How do you feel about travelling in your own country?
I left Wales almost 11 years ago (to move to Barcelona and then London – then back to Barcelona, and on to Asturias) and have only visited home for a couple of weeks each year during this time.
These visits have always been about catching up with family and old friends, but as the years have passed I’ve felt a growing desire to explore more of my own country and heritage.
As the old saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and I definitely feel that my prolonged distance has gifted me we with a fresh perspective.
Clichéd I know, but true nonetheless…
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” ~ Dagobert D. Runes
I recently set off for a mini-adventure in Wales’ glorious Brecon Beacons and enjoyed it every bit as much as my travels in Spain’s paradise Cies Islands or on the path to Petra in Jordan.
How exciting it is to see your own land as if through the eyes of a foreigner, to explore natural beauty spots I can call my own. To be excited about Welsh cakes and Welsh lamb and Welsh whisky!
And how embarrassing that I’ve seen so much more of Spain, Italy and France than I have of my own country.
But it’s not only embarrassing. It’s potentially harmful, too…
What if the path to enlightenment actually starts and ends in our own back yard?
Socrates (or someone of a similar ilk) was once asked to distill all of the philosophical commandments into one sentence; to define the very meaning or goal of life as concisely as possible.
His answer: “Know thyself.”
I suppose our natural inclination would be to think we need to travel the world and experience all it has to offer in order to truly know ourselves, but I wonder if we’re looking at it the wrong way.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t travel abroad (I am a travel blogger after all!), but I am asking: how can we ever really know ourselves without knowing the place that formed us?
What if travelling more in our home countries (in my case Wales and the rest of the UK and Ireland) is the best way for us to ‘know thyself’, to find peace, inner fulfilment and, dare I say, enlightenment?
What if we could save the world simply by travelling more in our own countries?
It’s a difficult and possibly contentious topic to talk about here on a travel blog, but a topic that plays more and more on my mind.
We may not care to admit it, but air travel is undeniably one of the main contributors to our carbon footprints, and one of the biggest culprits when it comes to climate change.
Again, I’m not saying we should never travel abroad, but what if we simply replaced just one or two annual trips abroad with one or two staycations?
If you normally travel abroad, say, four times a year, you could halve your carbon footprint by 50% simply by replacing two of your trips with staycations.
Just imagine if everyone on the planet reduced their travel-related carbon footprint by 50%!
In a Nutshell
To summarise my thoughts, I’m starting to think maybe we can find the enlightenment we crave from foreign travel – or at least the fascinating culture, beautiful landscapes, interesting people and excellent food – in our own countries.
And we might even be able to save the planet in the process.
What do you think? Do you agree with any/some of these thoughts? I appreciate not everyone will agree with me, but I’d be keen to hear your thoughts either way! Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
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