The desire to travel...where does it come from and how does it shape us? When I heard this story on NPR about Harry "Hawk" McGinnis it caused me to think about why I enjoy traveling its impact on my life.
Much like Hawk I used to read National Geographic and gaze at the amazing photographs that accompanied the stories of cultures that seemed impossible to reach from my small town in rural Virginia. My family made regular trips to museums, D.C. wasn't too far from us and their willingness to visit the Smithsonian at the drop of a hat kept my desire to experience other cultures and places quite active. I had my first taste of international travel while in high school, when I made two trips to Mexico.
Travel isn't limited to international destinations. I've been blessed to spend much time all over the Eastern cost of the US, with the most frequent destination being Maine. I didn't resume international travel until 2004 when I began traveling regularly to Lebanon. While in college (and throughout my graduate studies) I spent most of my time with international students, energized by the diversity and cultural richness I was surrounded by. Soon I will be moving to Beirut to work as a social worker, a career move that has been greatly impacted by my previous travel experiences.
Now, back to Hawk. If you haven't had the chance to check out the NPR story yet allow me to share a little bit of trivia with you...he is 82 years old. His preferred mode of travel is his own two feet, and in his own strength he has walked all 50 States, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Currently Hawk is in Ecuador, but he has already spent considerable time in South and Central America.
On his website Hawk has three questions, Who am I? Why am I here? And, where am I going? For some of us travel is more than just a vacation or a break, it is a way of living and an existential experience that may last a lifetime. What does travel mean to you, how did you get started traveling, and how does it impact who you are and what you do?