In ancient times travel was pursued to escape hardship or as needed for the rich and powerful to explore strange lands for novelties. Back in the day, Columbus set out to look for spices to bring back to his countrymen. Religious groups crusaded to spread their philosophy. Travel must have been rough on ships, combating storms and seasickness. Today, it seems that we travel as a conscious choice to go out and enjoy ourselves because we know what to expect. The travel agent tells us exactly when we are going to arrive at our destination, what hotels are available and which restaurants are the best.
Popular vacation destinations such as Hawaii, France, or Spain have almost always been images of the exotic and beautiful place. There is a belief that only in a foreign land can we truly forget our troubles and passively observe the lives of others without any responsibilities. As long as the funds are in place to go and come back, we can afford to jump over to another country and live like kings and queens temporarily.
The multinational Ottoman Empire once spread across Southeast Europe and northern Africa. The empire was so powerful that it moved into the unknown regions with the confidence to expand their empire. We teach the names of those explorers and royal families in history books as those who ventured into strange lands and colonization was one word camouflaged in the guise of travel. The exploration itself was not reserved for royalty, but to hired explorers. Wealthy people didn’t want to do the travel themselves, since it wasn’t clear what was out there, an idea that makes some uncomfortable. But now that we have television, almost everyone knows they aren’t alone. There are other religions, races, cultures, and political groups in the world that are just as powerful. As people expanded their civilizations, they recruited soldiers to travel overseas to capture land.
These days, we travel because of advertising and cultural exchange. Colorful advertisements with palm trees and the enthralling architecture plaster the pages of magazines. People can eat food from all over the world in an array of restaurants started by people of different nationalities. The exotic nature of the food that uses new and interesting spices spurs a spark of curiosity to take a vacation from ourselves. We still import and export goods, but with more knowledge of what to expect given the availability of modern research.
As in the past, but we can go to the store to get those spices. In my experience, the curiosity I feel from all of the advertisements gets to the point where I yearn to see them, not just pick up a plate of teriyaki chicken from the nearest strip mall. I want to go live and work in that faraway place, but going to the store would be much cheaper commodity of an escape into the exotic. Personally, I travel for the reason that my family lives in different states. Also, when I was younger my family moved because of job transfers. There are all sorts of reasons to travel, but with the turn of the millennium, the foremost is leisure.