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The Inspired Traveler - Jim Menge, Traveling Man

I was inspired growing up in Miami. The architecture was of Spanish and Italian origin. The people were from the Caribbean, South and Central America. The cities history, though rich, was recent (only 100 years). But, it wasn’t just the architecture or the people of this beautiful city that inspired me.

To this day, I can still vividly recall riding my bicycle from my house to Miami International Airport nearby to watch airlines and planes. Years before I had even heard the term “plane-spotting”, there I was watching the planes land and then watching them take off. They would land, they would take off, land, take off. Arrivals and departures. There I was as a young boy, standing on my bicycle leaning against the fence peering through the barbed wire with my eyes affixed toward the planes coming and going. This was by no means my misspent youth. Watching in awe as these machines (machines!) came and went inspired me to want to travel. I aspired to be one of those people on that plane and to go where they were going.

Where? It didn’t really matter.

Travel is shaped by inspiration.

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Travel is inspirational. Inspire comes from the Latin, “to inflame,” or “to blow into.” Oftentimes it is used to mean, “in spirit” or “to be spirited.” For me, it is what causes me to want to “rise above” a limitation or a problem. Inspirational travel is about something that causes us to move outward. Beyond ourselves.

For example, when we read great travel writing or when we read quotes like the RL Stevenson quote above – are we not inspired to experience this for ourselves. When he says “The great affair is to move” we want to do just that, move, to travel for which the mission and objective is simply the journey. And there is the inspiration of getting lost, finding oneself and returning to our final destination, home. Inspiration is something that starts within us that wants to move us along.

Travel is also aspirational. To return to the Latin, aspire is similar to that of inspire except that it involves something external and directional. The root is like akin or alike ~ to be alongside. Simply put, aspirational travel is about moving us upward. We hear of a place to go, an activity we want to do, something we want to experience. We read a blog post that motivates us, hear a speaker talk about a life-changing event, or watch a video about helping and giving that makes us want to contribute.

“Your aspirations are your possibilities.”

Samuel Johnson

I was having this discussion with a good friend, let’s call him Doug. Doug, somewhat of a curator of words, described inspiration and aspiration like this; “Inspiration is about things that might be possible. Inspiration has energy, ebullience (had to look this one up), a sense of well-being, and self-confidence. Aspiration is specific. It takes inspiration and gives direction. But, having inspiration doesn’t automatically give you aspiration.

As a child my inspiration to travel was not gifted to me. Even though I was surrounded by a foreign-born mother and a father who traveled abroad, had I not ridden my bike down to the airport all those times I would not have aspired to join the jet set. Inspiration came as a result of pursuit. Inspiration gave way to Aspiration.

To this day I find myself still inspired in my constant pursuit of travel. In the 20-30 travel emails I receive each day, I am inspired. Emails about going somewhere I’ve not yet been, about learning something new. New challenges and experiences. I am encouraged by this new generation of travel curators who are creating compelling and aspirational experiences at prices that are still affordable. Life-changing adventures can be bought with no more than a credit card and the click of a button. It’s ok to look to others for inspiration, to aspire to share their experiences and to create your own. Conde Naste Traveler lauds these curators of travel as someone who can seemingly _“pull off the impossible, plan a better trip than you ever could (really), and spare you the logistics. Put simply, they’ll nail it and you’ll have a better vacation because of them.” Find people who can help you accomplish what inspires you. _

I’m inspired by bucket lists. The movie. The website. Talking with people about their bucket list. I enjoy adding new things to my own list as much as I enjoy checking them off. It seems by bucket list is getting longer, not shorter! I am inspired while reading books about travel and adventure. And by people, like The Thrillionaire Guy. 

“Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often.”

The Holstee Manifesto

While inspiration doesn’t always hit me like a lightening bolt every day, I try to find that thing daily that stirs me inside to do more, to be better. It’s not only travel that inspires me, inspiration can be found all around us. To learn more about what inspired painters, architects and builders around the world in the early 1900’s, I listened to the audiobook of “The Greatest Journey: Americans in Paris” by David McCullough. It is a book about the 1800’s renaissance of people worldwide, who converged in Paris. It was like the Silicon Valley of that era and propelled many to accomplish great things. People with professions dissimilar to one another learned and experienced the practices of others. Learning from each others experiences, backgrounds, their ways of life, how they lived and did things… they were spurred on by one another.

“You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.”
Morgan Freeman as Carter Chambers, The Bucket List

I also make an effort to find the inspiration in people. I love talking to people about what inspires them. About what motivates them and makes them want to do something that they didn’t think was possible, or even probable. For many people, their inspiration is to give back, or to achieve something that seems insurmountable. To experience more. For others, inspiration comes while they’re lying on the beach or enjoying a family holiday. Inspiration drives people, it fuels their aspiration to achieve. When I watch Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent, or similar shows that tests a person’s abilities, I see the inspiration (and perspiration) that drives these people, and I am, in turn, inspired.

So, whether you aspire to travel the world, write the next great novel or simply (not so simply) be a better version of yourself, inspiration is key. Who are the people who have inspired you ~ who’ve motivated or caused you to want to do something greater? Who are the people you aspire to be like?

Be aspirational. Be an inspiration.