February 19, 2013
Shortly after the idea for Traverst came to fruition, I email blasted all the people in my life who: 1) I think are rad, 2) are worldly in some way, and 3) I had a record for in my contacts list. I reached out to these friends mostly to let them know about the new project I was working on, but asked all of them to do me one, simple favor in that email:
Right now I need ALL OF YOU to hit your reply button and tell me what travel means to you, in one word. It can be the first word you think of, what inspires you about travel, a memory you have - anything. ONE WORD REPLY. The easiest favor ever.
I got about a 50% response rate. Not too shabby. Of those 50%, about 5% responded with enthusiasm, but no travel word, and two of those responders expressed interest, but simultaneous confusion about how they were supposed to respond to my email: “This is awesome! But, I don’t get it. What do you want me to do?” Yes, these were college graduates - one even has a law degree.
I compiled the answers I received and turned them into the trendy word cloud above. This image is extremely moving and emotional for me. It’s a representation of people in the world, who are in my life and whom I regard highly, and their relationships with my biggest passion in life: travel. It’s a peep into their brains, souls, pasts and futures in the world we inhabit. It’s a flash of understanding into their perspectives and priorities in life. It’s powerful.
I mean, look at these suckers: Transcendence. Freedom. Escape. People were dropping some serious bombs! But all corniness aside, one of my biggest goals in life is to preserve and promote these feelings about and relationships with travel. Whether it’s encouraging every college student I come in contact with to study abroad, or nudging a co-worker to fulfill his dreams and move to the West Coast, I recognize the rewards that exploration brings and want to spread the gospel to all of those who will listen.
For most people, I don’t think a bus/boat combo tour of Boston equals “inspirational.” I’m pretty sure that while sauntering down the Hollywood walk of fame, not many folks experience “freedom” or “escape.” And I doubt I’d ever hear someone describe Graceland as “invigorating.” When people travel they want to experience the “new”, see the “light”, and feel the “freedom” through different cultures, unfamiliar tastes, and authentic places. Realness is what visitors crave and seek from interactions with locals while traversing foreign lands, languages, and customs. These are the experiences that create long-lasting impressions and open a traveler’s eyes to the world’s diversity. This is the kind travel I want to share. Throughout my journey ahead, I hope to preserve and share all of travel’s many meanings for those people who shared their feelings with me, and to support and celebrate travelers around the world who recognize the power of
And in an effort to keep that commitment, I now ask:
In one word, what does travel mean to you?