The human is one species that has evolved considerably – physically, mentally, spiritually and socially – through the instrument of travel. Tourism, travel, hospitality – these and their associated ecosystems have emerged to fulfill mankind’s primal need to travel. But why do people travel?
Whether it’s for business, entertainment, relaxation, new experiences or discovering oneself – travel is fundamental to human evolution. While taking a trip to Finland in December may not help you grow fur, travel shapes the brain and your genetics in ways that sitting in your air-conditioned office can never do.
When we travel to an entirely new place, we are completely out of our comfort zone. The spaces we live in, the environments we experience, the languages we hear and struggle to respond to – challenge what we know and don’t. In response to this forced engagement, we evolve rapidly. We become inventive, we dispel unhealthy beliefs and practices; we overcome the fear that comes from not knowing, we become more aware of our own insignificance. We return with gratitude, a deeper understanding of ourselves, more space in our previously cluttered brain and hopefully, good memories (even the bad ones make for nostalgia).
Across a broad range of species, research found that for a major change to persist and for changes to accumulate – i.e. evolution - takes about one million years. Of course, this evolution is identified in physical terms. I believe we are evolving every minute – and a purpose of life is to find occasions to nurture that evolution. Travel is one such opportunity – a gift to ourselves and the generations we are responsible for.
Now if only the flights would take off.