Western Europe is the “GO” square on the Monopoly gameboard of traveling the world.
There are sights and experiences that Europe has to offer which no other corner of the world can. On the same token, each continent has its own unique experience to offer travelers. However, there is a place to start when people become travelers, just as there is a natural progression
with most things. It is best for a traveler to work his way up to more exotic and challenging journeys, thus gaining more experience and knowledge along the way.
Having traveled to six of the seven continents throughout my childhood, I can vouch for the benefits of the natural progression of traveling and how it benefited my experiences. Traveling
abroad is no three-hour flight to Orlando, Fla., and one needs to warm up to the task.
Your ankles swell up with water, your knees cramp, your back aches, and your eyes burn with lack of sleep as the flight attendant wheels the food cart back down the aisle for the eighth meal of the day. This is what a flight to Japan feels like. Japan was one of the greatest trips I have ever taken, but it was a good thing I had been traveling abroad consistently for the past 11 years to much nearer countries.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew without having been to Europe.
Europe is teeming with charming culture. It’s a culture we can relate to because our history is so steeped in theirs. Cobblestone streets and statue-filled squares surrounded by eye-catching historic buildings can be found at a 360-degree view in countries like Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, to name a few. Start off visiting countries whose history can help you learn more about our own. It will give you a wonderful perspective when venturing
out into the farther reaches of the world.
Much of Europe’s history is found in its landmarks – some of the most recognizable and photographed sights in existence. Some critical travelers call them cliched tourist traps, but Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Acropolis are marvels to stand before. It is a powerful experience to witness first-hand sights that are printed all around the United States, but that the average person never sees with his or her own eyes. This is an experience that every traveler should have.
Traveling to the more exotic locations without previous beginner experience has the potential to put one off to the idea of traveling.
Without slowly conditioning oneself to the stresses of language barriers, different customs, and dietary awareness could create negative experiences that take the fun out of traveling. Experiencing other countries should be nothing short of a wonderful experience and it would be a shame to be averted from engaging in this hobby.
Especially in this day and age, with airline security becoming increasingly more intense, traveling shorter distances to not-so-exotic countries would be easier on the beginning traveler. Sure, the 3 oz. liquid rule is tough and it’s not fun to take off your shoes and belt at the security checkpoint. However, that is a whole lot tamer than getting a full-body pat down by security guards holding machine guns in a country like Brazil.
Besides, starting off small will give travelers an appreciation for the more advanced experiences later on. Travelers should have something to compare their challenging experiences with. To a beginner, coping with altitude sickness in Peru will only result in a miserable vacation. But to someone who has already covered the standard spots in Europe, the nasal congestion and lightheadedness will be a hilarious story to tell friends upon returning home.
Venturing out into the far corners of the world is an experience that will stick with travelers their entire lives. But starting off small with the wonders of Western Europe is a smart game plan for becoming a world traveler. When it comes to traveling to places like Asia, Africa and Australia, do not proceed until you pass “GO.”
Jesse North can be reached at