Travel is...

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ITN asked its readers for essays centered on the subject “Travel is. . .” in 250 words or less. Small prizes were offered for the best five. We were hit by a flood of responses — and the writing was so good, we decided to increase the number of prize winners and print not just the top five but the top 10.

We selected for judges three well-read people: Steve Venables, owner of the travel agency Woodland Travel in Woodland, California; ITN Associate Editor Mary Beltran, and the very well-traveled retired attorney Judith Anshin of Sacramento.

I stopped in the room while the voting was going on and one of the judges said, “This isn’t easy.” My reply was, “If I thought it was going to be easy, I would have done it myself.”

Printed below are five of the top 10 essays, presented in no particular order. The other five will appear in the April issue (the authors are being contacted by mail). To those whose fine efforts did not make it to the top rung, I would point out that it’s all subjective and a different three judges may have picked yours!

Thanks to all of you who submitted essays. You really let the creative juices flow!

— Armond Noble, Publisher, ITN

Travel is rebirth. At the moment of departure, I begin to see the world with fresh eyes. It matters not the destination nor mode of transportation. The mere fact of leaving the comforts of home and venturing out is enough to stimulate my senses. Like a newborn baby I begin to smell exotic aromas and hear alien sounds. Astonished, my eyes glimpse the variegated colors in a fresh atmosphere. I am transported into a world of sensory excitation. My skin feels the warmth of the hot sun, the chill of the cold rain or the coolness of the fresh breeze. It matters not the climate. I feel it anew. I have shed the clothes of my safe embryonic environment and plunged into their world. I journey into their new world. I step with their tempo. I walk to their rhythm. I feel what they feel. I speak with their tongue. And when I return to my home, I understand with all my soul the sensibilities of this other world and its unique people. I discover we are one family, after all.

Lynn Gottlob, Beachwood, OH

Travel is the glue that secures the connection between the past and the present. It helps us interpret what we read and observe. It prevents us from believing that our way is the only way. It humbles us.

Along the way, travel pleases our senses and challenges our tastes while it motivates us to stay fit in order not to miss the next great experience.

There is no substitute!

Grace Lantis, Clinton Township, MI

Travel is exposure. Exposure to people, places, food and climate; another world removed from one’s day-to-day existence.

Travel is tolerance of the unexpected, being able to accept unique customs, politics and ethics.

Travel is beauty, enjoying the wonders that nature has hidden.

Travel is laughter, hearing the many languages of the world but being able to speak the universal language of laughter. Sharing an experience with someone in a foreign land over something funny that just happened.

Travel is music, this being able to transport you even faster then a Boeing 747 to foreign lands. The music of Greece, Turkey and Japan all unique and all invoking images of faraway places.

Travel is knowledge, researching your destination, collecting maps, hunting for the right guidebook and doing all the one hundred and one things that will make your trip perfect.

Travel is the hassle of lugging a suitcase through airports, and also walking the miles and miles up and down confusing concourses looking for the correct gate but not being able to read the signs.

Travel is all of the above: exposure, tolerance, beauty, laughter, music, knowledge and the hassles. Travel is not one word but many combined, not one experience but many. It is an experience that my husband and I have been fortunate to have had, and we look forward to more travel adventures to come.

Sandra Michael, Los Altos, CA

Travel is like falling in love. There’s a bit of fear of the unknown, the tingle of anticipation, the thrill of connecting with the new, the bliss of learning and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Travel is truly knowing that all people are human beings. The Bhutanese in native dress, the elegant Parisienne, the Moroccan in a djellabah are the same as we; they laugh, cry, love, dislike, complain, eat, sleep, bleed.

Travel is learning that difference in cultures can still provide sameness. We may worship as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or Baha’i, yet there is acknowledgment of a Supreme Being. Different forms, different ideas; still, we all know we are mortal.

Travel is experiencing what diverse cultures have to offer. Eating with your right hand or chopsticks still gets the food to your mouth. If sheep brains are not your idea of a gourmet meal, how interesting to find out that for some in Greece it is. If you love to walk around without a shirt or in sandals and shorts, it is educational to find out you’re thought of as disgusting in Oman.

Travel is discovering that even without a common language, you can communicate with a Cambodian shopkeeper, a restaurant owner in Moravia, a fellow train passenger in Russia.

Travel is finding out how much a smile can mean. Travel is the greatest memory builder we will ever have. Travel is a gift to be greatly treasured; we must use it wisely and share the benefits.

Barbara Malley, New York, NY

Travel is my teacher.

Travel introduces me to many people through whose eyes I see a kaleidoscope of shapes and a rainbow of colors different than those in my daily life.

• A young Indian boy, born into poverty, smiles at me as he splashes water upon himself with an old plastic jug. He teaches me a lesson in simplicity.

• A middle-aged Englishman with long blond hair stands on a village street, playing a melodious tune on his handheld harp. He teaches me a lesson in peace.

• Two little Guatemalan sisters sit in front of their thatched adobe hut, huddled together in a tight embrace. They teach me a lesson in love.

• Young, tall and slender Kenyan warriors jump high into the air, dancing to the drumbeats of their friends. They teach me a lesson in community.

• Two Russian grandmothers, faces wrinkled from years of hard work, blend their voices as they sing an old folk song after dinner. They teach me a lesson in joy.

By sharing in the lives of these and other people whom I have visited, even for brief moments of travel, I have become more in tune with our world. My prejudices have dispelled slowly. I am humbled. And my vision has changed — forever.

Jim Hendrickson, Bellingham, WA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

ITN asked its readers for essays centered on the subject “Travel is. . .” in 250 words or less. Small prizes were offered for the best five. We were hit by a flood of responses — and the writing was so good, we decided to increase the number of prize winners and print not just the top five but the top 10.

We selected for judges three well-read people: Steve Venables, owner of the travel agency Woodland Travel in Woodland, California; ITN Associate Editor Mary Beltran, and the very well-traveled retired attorney Judith Anshin of Sacramento.

I stopped in the room while the voting was going on and one of the judges said, “This isn’t easy.” My reply was, “If I thought it was going to be easy, I would have done it myself.”

Printed below are five of the top 10 essays, presented in no particular order. The other five will appear in the April issue (the authors are being contacted by mail). To those whose fine efforts did not make it to the top rung, I would point out that it’s all subjective and a different three judges may have picked yours!

Thanks to all of you who submitted essays. You really let the creative juices flow!

— Armond Noble, Publisher, ITN

Travel is rebirth. At the moment of departure, I begin to see the world with fresh eyes. It matters not the destination nor mode of transportation. The mere fact of leaving the comforts of home and venturing out is enough to stimulate my senses. Like a newborn baby I begin to smell exotic aromas and hear alien sounds. Astonished, my eyes glimpse the variegated colors in a fresh atmosphere. I am transported into a world of sensory excitation. My skin feels the warmth of the hot sun, the chill of the cold rain or the coolness of the fresh breeze. It matters not the climate. I feel it anew. I have shed the clothes of my safe embryonic environment and plunged into their world. I journey into their new world. I step with their tempo. I walk to their rhythm. I feel what they feel. I speak with their tongue. And when I return to my home, I understand with all my soul the sensibilities of this other world and its unique people. I discover we are one family, after all.

Lynn Gottlob, Beachwood, OH

Travel is the glue that secures the connection between the past and the present. It helps us interpret what we read and observe. It prevents us from believing that our way is the only way. It humbles us.

Along the way, travel pleases our senses and challenges our tastes while it motivates us to stay fit in order not to miss the next great experience.

There is no substitute!

Grace Lantis, Clinton Township, MI

Travel is exposure. Exposure to people, places, food and climate; another world removed from one’s day-to-day existence.

Travel is tolerance of the unexpected, being able to accept unique customs, politics and ethics.

Travel is beauty, enjoying the wonders that nature has hidden.

Travel is laughter, hearing the many languages of the world but being able to speak the universal language of laughter. Sharing an experience with someone in a foreign land over something funny that just happened.

Travel is music, this being able to transport you even faster then a Boeing 747 to foreign lands. The music of Greece, Turkey and Japan all unique and all invoking images of faraway places.

Travel is knowledge, researching your destination, collecting maps, hunting for the right guidebook and doing all the one hundred and one things that will make your trip perfect.

Travel is the hassle of lugging a suitcase through airports, and also walking the miles and miles up and down confusing concourses looking for the correct gate but not being able to read the signs.

Travel is all of the above: exposure, tolerance, beauty, laughter, music, knowledge and the hassles. Travel is not one word but many combined, not one experience but many. It is an experience that my husband and I have been fortunate to have had, and we look forward to more travel adventures to come.

Sandra Michael, Los Altos, CA

Travel is like falling in love. There’s a bit of fear of the unknown, the tingle of anticipation, the thrill of connecting with the new, the bliss of learning and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Travel is truly knowing that all people are human beings. The Bhutanese in native dress, the elegant Parisienne, the Moroccan in a djellabah are the same as we; they laugh, cry, love, dislike, complain, eat, sleep, bleed.

Travel is learning that difference in cultures can still provide sameness. We may worship as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or Baha’i, yet there is acknowledgment of a Supreme Being. Different forms, different ideas; still, we all know we are mortal.

Travel is experiencing what diverse cultures have to offer. Eating with your right hand or chopsticks still gets the food to your mouth. If sheep brains are not your idea of a gourmet meal, how interesting to find out that for some in Greece it is. If you love to walk around without a shirt or in sandals and shorts, it is educational to find out you’re thought of as disgusting in Oman.

Travel is discovering that even without a common language, you can communicate with a Cambodian shopkeeper, a restaurant owner in Moravia, a fellow train passenger in Russia.

Travel is finding out how much a smile can mean. Travel is the greatest memory builder we will ever have. Travel is a gift to be greatly treasured; we must use it wisely and share the benefits.

Barbara Malley, New York, NY

Travel is my teacher.

Travel introduces me to many people through whose eyes I see a kaleidoscope of shapes and a rainbow of colors different than those in my daily life.

• A young Indian boy, born into poverty, smiles at me as he splashes water upon himself with an old plastic jug. He teaches me a lesson in simplicity.

• A middle-aged Englishman with long blond hair stands on a village street, playing a melodious tune on his handheld harp. He teaches me a lesson in peace.

• Two little Guatemalan sisters sit in front of their thatched adobe hut, huddled together in a tight embrace. They teach me a lesson in love.

• Young, tall and slender Kenyan warriors jump high into the air, dancing to the drumbeats of their friends. They teach me a lesson in community.

• Two Russian grandmothers, faces wrinkled from years of hard work, blend their voices as they sing an old folk song after dinner. They teach me a lesson in joy.

By sharing in the lives of these and other people whom I have visited, even for brief moments of travel, I have become more in tune with our world. My prejudices have dispelled slowly. I am humbled. And my vision has changed — forever.

Jim Hendrickson, Bellingham, WA