Wishing all of our American friends and colleagues a very happy Thanksgiving. May your feasts be plentiful and your gratitude shared amongst those you love most. Although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in South Africa, the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday trends have certainly gone global. And as much as we can all appreciate a good sale before the festive season, all of this frenetic shopping chaos has detracted from what really matters: giving thanks, paying it forward and spending quality time with loved ones.
Every travel addict loves the quote, “collect moments, not things”, so let’s all take this adage to heart as our inboxes get bombarded with one-day-only offers and sales over the next few days. Say no to ‘things’ and yes to ‘moments’. Let travel be your vice — it provides unforgettable memories, quality time with loved ones, unparalleled teachings and, if you travel responsibly, it also gives back to our planet’s land, wildlife and people.
We have shared some unique travel inspiration with remarkable savings for Cyber Monday, so keep an eye out. We hope you’ll be inspired to travel, learn and reconnect, instead of queuing in the shops for more ‘stuff’.
What does travel mean to you?
With the exciting launch of our brand new &Beyond video (watch it here) and social media competition (have you entered?), we asked ourselves and our well-travelled guests, “what does travel mean to you?” As it turns out, the answer is entirely personal and different for every traveller.
In today’s tech-obsessed world, social media may well be the perfect platform to showcase the world’s beauty to armchair travellers across the globe, but travel is so much more than just getting that perfect Instagram shot. Travel should be meaningful. It should excite and inspire you, rejuvenate and ground you, educate and challenge you, and most of all, it should humble you.
Travel gives us our greatest stories, our most cherished memories and countless irreplaceable learnings that we can choose to pay forward to others. It teaches us about ourselves and each other, it broadens our horizons and, just like a reset button, it forces us to refocus on what really matters.
Here’s what travel means to me…
For me personally, travel is a way of life. I was born into a travel-obsessed family and had already lived on three different continents by the time I started school, so wanderlust (and an often ridiculed hybrid accent) was inevitable for me. My sister and I are incredibly fortunate to have parents that insisted that travel was the best classroom and, thankfully, our school holidays were spent exploring fascinating places, both near and far.
Upon graduating university (and turning 21), I was given the greatest gift: the gift of travel. Armed with a round-the-world plane ticket and a sense of adventure, I took off on a six-month solo backpacking trip through Europe, Southern Africa and Australia and, without a doubt, it changed the way I saw the world. So, as a self-confessed travel addict, here are the 10 reasons why I love to travel.
1. Travel to leave our world a better place
I have been fortunate to work and travel with &Beyond for more than 13 years now and what inspires me most is our company ethos and unwavering commitment to care for the land, wildlife and people. Travelling with &Beyond has given me the rare privilege to actively take part in so many unforgettable and truly meaningful experiences, such as: witnessing endangered rhino being safely translocated; observing an elephant cow being collared for research and monitoring purposes; helping to relocate a vulnerable nest laid by an enormous and highly endangered sea turtle; spending a night in a traditional Maasai manyatta (homestead); and so much more. &Beyond’s authentic, experiential travel not only enables travellers to participate, engage and learn, but it also allows them to travel with purpose and to help leave our world a better place.
2. Travel to learn
Not all classrooms have four walls and travel is the best way to immerse yourself in geography, history, culture, gastronomy, languages, biology … you name it. Travel enriches the mind and educates us far beyond any textbook or travel guide. Not only do curious travellers learn about different landscapes, languages and lifestyles; glean fascinating facts while observing wild animals in their natural habitat; delve into a region’s history and taste the local flavours; but they also learn about themselves (and each other) along the way.
3. Travel to meet different cultures
Travel exposes us to different cultures and ancient traditions and through these authentic encounters, we learn to embrace and celebrate both our similarities and our differences. Travel teaches us about humanity and gives us an appreciation, understanding and respect for different points of view and ways of life.
4. Travel to escape reality
We all need to fall off the radar and escape reality every once in a while. Travel allows us to enjoy complete anonymity in new and unexplored territories. It gives us absolute freedom to live in the moment and it allows us to be anyone, to go anywhere and to do anything. The best part of my six-month trip around the world, way back when, was the freedom of being able to just wake up and pick a spot anywhere on the map and find a way to get there. Travel enables us to be spontaneous and seek new experiences.
5. Travel to relax
Our lives are time-starved and technology-driven and, let’s be honest, it’s not often that we actually take the necessary time to de-stress and truly switch off. Travel allows us to escape life’s daily demands, dramas and deadlines and enables us to clear our minds. It encourages us to recharge our batteries and to truly disconnect (from our phones, Wi-Fi, emails, laptops, social media, etc.) in order to reconnect (with ourselves, each other and the natural environment).
6. Travel to explore
Travel takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to see, taste and try new things. It constantly challenges us, not only to adapt to and explore new surroundings, but also to engage with different people, to embrace adventures as they come and to share new and meaningful experiences with friends and loved ones. Whether you seek adrenaline and non-stop activity, or unapologetic siestas and ultimate relaxation, travel gives us the opportunity to explore with an open heart and an open mind.
7. Travel for humility
Without a doubt, travel is a crash course in humility. As we cross borders, and oceans, we gain true perspective. We learn to recognise and be grateful for all of the things we take for granted in our own lives, and we also gain an appreciation and respect for how others live. Travel teaches us to be tolerant, flexible and open-minded, and most of all it makes us humble.
8. Travel to eat
One thing you’ll never find on a suggested packing list is a diet. Leave it at home! Just make sure you bring a healthy appetite and a willingness to taste new flavours and sample all of the local delicacies. Remember, mimosas are totally acceptable at breakfast and dessert is always a good idea. Indulge, go back for seconds and exercise when you get home.
9. Travel to transform
Don’t just travel for travel’s sake. Travel to seek adventure and feel alive. Take part in authentic experiences that will not only change the way you see the world, but that will also encourage self-reflection, environmental awareness and global action to help protect and conserve our planet.
10. Travel to live out your bucket list dreams
Every traveller’s bucket list is different. Whether you long to watch the sun set over the Taj Majal, snowshoe on the side of an active volcano, witness Africa’s Big Five and the Great Migration, or find your Zen on a yoga retreat in the Himalayas, if you can dream it, you can do it. Travel is the best medicine and long may it continue to take our breath away and turn us all into storytellers (and committed custodians of our precious planet).