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Travel's Mind-Broadening Benefits

Dear Rudy,

For some reason, travel seems to bring out my gregarious tendencies while simultaneously suppressing my self-preservation instincts.

Right after I graduated from college in 1985, my boyfriend (now husband) and I took a big trip to Europe. We bought round-trip tickets to England and went all over until the money ran out. When we were in Italy, we found that wine was actually cheaper than water. Indeed, in Florence, they would put bottles of wine on the tables the same way that American restaurants put out ice water. I often invited other diners to come and enjoy it with us. "Hey! You look like nice people. Come have a glass of wine with us!" We met a lot of interesting people doing this (both other travelers and Italians), and even if they weren't that interesting, we didn't know. (All that wine, you know.)

In Israel, we found ourselves making fast friends with an Israeli girl who worked at a local travel agency. We'd asked her about bed and breakfasts and her response was, "Forget it! Come stay with me instead." So, after knowing her for all of 15 minutes, we did just that. Wound up having an incredible time -- as tourists during the day and gadding about with young Israelis (and one Yemenite) at night.

I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything. They made me realize that it's not about what you see. It's about getting outside your comfort zone and broadening your perspectives to see where people are different, and where we are the same. That's the joy of travel, right?

Still, upon arrival back in the US, I wondered, "Whose brain was I wearing? We could have invited murderers or kidnappers to join us for dinner -- and we thought nothing of moving in with someone who could have been really dangerous!"




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