Why Travel?

Welcome, dear reader, to the section of this blog that is supposed to tell you a little about what I’m doing, and why I’m doing this. This is my first ever blog entry, so forgive me if I either ramble too much, or give away too little.

My name is Nathan Mizrachi. I was born and raised in a boring, quiet suburb of San Diego, and made a break for what I assumed to be the more sophisticated, culturally vibrant halls of academia at a liberal arts college…in a (slightly less) boring, quiet suburb of Boston. The truth is that neither coast has a monopoly on all the smart people, nor on all the dumb ones–there’s a mix everywhere you go. Maybe they just happen to be more interesting in the city than in the burbs? In any case, well before I ever left home, I had become fixated with travel. My dad used to have a beautiful wooden globe in his office, and as early as the age of five I remember running my fingers over its multi-textured surface, picturing exotic places such as Addis Ababa, Copenhagen, and Tokyo. When I was an undergrad, I was accepted to a study abroad program in Sevilla, but ended up staying in the USA because I was too afraid to break up with my girlfriend at the time–although I tried lying to myself and my friends that it was really because I wanted to prepare for law school. One relatively mediocre entry exam later (and two semesters following), I found myself starting a sales job here in Boston, and told myself that after a year or so of saving as much money as possible, I would finally quit and go on the journey of my dreams.

So why am I doing this now? Because at the age of 23, I am fortunate to be debt-free, I still remember a lot of the important things I studied as an Art History major and will actually appreciate the art I see, and because this is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on an adventure and let the world shape me on its own terms. It’s cliché, but travel is the only thing you pay for that makes you wealthier. I have saved up just enough money to put a down payment on a small apartment, buy a really nice car, or buy a new Hugo Boss suit every day for a month. While I’ve had many conversations with people who have traveled–and loved their experiences–I can’t recall many people fondly recollecting the shopping sprees they went on to buy things that ultimately don’t matter and they don’t remember. If you’re young like I am, have a job that allows you to save some of your money, and haven’t bought your ticket yet, then keep saving so that you can.

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You only get one chance.

43 thoughts on “Why Travel?

  1. Hi Nathan…………..I am really enjoy reading your blog. I will never travel…so reading your blog is the next best thing!

  2. agree with you about “While I’ve had many conversations with people who have traveled–and loved their experiences–I can’t recall many people fondly recollecting the shopping sprees they went on to buy things that ultimately don’t matter and they don’t remember. ” But you’re brave to drop everything and go like this! Not many people can do this!!

    1. Yes, you do! And you don’t have to drop everything and quit your job, you can take an unpaid vacation or something. In Paris, I met a woman at my hostel who was doing that for 2 months. There is always a way 🙂

    1. Thanks for following along Trish. Indeed I am wealthier now than I ever could have been had I decided to keep working my old job and living what was a hollow life. And please: DO THE CAMINO 🙂 It will change you forever, for the better.

  3. I greatly enjoyed the two posts of yours which I read. I too am considering the Way of Santiago. I too am from San Diego (now a long way from San Diego). I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. It’s funny, I’m pretty sure San Diego is just a more modern way of saying Santiago. Maybe us San Diegans are just destined to walk the Way. If you have a month or so of spare vacation time lying around, you should definitely do it! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hello Nathan! I just stumbled across your blog, and I’m getting goose bumps 🙂 I am also a 23 year old, debt-free, former student, who has been fixated on the idea of travel since childhood and is currently contemplating the meaning of life and yearning for something more. I will follow your posts with great interest.

    PS – even our website designs are the same. Eerie!

    1. Hey Maria! Please, please, please don’t settle down just yet. Get your graduate degree and then take a year off, because before you know it you’ll be sucked in. We both have our whole lives to be office drones, but only a few years to see the world. Save all the money you can and maybe I’ll see you sometime on the road!

      And yes, our website templates are the same, but I chalk it up to nothing more than good taste. Cheers!

  5. Life does have a way of happening if you don’t redirect it once in awhile (says the lawyer who didn’t find time to spend a couple weeks in Europe until her 40’s! — but took her kids along to help open their eyes to the world beyond). No regrets, our experiences make us who we are, and we just continue to look forward with what we’ve learned from before. Looking forward to following your journey.

    1. Ah Kat, I see we took different paths to find happiness. No judgment here though! I’m glad you eventually did manage to travel to Europe, but I hope you don’t feel that you saw the whole place in two weeks! Glad to have you along for the ride 🙂

  6. Found your blog among the “freshly pressed” and am intrigued by your choice to travel the Way in light of your Jewish heritage, but mostly because you admit to having no faith (or lost faith) in God. What’s important is that He won’t lose faith in YOU! You note that your journey is as internal as it is external. You will be in my prayers this evening… for your heart and soul to find and experience the joys God has prepared for you to discover and share through your blog today and your life tomorrow.

