By Nellie Umutesi-Vigneron

Traveling was instilled in me during childhood: whether it was a summer in Kenya, a weekend trip into the countryside of Burundi, or a road trip to the nearest town to enjoy an afternoon by the lake, my Mother made sure that we traveled and ventured out.

That love for traveling and exploring has stayed with me over the years.

I travel because, the mere thought of walking around in a new city, breathing its air, eating its food and talking to its people exhilarates and excites me. I travel because I cannot imagine sitting still and visualizing what could be instead of exploring what is!

I travel because, I get to meet people I would have never met if I had stayed home. Seeing new faces, exchanging stories, reminiscing on old memories, sharing feelings, thoughts and energy.  I am left with a little bit of them as they take a little bit of me!

I travel because, I just need to disconnect from the people around me. It is not because I don’t love them but the exact opposite. Traveling gives me a chance to lose myself, dig deep into my thoughts, recharge my soul and spirit, see something new and come back with so much love and energy!

I travel because, I always come back a different person every time. Travel really inspires me to become the best person I can be, it gives me insights on where I want my life to go, gives me projects to work on when I return, ideas to discuss with my loved ones. It opens up my mind, helps me realize how grateful I am to experience this world. It helps me refocus my priorities and deepen my understanding of the world and myself.

I travel to learn. With every trip, I learn about the country, its history, culture and way of life. I am forced to embrace pretty much everything as I am now a stranger in a foreign land.

I travel because it builds my confidence, especially when I travel somewhere where I do not speak the language and still find a way to communicate and get to where I need to be.

I travel because it challenges me and my preconceived notions of other people and cultures. At times, there is a huge difference between what media portrays and what reality is. I recently traveled to Cuba. Media coverage over the years have been focused on poverty in Cuba, communism and lack of opportunity. Although this may be partially true, they often fail to mention that Cubans are friendly, warm, curious and an industrious people. They also have a deep sense of connection and respect with Africa. These personal discoveries challenged my preconceived notion of Cuba and its people.

Travels hug my soul, guide my spirit, expand my imagination, teach me life lessons and deepen my existence on earth.

I want you to travel and I want to hear all about it. Travel, go far or near, stretch yourself, your thoughts and experience all you can out of life. Then come back, teach and share with us what you have seen, felt and how you were moved by this beautiful world we live in.

Where to next?