How is life a journey
A world of a thousand horizons: How travel enriches our lives
69.6 million. I let this number melt on my tongue. The same moment I ate a slice of freshly baked bread with zatar. Where Zatar is a wonderfully tasting blend of spices from the Middle East and 69.6 million is the number of trips Germans made between 2005 and 2017. It was in the magazine of the airline I flew to Morocco with a few years ago. For less than 100 euros from a last apple spritzer in late autumn in Germany to Marrakech, where I drank my first real cup of mint tea shortly after arriving in a small family hotel. And by right I mean mint, which I don't even get in the supermarket I trust. Even if it is touted as such. At that moment I knew that I was one of the 69.6 million travelers. What I didn't know, however, was how my life would expand by 1,000 horizons after two weeks in front of the 1001 Nights backdrop.
Anyone who deals with the topics of travel and vacation will find all the statistics interesting. What is much more interesting on the second thought, however, is the fact that there is much more in those billions of dollars that are spent on travel every year than kerosene tax, hotel costs and the average price for a mojito on the beach. Because the real value of travel is its ideal value. As sticky and sweet as it sounds. Traveling, apart from the stress of packing and the long lines at the airport, is healthy and can make you healthier. Emotionally and physically. When we travel, we leave our holiday budget in Mexico, on the Müritz or in Milan - but what we take with us doesn't fit in a suitcase. Not even if we pay for excess baggage.
While we can experience miracles while traveling, it does not mean that travel can work miracles for us: Those who live unhealthily 350 days a year will not become a god of sport or a goddess of wellness in Greece as if by magic. Here too we should remain realistic. However, when I stood shoulder-deep in the lukewarm pool of water in an oriental bath, the world could have ended next to me - my blood pressure was at an ideal 60 too I don't care. Travel becomes really exciting and scientifically measurable when we combine it with learning. Whether a new language or a new sport does not matter - our brain is a sponge that can expand into unimagined widths with water from foreign waters. Great, isn't it?
The more we immerse ourselves in the language of a foreign country, the greater the chance that we will forget the catchphrases of our life at home for a certain period of time: everyday life? Never heard. Stress? What is that supposed to be? Exams? How do you write that? For a long time, maybe too long, I haven't really trusted the power of travel. I thought that the real recovery and the really positive effects on body and mind only begin when I fly halfway around the world like Julia Roberts in "Eat, Pray, Love". How wrong I was Travel is not defined by the two-week package holiday in the Balearic Islands, the luxury resort in the Maldives or two-month tracking in the Nepalese highlands - travel is always when we change location and indulge in the realities of a new culture, language and people unknown to us.
Travel is not always travel and vacation is not always vacation. Freelancers who don't like to travel for several weeks at a time already experience a boost in creativity when they go camping on the weekend. I read that on the train on the way to the Swiss mountains. Hence, this insight does not come from me, but from a study by neuroscientist David Strayer of the University of Utah.
And that's exactly what's great about traveling: It doesn't discriminate. Because you can travel by train, car, on foot, by boat or by plane. Traveling takes place with the body and the mind and is an experience with an incomparable profit-and-loss account: We gain courage, tolerance and, ideally, new friends. We lose prejudice, stress and, ideally, our hearts. The view of a sunset on Rügen, a street dog in New Delhi and the beautiful stranger in Cuba. Even if we want to keep our footprint small, pack our rucksack and let our legs carry us across the Camino, we make giant leaps emotionally with every journey.
By the way, zatar tastes like thyme, fennel and coriander. The spice mixture, when mixed with olive oil, leaves a fine film on the fingertips that you can simply wipe off your bare lower legs. You go swimming or swimming at some point anyway. Whether in the sea, in the pool, in the river or in the lake. Incidentally, the vacation a few years ago taught me that my new neighbors are not of Turkish but of Moroccan descent. I know that because I immediately recognized her accent on the stairwell. All right, and because shortly after they moved in they gave me a bag of fresh Moroccan mint and a small cup from Fez, which I've been using every morning since then.
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