The Best Thing About Traveling Is . . .

unnamed-1Everyone has their own reasons for enjoying travel. Whether it’s visiting family, trying new foods, enjoying and experiencing nature, shopping, sightseeing or just having time to relax, we all find our reasons to anticipate and enjoy the places we visit.

In no particular order, here are the main reasons I love to travel:

Kaki gori - Japanese shave ice
Fluffy, cool and refreshing kaki gori – Japanese-syle shaved ice with fresh fruit sauce
  • Eating: While it’s not always the top reason I get excited about visiting someplace, I always enjoy trying new foods, and being able to try authentic foods and recipes. I love being able to eat things that I can’t fix or find at home, like Navajo tacos in the southwest, steamed crab in San Francisco, dumplings in China, lobster rolls in New England or conch fritters in Key West. If possible, before we go somewhere I like to check out restaurants in the area we’re visiting, read reviews, and peruse menus if possible. The absolute best part about eating when we travel? I don’t have to plan, prepare, or clean up after any of our meals!

    A walk through a different neighborhood can reveal beautiful sights!
    Simple beauty in a residential neighborhood
  • Sightseeing: Depending on where we’re going, this can either be a high priority, or fall very far down the list of things to do. I’ve never maintained a bucket list or such of places or things I “have to see before I die” but I have been fortunate to see many sights that no picture can ever do justice, like the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Great Wall of China, and just about every place in Kyoto to name a few. While I enjoy sightseeing and visiting famous, historic or scenic places and museums, I’m also very happy wandering through local neighborhoods and checking out houses, markets or other aspects of daily life. These areas might not be well-known, but there is a lot to discover and observe, and memories to be made.

    Sightseeing, Japan-style (photo by Linda, my wonderful S-I-L)
    Visiting Kyoto,  Japan-style (photo by Linda, my wonderful S-I-L)
  • People watching: This may be the thing I love most about travel. I am an inveterate people watcher and can happily sit for long stretches to observe what’s going on around me. It doesn’t matter where I am, but I love seeing how people interact, how business is conducted, and how the routines of daily life play out, whether I’m in a foreign country or home in the United States. For example, I still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to understanding Japanese culture, but I enjoy watching two people interact with each other to figure out who has the higher status (based on how they bow to each other). Every trip is a cultural adventure, and I always learn something new each time I travel, something I can tuck away and remember for the future or that furthers my understanding of the local culture.

    Sharing a crepe with my grandson at Harajuku
    Sharing a crepe with my grandson at Harajuku
  • Spending time with family: Whether it’s visiting family in Japan, or traveling with Brett and the girls, or with our son when he was young, I love, love, love making memories with my family. There’s nothing as wonderful as experiencing some place through the eyes of your children or grandchildren, no matter their age, and hearing their reactions and thoughts about what they’re seeing and doing.

    I love coming home to Kaua'i!
    I love coming home to Kaua’i!
  • Coming home: This aspect of traveling has taken on a whole new dimension since we moved to Hawai’i :). Arriving home on Kaua’i is like finishing up one vacation with another.

What don’t I enjoy about travel? I’m not a big fan of air travel, but accept it’s a necessary part of any travel experience for us these days. Car travel is still, for the most part, an enjoyable experience, maybe even more so now since we don’t often get the opportunity. Souvenir shopping has also lost most of its thrill for me, but my daughters still enjoy it so it’s still a part of our travels wherever we go.

So, what about traveling do you love?