Why change is a beautiful thing and why you should travel right now

How many among us have made the trek back to a favorite destination of years past and realized that, well, it just isn’t the same anymore? The bus drops us off in the sleepy surf town we remember fondly from our first backpacking adventure and we wonder where that Roxy store came from. We hop off of planes and out of cabs and are amazed to see teenagers, clad in jeans and Abercrombie t-shirts, hanging out at Mcdonald’s where women in Saris used to dole out samosas from a road side stand. Dirt roads that once flooded with every rain are now paved and outfitted with perfectly placed gutters. Little girls who used to sell flowers are now young women, married, and calling after children of their own- children who will never sell flowers to help their families make ends meet.


We sit in our favorite restaurants and coffee shops (because, thankfully, some of those are still standing) and reminisce about the crazy party hostel that once stood where the Marriott now towers and the place on the corner where you used to be able to by a $1 beer to enjoy while you watched the sunset on the beach. We whisper that the taxi drivers have certainly figured out how to fleece the tourists and pray that the charm that has always made this place special doesn’t get erased completely. Mostly, we are just happy that we saw this place as it was, way back, before all the change happened.


Sometimes it’s sad to return to a place and realize just how much has changed. You miss what you have romanticized and forget about that miserable night you got infested with bed bugs at that crazy party hostel. There is something very human in the desire to return to a place you “know” and wrap yourself in the comfort of familiarity. Change can wreak havoc on that comfort.


But there is a wonderful side to all of that change. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things that traveling affords us is the ability to see the world for the ever evolving organism that it is. Yes, things change. Yes, things we remember and love may not always be there.  But isn’t that knowledge actually wonderful? It reminds us that the world is only “as it is” for this moment. It will never be like this again. We can wait until “someday” to travel or we can do it right now, knowing that “someday” will never look like today. As an added bonus, we can travel today AND “someday”, and our experiences will be inexplicably similar and different all at once.


The only real certainty is change. Travel gives us space to explore what that change means (and looks like). Eyes that have come and gone and come back again have the privilege of seeing change in a comparative manner. Minds that have explored new places and returned have the ability to put change into a global context and see history playing out before their eyes. Individuals that have returned have the opportunity to discover how change might even be shaped by the most positive and intentional parts of our collective humanity. We are so very lucky to see our world, as it is, no matter what it looks like in this moment. Because what is right now, is ours- just for this moment. There are no guarantees that it will ever look, fell, or pulse exactly like this again.


The world is changing, as it always has. So, then this is the perfect time to get up and explore our world. You wouldn’t want to miss what it looks like right now, would you?

Posted by | Comments (4)  | August 21, 2014
Category: Ethical Travel, Ethics

4 Responses to “Why change is a beautiful thing and why you should travel right now”

  1. Stephen Says:

    A compelling argument for the importance of remembering to live in the moment rather than reminiscing over what once was.

  2. JC Says:

    Couldn’t agree more… instead of worrying about facebooking or instagraming every little moment, we need to actually LIVE those moments..

  3. Richard Silver Says:

    Very nice thought! It’s true that nowadays the world is changing every day. Your article gives me the feeling to go away to stop thinking about work for a while. Basically, you can see how time flies on your children and in the mirror. Suddenly, you are not that young guy anymore. And it’s the same with places. That’s what I like about traveling. Every time you can find something unique!

  4. Simon Valle Says:

    Interesting and thought-provoking post. I often found myself thinking about a different aspect on the same theme i.e. those places that, due to a dramatic turn of their political history, suddenly become inaccessible to travellers. I have always looked with envy to my father’s generation which could travel through some very interesting countries like Afghanistan, Somalia or Iraq in relative safety. Nonetheless only recently I have started to realise how many other place I had the fortune to visit just in the last ten years (e.g. Central African Republic, North-East Kenya, Liberia) to which I would not be able to return today if not with great risk. Yes we have to accept that places change continuously, unpredictably and unexpectedly. That’s why I always hope that one day soon we’ll be able to visit a peaceful Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria….