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Travel: The Ultimate Investment in Experiences and Understanding

“What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” –  Xunzi (340 – 245 BC).

I would add: What I hear, see, and do is an experience. Experiences create feelings, and feelings are what will separate us from the coming wave of artificial intelligence. I might even argue that true intelligence does not exist without feelings.

Everything we do can produce feelings. Without question, what we do with others creates the most intense feelings.

I was touring an area on the Florida/Georgia border a few years ago.

The area is filled with natural wonder and history. Our tour guide and boat captain was fantastic at ensuring we didn’t miss anything. I noticed that even in the middle of up-close views of nature, there were several people with their faces buried in their “smart” phones. Apparently, our guide noticed it too. Using a loudspeaker, he said, “Be sure your attention is to the left side of the boat…this would be a good time to get your head out of your apps.”

I recently had the opportunity to travel abroad.

I visited Rome, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Much of what I saw was familiar to me through what I had read. The days of actually being there gave me a much better understanding and to my high school European History teacher, I apologize for even thinking what you taught was a waste of time.

Many individuals save and invest for the opportunity to travel. I would suggest that travel can be an investment in itself. A slick advertisement would help you justify the cost of travel by saying something like “Invest in yourself.” Really, if you can afford to travel, you should. Furthermore, if you can afford to take your adult kids and their kids along, go for it.

Travel doesn’t need to be high-end to be enjoyable.

In fact, sometimes, the low-end stuff is fantastic. Six of us set out to walk parts of The Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain a few years back. To avoid an unpleasant conversation with my wife, I must admit that while the four women in the group actually walked nearly 100 miles, I and the other “pack mules” were responsible for loading and unloading the vehicle. We also were required to scope out the next place to stay. This included my daily Spanish lesson (not to brag, but I can now say “dos cervezas” with barely a trace of an American accent).

This “Way of St. James” is a network of pilgrims’ ways leading to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

On our route from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela, we had a “mix-up” in our lodging arrangements. With the help of locals, we secured housing for the night in a nearby monastery. Our accommodations were modest, clean, and very inexpensive. Although this was not part of the planned route, it led us to a nearby church where a service was being held for the Pilgrims walking the Camino. While some in the group spoke Spanish, others did not. A nun translated the service into English. At the end of the service, we were presented with a colorful paper star as a reminder of our journey. A blessing was given to each of us individually. The experience evoked tears, understandably for some and less so for others.

As you can see, this was, in fact, no “mix-up” at all. I don’t recall the cost of this trip or how many Euros we spent to stay the night in that monastery. What I do remember is that it was an incredible investment.

Some travel requires significant mobility, while others travel much less. It’s worth a conversation with a good travel agent to explore options.

As always, feel free to call to discuss this and perhaps make a withdrawal for that trip with the kids.

August 2023

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