What Travel Means to Me

Eleanore Dykes

December 21, 2019

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Paris - Notre Dame.JPG

There is a saying that goes, “Travel far, travel often.” But as nice as that idea might sound, travel does come with some practical realities that can make it difficult to go “far and often.”

Travel is not just a pleasure, but a privilege. At one point in time, I did not have enough discretionary income to be able to afford a trip anywhere, even home for the holidays. But opportunity happens where means and desire meet, and through some pay raises at work, saving my annual bonuses and tax returns, and adopting a simpler way of living (such as grocery shopping and cooking at home versus eating out and taking public transportation to work), I was at last able to have enough money to start traveling. Although that is no longer the case, even so, I try to treat each chance for travel that comes along with gratitude and a sense of wonder, to not take for granted what was once out of reach for me.

After all, who would have thought that a girl from Billings, Montana would find herself sailing across the Caribbean Sea on a sun-soaked catamaran bound for Isla Mujeres, gazing up at the majestic Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, or clambering along the basalt columns that form the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland?

And while there are certainly costs that must be factored in – airfare and baggage fees, hotels, sightseeing excursions – what travel offers us in return is something that can’t be quantified. Travel allows us to connect, to explore, to experience adventure in

unexpected places and allow ourselves to be inspired by different cultures and landscapes. It can open our minds to different ways of seeing, of thinking, of being. It helps us break out of our routines and patterns, forces us to reawaken and engage our senses – there are new sights, new sounds, new smells, new tastes. In the process, we are woven together by the moments and memories that we share, creating a rich tapestry of community– transcending geographic boundaries and language.

For me, travel represents freedom, independence, growth. Not that long ago, the very idea of flight was one that was dreamed of but as yet untested. Perhaps since the story of Icarus, humankind has seemingly longed to take to the skies in flight, to move, to soar. Airplanes make travel around the world possible – it is an open passport book, waiting to be stamped. Throughout history, people have crisscrossed the globe, most likely because of practical reasons such as climate, food, and shelter, but perhaps they were also driven by something more than instinct, a burning of the soul that yearns to discover what lies beyond the edges of the map.

I found my own soul stirred by this same fire when I took my first international trip with my sister when I graduated from college, spending a week in London and Paris to celebrate. It was an ambitious itinerary, but I like to do and see as much as I can while I am in a place, to be passionate and curious in my adventure-seeking. And we saw it all – the Houses of Parliament,

Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre (including the Mona Lisa – standing in a jostling, frenetic crowd until it was our turn to snap a few quick photos of the diminutive yet über-famous Renaissance masterpiece which, at the time of our visit, was protected behind a velvet rope and glass, a security guard standing solemnly nearby), Sacre Coeur, the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Ladurée shop with its pastel-colored confections. While to some these sights might seem too “touristy,” to me they represented a manifestation of places that before I had only ever seen in photographs or movies.


It was during this first journey abroad that I was bitten by the proverbial travel bug, for no sooner had I returned home than I was already dreaming of new destinations. More trips quickly followed: New Orleans, Oregon, Maine, Cancun, Dublin, San Francisco, Boston. Now, having tasted just a sampling of the flavors that the world has to offer, there are so many more places that I hunger to know and see – Egypt, Greece, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Amsterdam. I’m sure my bags won’t stay unpacked for long. 


Eleanore is a twenty-something currently residing in Chicago where she works as a corporate project assistant at a global law firm. Her freelance work has also been published on Thought Catalog. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, travel, fitness, and listening to political podcasts. You can follow her on Instagram at @eleanorechristine or LinkedIn

Eleanore Dykes


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