Proof Frontier Project: Jordan Craig
With today’s technology, we can easily see the world through a phone, computer, tablet, or any electronic device. People often gain satisfaction in seeing rather than fully experiencing. Vicariously living through their favorite explorers on instagram, many of us are inspired but few of us take the necessary steps to become fully immersed in the destinations we fantasize about. Traveling allows us not only to see the world, but experience it.
A few months ago I put together a trip with 9 friends of mine. In a 3 week road trip we traveled over 5,000 miles across the MidWest United States, visiting some of the most beautiful and iconic destinations, living simply and loving every second of it. This trip pushed the boundaries and we are all different people because of it. Each of us died at some point along the expedition, resurrected to a new perspective.
The lessons, memories, and experiences we brought home with us can’t be given a price. We were able to learn about the places we visited as well as the people and the culture. Although each of us had a unique experience with every destination, we were all able to spend time reflecting on ourselves and share with each other what made each destination so special to us. Constantly being in a new place can be stressful, however, there’s peace in having a clean slate every day, another chance to find a new perspective.
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” - Ansel Adams
These words carry considerable weight. While traveling, some of the most insignificant moments along your journey can become your most memorable. When you allow yourself to fully engage with people and places, you make connections that leave a mark on you. The places we visited rendered us more insightful, appreciative, and connected to nature than when we arrived.
Traveling to so many places in a short period of time forces you to learn how to adjust quickly and be prepared for any situation. We saw many different climates, ecosystems, and landscapes on our journey so adaptation became a very important facet of the trip. While on the road, you might fall asleep in the middle of a snowstorm and wake up a few hours later in the desert-- which I actually did. It wasn’t always easy, but learning how to work through problems and laugh along the way was part of what lead to an overall unforgettable experience. This journey awakened the primal, instinctual adventurer in us all, dependent only upon our passionate commitment to the adventure to conquer each obstacle foolish enough to stand in our way.
The benefits of traveling extend to more than just temporary happiness and excitement. We had a faint idea of what to expect from each locale, but mother nature always found a way to surprise us. Every destination posed new challenges. Every campfire brought about memorable conversations. Every photo told a different story.
The idea behind Westward Nomads was to prove that the most valuable thing we can gain from life isn’t a tangible object, but the memories and moments that impact our lives. It's easy to spend the holidays at home with family and exchanging gifts. People probably even thought we were crazy to miss waking up to our families on Christmas morning, however, the 10 of us were able to feel at home with each other. After many long car rides, campfires, cheap motel rooms, and late night conversations over the course of 3 weeks, we grew closer together and saw sides of each other that most don’t get to see. We would have never made such good friendships had it not been for indulging ourselves in our surroundings and simply enjoying the company of each other.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” - Mark Twain
If you take just one thing away from this, I want it to be the importance of travel. At its most basic core, travel opens your eyes to the world, allowing you to see past the cultural, economical, and social bubble of your geographical society. Without travel, you will inevitably reach a point in your life where you can grow no further or deeper as a person. It unlocks your full potential as an inhabitant of this Earth that we all share, connecting you to the many different landscapes, people, and cultures of the world. Travel is fatal.