The 5 Senses of Travel

Traveling is an all-encompassing activity. It’s overwhelming, sometimes nerve-wracking, but full of experiences that would be hard to come across by staying at home. That’s part of what makes it worth it; the newness of it all.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home. | James Michener

The best thing about traveling is experiencing something new, in any sense of the phrase. I broke it down to fully appreciate the blanket that travel wraps around me, and maybe it pertains to other wanderlusters as well.

Sight: Every day you see things you would only dream about at home. Architecture that your brain struggles to make sense of, famous works of art you’ve only seen in textbooks, people of different cultures wearing brighter, bolder, better things. The simplicity of a sailboat in a harbor, the crooked history of a cobblestone street. A picture-perfect view of the Italian countryside or a French castle hidden in a valley. Things that simply don’t translate in a photo.

Sound: The sound of 500-year-old church bells ringing in the distance, new languages that you pretend to piece together for some semblance of familiarity. Bicycles & city busses whizzing by, street vendors of food & art yelling at passersby to try to hook them in on their deals.

Smell: The smell of freshly baked baguettes filling the street each morning before the people step outside. Flower gardens & the wetness of fountain mist in the park. The not-so-lovely smell of the Parisian metro system.

Touch: Beautiful fabrics from around the world, the folds in your map as a secret safeguard, your backpack and your own clothes as a reminder of home while you’re far away. The warmth of the sun on your face that’s somehow different & more freeing from the other side of the world. Feeling the unique slickness of a Euro note compared to an American dollar.

Taste: A morning espresso shot chased with a butter croissant. A real Italian pizza with a crispy crust and gooey egg half-cooked in the center. Flavors your mouth never new existed — in mostly good and sometimes unfortunate ways. Wine with breakfast, wine with lunch, wine in the afternoon, wine with/is dinner. (Hey, this is my vacation- save the judgment for yourself!)

It’s easy to think of travel as just a vacation or chance to see something new. But if you only use your eyes to take everything in, think of how much you could miss along the way.

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