Over the last few months the internet has been awash with articles about travelling and why you should get out there and experience as much as you can of what the world has to offer.
Travelling is fantastic, but it takes on many different forms. Not everyone has the opportunity, or the desire, to go backpacking after university, although it’s become something of an ideal.
But there are ways to explore the world and its vibrant cultures without stepping outside your living room.
Much as I love to visit somewhere new and have the chance to wander through unfamiliar streets, I also love to explore a place on the pages of a book.
Reading allows us to wander using only our imagination. We have to construct the streets we walk along, the vast blue skies, the sandy beaches and the snow covered mountains. We get to imagine the details in a way that real life doesn’t always allow. We can see inside that lonely house that overlooks the bay, or catch a glimpse of the view from the highest window of that striking building.
We can explore a new place through someone else’s story, taking ourselves out of the equation completely. We’re standing on the other side of the glass, looking in, observing and allowing our emotions to heighten the moment.
We’re not worried that we’ve gotten lost along the way, or we might miss the last bus back to the hotel. We’re not wilting in the heat, or shivering from cold, hoping to find a welcoming café to pass the time. We don’t have to think about language or customs or money, or lug around sun cream and cameras. Our shoulders aren’t tingling with sunburn and our feet aren’t exhausted.
Instead we’re opening our minds to the feel of the place, somewhere we might never otherwise see. We can know what it’s like to live there, what our dreams might look like, who else we might be.
Or we can use books to take us deeper into a country we’ve already travelled. We can reminisce about the bars we visited or the colour of the sky at sunset. We can picture clearly these characters striding along the same streets our feet have wandered, recognising the names of the landmarks and the people that walk among them.
You don’t have to travel to experience a place. Only open a book and let your imagination wander through the pages.