Posted by: L.J. Popp | February 28, 2013

10 Reasons You Should Travel

Here’s a teaser for a recent post I wrote for a friend. The entire post will hopefully be on her blog, beautiful absurdity, tomorrow. Check it out!

Expand Your Happiness

            Studies show that people who try new things, learn, and adapt have overall happier lives. Also, we get a lot of joy from memories. Though traveling might not always be pleasant at the time, when we look back, what seemed hard becomes funny, and we can honestly say, “I’m glad I did that.”  Be sure to take lots of pictures, or write in a journal.

Climbing from crawl

Emerging from the wild cave tour at Cosmic Caverns, Arkansas

Expand Your Pallet

There are so many foods I wouldn’t have tried had I never traveled! Jelly fish, barbequed sting ray, fresh water lobster and the world’s rarest coffee are probably on the top of my list. The coffee in particular was a stretch, since its rarity arises from the fact that it comes from a small island off the coast of Java. It passes through the gut of an animal called the civic cat before the partially digested beans are hand collected by natives and roasted.  But it was the best coffee I’ve ever had!

You do have to know your own limits, though. Before living in India, I assumed all spice was the same. I loved Mexican spices, but in Bangalore I ended up with a two-day belly ache that confined me to my bed and the bathroom. I also had to say no to raw horse in Japan and dog in Korea. But if you can stomach it, be sure to try the local delicacy wherever you go. Food is half the fun of travel!

BBQ Fish

Singapore specialty: BBQ fish and stingray on banana leaf

Expand Your Faith

One of the hardest things to explain to my friends back home was why I spent a weekend in a Buddhist temple meditating. I had never before set foot in a temple and had no desire to become Buddhist, but I wanted to understand my Asian friends and be able to talk about their religion and world-view. Likewise, I got a whole new perspective and appreciation for my Christian faith from joining a small Japanese church and another later in India. These churches provided me with a family away from home and a sense of familiarity amongst all the newness. At the same time, seeing a different expression of familiar things in a fresh context can bring new insights.

Cross on island (probably use)

Island of the Martyrs near Nagasaki, Japan

Expand Your Nature

I believe the heart and soul of a nation is in its rural roots, so I always feel I haven’t seen the “real face” of a country until I’ve visited a national park, famous mountain, jungle, secluded temple, tea plantation or a simple rice farm. I also find the local people friendly and helpful. An added benefit is that staying in a secluded place can be far more peaceful and cheaper than the city. The only downside can be finding frequent and efficient transportation, so especially for developing countries, this should probably be researched in advance.

59 teered rice fields

Tiered Rice Fields of Kumano, Japan

 

Expand Your Heart

            There are two other “faces” of a country: the touristy, glamour side and the part everyone would rather hide. Instead of shying away from slums or disaster-stricken areas, I see these as golden opportunities to experience the full breadth of a country and to give back to a place I’ve learned to love. Going on a team with an accredited, experienced non-profit organization keeps volunteering safe with maximum benefit for everyone. These “mission trips” have changed my life and broadened my perspectives more than anything else.

73.25 Building houses in India77 girls preparing to work

Building homes in India            Cleaning up after the 2011 tsunami

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