    1. Hey Benmo! Thanks so much for your prayers and keeping me in your thoughts. I should add that walking the way and experiencing so much kindness from others has at the very least restored my faith in Man (a little bit, because I don’t really see the news out here).

  7. I have wanted for the past four years to make the Camino journey. And when you get back, i recommend that you read Doreen Carvajal’s book, The Forgetting River. And Rebecca Solnit has a good one on walking, called Wanderlust. And she point out how since the stories of the Hebrew Bible were written that the main character were always nomadic walkers. And wasn’t Camino intended for a modern day spiritual journey, in a land with so much created conflict between the Moor and Spanish Catholics, with the Jew caught in the middle?

    1. Don’t keep putting off your Camino! You only get older, which means the walk will only get harder! I’ve heard of Carvajal’s book before, might give it a read when I’m done.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I spent six weeks in Spain this summer and loved it. Seeing some many historic and religious sites has changed me. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of reflective time to process it. In time I’ll be writing more about it on my blog. I envy that you are doing the Camino and look forward to hearing about your Spanish route to Santiago de Compostela.

  9. I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I could have retired almost two years ago but I love my job. I haven’t travelled as much as I’d like to, mostly due to paying off all those things you’ve mentioned. My son lives in Europe and travels a lot. He doesn’t make a lot of money but his job gives him amble opportunity to travel and he always finds a way to take a vacation or two every year. When I retire I hope to get out and see more of the world. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  10. Hi Nathan. I have been taken away by the film “The Way”, and imagine what it would be like to walk the Camino de Santiago, to be free of all constraints, to fully embrace my spiritual self, awakened, stepping outside of my American shell, and embracing the people and places i would encounter along the way. Alas, i am 61 years of age, and not able to pack it all in here and take off as you have done. Im writing to you, because i always told my kids to ‘ go while you are young and not afraid. Go!’ I am so glad for you, and i am so excited for you, and pray your experience will truly enrich your life in every way, but especially Spiritually, because after all, we are living spirits, encased in a body. Good luck to you and God bless you on your personal journey

    1. I’m happy I walked the Camino and decided to go, as hopefully your kids have done. But I think that time is still on your side–I met a man walking the Camino who was 65 and had survived two bouts with cancer. It’s never too late.

  11. Nathan, I am a fellow non-religious San Diegan who stumbled upon your blog while doing research for my upcoming Camino!! Due to work time constraints (& a recent foot surgery) I will be walking the shorter Camino Potugues in Sept. 2014. Since my late 30s I have developed an insatiable desire to travel and was blessed to visit Italy in 2008, Egypt & Israel in 2010 and Austria/Germany/Czech Republic in 2013. While nothing will compare to Israel, I suspect my upcoming Camino may be close! Thank you for your blog & for sharing your experiences so well. It is a gift you give to all who read it!!

    1. Hey there! I’m so, so happy you found my blog 🙂 I really hope this has served as inspiration for you. The Camino Portugues will no doubt be a life-changing experience for you and will leave you wanting to come back and try one of the other Caminos in the future, no doubt! Just remember to train before heading off to walk 30 km a day, especially coming off foot surgery you will probably suffer for it the first several days. ULTREIA!

  12. I was not the loudest American on the Camino. There was this gut from San Diego who had two walking sticks, pound, pound, pound. I hope you are well and reclaimed your walking shoes.

  13. I too come from a Sephardic background. While walking “the way” is at the top of my bucket list, I’m conflicted by going to Spain, a country that kicked out my ancestors 500 year ago.
    Any idea’s of a good “walk” that would interest Jews besides the Camino?

    1. Hey Jon!

      I guess it depends if you hold onto the idea that the descendants of the people who kicked our ancestors out 500 years ago have changed or not.

      For one, I didn’t encounter anyone who was anti-Semitic, although once I saw graffiti comparing former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Hitler, which for me crosses the line to anti-Semitism.

      Otherwise, walking the Camino was a lovely introduction to Spain, its’ people, and culture. The fact of the matter is the Camino is the most wonderful example of humans from all over the world coming together. It is the furthest thing away from the indignities which our ancestors endured and it shored my faltering belief in humanity’s capacity for good. If that’s still not convincing enough for you, then you can look at it this way: A Sephardic Jew coming back to Spain is, I think, a middle finger to the Inquisition and the hatred it represented.

      But I digress-you asked if I knew of any other good walks. I do, in fact! I found out about it while on the Camino–it’s the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku in Japan. Google it! 🙂

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