In New York, I’m in total control. I know where to go and I’ve figured out what I like. But there’s no shortage of new places to check out in this ever-expanding city, so I never stop exploring it. In this way, New York feeds my love of travel. But it never quite satiates it. So when I get the itch to branch out, I go abroad.
I’m an “I’ll go wherever, whenever” kind of gal. Once I decide to get out of town for a stint, there’s no second guessing and no questioning how I will get things done.
Once I arrive in a foreign land, however, a bit of traveler’s anxiety tends to set it. I’ve been in France the last few weeks and I don’t speak the language or know my way around. In France, I’m an infant, wanting so badly to say something specific, but without the vocabulary to express myself accurately. At every shop, restaurant and pharmacy, I resort to gesturing maddeningly, but my hand tantrums only ever prove moderately effective.
It is of course humbling to ask your 10-year-old cousin to help you make rental car arrangements over the phone, but it’s also part of the fun of traveling to remove yourself from your comfort zone. The beauty of being outside the safety net of one’s homeland is that adventures inevitably arise from being displaced.
A simple trip to the market is just that in New York; in Provence, it ends up an hour-long journey through the the narrow, winding streets of a ridiculously charming town. And being unable to communicate can have surprisingly positive results. You can end up tasting a new food you didn’t exactly mean to order, or walking a path to a beautiful place you didn’t mean to ask for directions to.
At home, the excitement of the unknown is harder to come by. But it’s not impossible to find. The main benefit of traveling might just be to remind ourselves that it’s important to take the time to let ourselves get lost, wherever we are.
Featured image courtesy of Sarita Dan