I have been roaming the wide world for more than four decades, first as a student and then as a travel writer, and each trip has underscored the validity and power of a simple truth: At its heart, travel is about connection. When we venture into a foreign setting, we may initially feel displaced, uneasy, ignorant about what to say or how to act. But as moments stretch into hours and hours stretch into days, we experience just how similar we are to these people that had been foreign to us. We come to understand their daily rituals, foods, entertainments, beliefs. We learn to read the body language, recognize the cultural cues. We connect.
And when we make these connections, we understand that, despite differences in economic background, religious belief, and cultural tradition, we all share the same needs and dreams. We understand that the world is fundamentally a friendly place, our shared blue-and-green home.