Sorry, Ralph Waldo Emerson: Why the destination is better than the journey
The cliché that “life’s a journey, not a destination” has never felt exactly true to me. For years I did not even like to travel. To this day, flying makes me anxious. As a matter of fact, I don’t fit comfortably in most planes, buses or train seats. I am a bad packer; I like my creature comforts. And yet, I have become a collector of destinations, and have dedicated my life to brokering destinations for others.
For me, the destination justifies the — sometimes unpleasant — means of getting there. (Don’t worry, at Latin America for Less, we strive to make sure the means are amply pleasant, too!) Whether finding a moment of peace while exploring a hidden corner in Machu Picchu or feeling a breeze of inspiration while looking out over Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf at sunset, it has been the destination, more than the journey, that has enhanced my sense of connection to world.
Those who travel with an open heart experience these “destinations.” Sometimes, the sheer beauty and power of a place can overcome a traveler, bringing him or her to a new understanding of the world (e.g., check out this traveler’s over-the-top exuberance while visiting Iguazu Falls). Other times, the smaller moments, such as sharing a meal with a fellow traveler in an unadorned, empty restaurant, can sneak up on one, and in the blink of an eye you have landed somewhere you’ve never been before.
I don’t mean to knock the journey. After all, the journey is a celebration: of intuition, of not moving in a straight line, of keeping eyes open to the unexpected, of not always making the easy decision, and of being willing to push ahead in spite of discomfort, heartache or disappointment.
Matt perfecting the art of shooting blow darts in the Amazon. Target: unknown.
When people value the journey over the destination, what they really value is not the literal “route” that a person takes to a destination, but rather the decisions made and lessons learned along the way. While movement can be fun and valuable in its own right, it is strictly the destination, big or small, that has the capacity to shrink the inconsequential issues that too often become colossal in one’s life and remind you of what’s really important.
In short, finding new destinations gives you perspective. To echo the words of a wise yoga teacher in San Francisco, “The greatest lessons learned in my life have come from traveling.”
The first thing you need to do to understand how traveling can change your life is simple: go somewhere! It may be scary or inconvenient. But, it’s like bringing yourself back to being a kid. Remember the thrill of seeing a faraway place in a textbook or National Geographic? Now shred that image apart in your mind and decide to make that place a reality.
We at Latin America for Less are here to help you. Undoubtedly, travel has changed my life. My team and I are grateful for the opportunity to change your life, one trip at a time.
Monkey Business. Matt and his new little buddy in the Peruvian jungle.
Click here to contact Matt and his team of travel advisors, and plan your own adventure to Latin America.