‘Travel is the only thing that makes you richer.’ (Anonymous)
I’ve been traveling to France, more specifically to Paris, for 35+ years. My first visit was brief–3 days–and I was overwhelmed with ‘love’! Over the years, my passion didn’t diminish. I continued to grab as much time as I could with visits as short as two weeks and then even ones that allowed me to be there for months at a time or even as much as a year. Paris became like a second home for me, even without speaking French!
I haven’t tackled learning the language for a variety of reasons. Although that can be a hindrance on a few levels, it has also allowed me to experience the ‘kindness of strangers’. Not knowing the language in my travels doesn’t usually seem a barrier to my pleasure and exposure to a ‘foreign’ land. I am such a visual person that my eyes keep me so busy, there are times I’m at a loss for words….in English!
In a complicated situation, with more recent technology now, of course, the translator on my phone does come in handy. I have also been known to turn up the volume a bit and ask if anyone speaks English, in a doctor’s waiting room, for instance, yet, more often than not, someone has already offered to assist me. I mention this only because I know some people are hesitant to travel without knowing the language of the country. So, you can imagine my advice..‘Don’t let it stop you.‘
I would also like to point out: I am female, often travel solo, and am well qualified to be of the age where I have less years ahead of me than behind me. These factors may also restrict some travelers’ adventures. However my mantra/motto is: ‘Do it NOW, while you can!’
I will add though, I do have a ‘caution’ button, restricting myself to situations I assess to be safe and secure, physically and emotionally. Do I miss out on some adventures that others might consider challenging? Yes, I am certain that is true.
But this is when I consider the balance of benefits vs. risks. I don’t want to miss out on teachable moments. Yet, I do allow my female intuition to come into play.
I am, primarily, a travel consultant for visitors to Paris. Yet, I know that oft times travelers combine Paris with other places of interest. And, in the last several years, while in Europe, I also like to divvy up my time to other superb locations I have not frequented and that allows me to suggest other locales for my clients.
Pico Iyer in a Salon article: And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.