How Travelling Makes the World Feel Bigger, Not Smaller

The old saying states that travelling makes the world feel smaller.

That makes sense. Travel shows us that we are not so different after all and highlights how connected we are. But travel also makes the world feel bigger. Exponentially.

Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Semuc Champey, Guatemala

The more you see, the more you realize there is to see.

Before I left Canada for the first time, I had a vague idea of the rest of the world only in a theoretical sense. I had read National Geographic and looked at Atlases, but other countries were just a concept to me. They weren’t real in my head just yet.

Travel makes real the things you have only read or heard about second hand.

I could have read a thousand books about India and I would have had an intellectual concept of it.  But now I have smelled the hot stench of the streets of Delhi. I have listened to the loud jangle of the music and admired the way the sun makes the marble of the Taj Mahal glow. India is real to me now, in taste, sight, sound, feel and smell.

So, as I travel I move slowly throughout the world, illuminating parts of it in my understanding. The map lights up like a switchboard, each country making more sense to me as I encounter it first-hand.

Udaipur, India
Udaipur, India

Like zooming in on Google Maps, each destination expands in complexity as soon as the plane descends towards the soil. The closer you get to a country, the more the tiny spots on the map start to become visible. You start to realize that you could explore this small section of the world for years and still not see it all.

Before I traveled to Peru, I had a vague idea of what Peru was. I had images of llamas and Machu Picchu and colourful traditional clothes. This was just the beginning of an understanding. When I got on the ground, I learned so much more.

I visited towns like Arequipa and Ollantaytambo, places I had never heard of before. I took long bus rides where I came to understand the landscapes and how the terrain fit together. Peru was once a simplified concept in my head. Now it is a more detailed rendering, complete with details such as the sweet taste of Inca Cola on a dusty roadside and the smell of grilled guinea pig.

ladies (1 of 1)Colca Canyon, Peru

This effect of a destination expanding in your mind as you soak in more details, it never seems to stop. During four months in Melbourne, Australia every pub and café I visited made the city grow bigger in my mind. With every walk, I discovered new parks and trails. The idea of “Melbourne” expanded further and further in my mind as I filled more details. It’s now more than just a dot on a map for me, it’s a huge world where I immersed myself for a while and made many memories.

The more you travel, the more you want to see.

Mandalay, Myanmar
Mandalay, Myanmar

You’ll go to Cambodia and meet a German, who tells you about their lovely hometown in Bavaria. You’ll put it on the list. While you are in Germany you will meet a Brit, who waxes poetic about their time in the Algarve region of Portugal. You’ll put it on the list.

It’s no use – because when you go there you will learn about somewhere else that you must see. There’s always something more to discover, just around the next bend. I urge you to see what happens when you push beyond the edges of the map in your head and start to feel the world expand. It’s dizzying and exciting to feel it stretching out in all directions around you.

So, the world just keeps getting bigger. It’s like an ever-expanding smorgasbord. You keep eating but you keep noticing new dishes being added to the edges of the table.

I know with certainty that I will never finish it all.

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The world is infinite. Even if one day I am the strange 80-year-old lady in the hostel, I will still die with many places left unseen.

How can I check off every item on my bucket list? With each one I complete; I end up finding five more that I want to add. How can you see all of something that keeps growing and changing at such a rate? You can’t, it’s impossible.

But damn it, I’m going to try my very best.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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14 Comments

  1. I could not agree more. So many amazing things to see and do and while I keep checking off new destinations, my bucket list fills up even more rapidly. Your travels sound amazing.

  2. What is true is that travel does not make the world any smaller or bigger but it makes the world more awesome: how similar we all are and how different still we can be, inviting us to further exploration.

  3. Such a fantastic read. So true. I’ve noticed the same thing in my travels. I wish you safe journeys and a great life.

    Take care

  4. It’s very sad that the park was damaged. We were just about to visit it, but because of the weather conditions we decided to postpone our trip. And after the weather cleared up, unfortunately we decided not to visit the place until it was properly restored. But, we visited no less cool, beautiful and interesting place, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I tell you, I did not expect that such a small but pretty town can be practically the entertainment capital. The sheer number of festivals, concerts, restaurants, and resorts, just makes you think twice before choosing where to go. But I’m glad we visited the OFFICIAL WESTGATE GATLINBURG SITE and chose our resort area ahead of time. So if anyone hasn’t been to this wonderful place yet, I highly recommend it.

  5. Traveling is an enriching experience that expands your perspective and understanding of the world. It allows you to immerse yourself in different cultures, meet new people, taste unique cuisines, and explore stunning natural wonders. Instead of making the world feel smaller, traveling has the power to make it feel bigger and more fascinating. When you visit tourist attractions like the Cave of Swallows, for example, you can witness the sheer beauty and wonder of nature, which can leave you in awe of the world’s magnificence. To make the most of your trip, it’s always advisable to research beforehand and gather useful information. If you’re planning to visit the Cave of Swallows, we highly recommend checking out the website https://www.discoverybit.com/directory-travel/listing/cave-of-swallows/ for helpful tips and insights.

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  7. Traveling expands our horizons, exposing us to diverse cultures, landscapes, and perspectives. It challenges preconceptions, fosters empathy, and cultivates a deeper understanding of our place in the world. Each journey adds layers to our perception, making the world feel infinitely vast and full of possibilities. Korea Package Tour

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