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Alan Gellin: There is no cure for the travel bug

During the last seven years, my wife, my son and I have traveled to all seven continents, including out-of-the-way places like the Amazon, the Arctic, Costa Rica, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands.

Prior to that, we had been primarily traveling to U.S. national parks, which are fantastic, by the way, but we decided to get a bit more adventurous and take an Alaska cruise. When we returned from that trip, I discovered that I had caught the travel bug.

The major symptom of the travel bug is a constant need to travel. The only side effect of the bug is that it can cause damage to your bank account, in direct proportion to fulfilling your need to travel. There are no known cures for the travel bug.

As a result of the travel bug, we have learned that there are eight benefits to traveling.

First, traveling exposes you to the world outside your world. Becoming immersed in other cultures gives you an appreciation for how other people live, as well as an appreciation for how and where you live.

Traveling also exposes you to ancient ruins, architecture, exotic foods, natural beauty, wildlife and so much more, all beyond your imagination. The range of experiences is endless, building memories that will last a lifetime.

Traveling increases your knowledge base. This is particularly true when you take a group tour, where your guide provides a wealth of information related to the sights you see and the experiences you have throughout your trip.

Traveling inspires creativity in other areas of your life. For example, photography is one of my hobbies and using the world as a subject and as a backdrop has opened up creative possibilities for me as a photographer.

Traveling allows you to get away from your day-to-day routine (including technology) and really live in the moment. You pack up your essentials and leave your home and worries behind. Every trip is the beginning of a new adventure to be fully experienced.

Traveling provides an activity to look forward to. We have been taking two trips per year, approximately six months apart. When one trip ends, it’s time to plan the next trip. This creates a level of excitement and anticipation in your day-to-day routine.

Traveling expands your circle of friends. You discover that the world can be a friendly place, especially if you participate in group tours. We have become friends and kept in touch with fellow travelers from places such as Australia, England and Switzerland.

Finally, traveling is a great conversation starter. When you travel a lot, it’s natural for people to ask about your most recent trip and where you’re going next. Plus, the more traveling you do, the more travel tips you can provide to other travelers.

I’m not trying to persuade you to travel. I understand the two most common objections to travel, which are cost and flying-related issues, and that traveling isn’t for everyone.

However, when the travel bug hits, it hits hard. If you do get it, you may find yourself tracking polar bears in the Arctic or watching the sun rise over the ruins at Machu Picchu.