name wrong on my latte, should I Instagram or Snapchat this?” or “I have to answer all of these emails today or my boss will be mad.” In the grand scope of your life, these things don’t matter. We create problems in an effort to create adventure, but the real adventure is out there. Getting out of the norm and challenging yourself with the unknown is the only way to grow and live.
Travel changes your mindset, increases your compassion, makes you grateful, and literally changes your neural pathways. When you travel, you think differently. And you’ll start to focus on the only things that are important in life: the quality of your health and the quality of your relationships.
According to this app, I’ve been to 40 of the 50 United States. America is deeply flawed with privatized healthcare, gun control laws, and the possibility that we may elect a celebrity as President, but we’re still the best country in the world. We have clean water, gender equality, democracy, and freedom. Sure I’m still planning on eventually moving to France, but I’ll always be proud that I’m from here and California will always be home. In a few more trips I’ll be able to say I’ve seen all of America, and I can’t wait to run my fingers through its amber waves of grain, camp on its purple mountain majesties, and eat from all of its fruited plains. But let’s be honest, it’s mostly the eating.