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The word “travel” conjures images of far off exotic lands, strange foods, and relaxation. Many people fly off to different areas of the world, stay in hotels and lay on beaches, but they really never get into the heart of travel: exploration.

Exploration is investigating the unknown.

I’m not talking about holding seances or ghost hunting (although that could be part of it) but unknown to YOU. Many of us get into routines and when we go on vacation, we think that going to a resort will be the answer….every year. Resorts are great to decompress and just do nothing. But the mind needs more, it needs the unknown.

The unknown means having experiences that are out of your range of normal. Volunteering at an orphanage in Central America with your church, roping steers at a working dude ranch in New Mexico, or putting your hands into clay during a week-long pottery making intensive. These are experiences where you don’t just relax, but where your mind expands beyond its current boundaries. You meet and connect with new people. You get to experience a completely different lifestyle. You care about what happens to the people you met on these adventures and your life has truly changed as a result of these experiences.Molding a pot

Many years ago, I lived in Chicago and dreamt about traveling to other countries. I was lucky in that I had already traveled extensively across the U.S, camping with my parents. We even ventured into Canada and Mexico for a couple of excursions. But I had never gone on a trip by myself out of the country. I didn’t have the money or the courage to go completely alone and my friends didn’t have any interest in traveling overseas. At the time, I was taking some classes at a local university and I spotted a class that was going to Belize. This class was not going to the beaches, but was going to a variety of environmental reserves and archeological ruins. I decided to jump in with both feet and take the class. It changed my life. I made connections with people and later went back to Belize alone to help with a community project in southern Belize.

That’s what travel does, it changes your life and your worldview.  When you return home, you are not the same person because your mind has been expanded beyond its original pre-trip boundaries.

My goal is to share some out-of-the way places that can help expand the mind. You may have similar unique places in your town or region, go out and explore. Experience the unknown.