In January of 2017, my wife and I were celebrating out first anniversary. I knew that we wanted to always try to celebrate our anniversary by going somewhere. So in October, I decided that I was going to plan, pay for, and surprise Heather with a trip to London! She’d never been, and I was 10 when I visited, so we’d have a blast seeing the sites, experiencing the culture and getting away together. And that’s exactly what we did. We had a great three days exploring what became one of my favorite cities in the world while we were there. We visited Big Ben, toured Arsenal’s soccer stadium, saw a show in the West End theater district, explored Westminster Abbey, delved into the Churchill War Rooms and toured the Tower of London. We did quite a bit more, as well. In fact, we walked about 12 miles a day traversing London. But that’s beside the point.

One thing that Heather has always said is that whenever we travel, she doesn’t want to just go through a list of museums. If we go to see some things of great significance, like Michelangelo’s David, she’s in, but outside of that, museums aren’t her cup of tea. And honestly, I get it. Museums can sometimes feel like they’re just a classroom. But our tours of the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and the Churchill War Rooms were different for Heather, and for me, too, honestly. We both absolutely loved these historic monuments that have been turned into museums for modern-day tourists to visit. Even Heather talked for weeks after we got back about how cool these spots were. These spots went from words on pages and ideas in stories to real, tangible experiences. Not places, but experiences.

And I think that’s the magic of traveling. We don’t visit places. We participate in experiences when we travel.

It’s not a secret that being a continuous learner is important.

Leadership blogs, books and podcasts have expounded upon that idea for years. On top of that, the more you know, the better perspective on the world you have, the more you bring to your job, the better citizen you are, the more interesting conversationalist you are. The list can go on and on, and I could write for days about the reasons it’s important to be a constant learner. 

Now going from traveling to learning might seem like I lost my train of thought. However, whether you’re consciously choosing to learn or not when you take a trip, you are. You’re taking in new things, learning new cultures, gaining new perspectives. Whenever you have a new experience, it’s broadening your knowledge, perspective and outlook on the world we live in. And because of that, I think 2019 should be your year of travel.

Before you start thinking through all of the costs often associated with travel, hold the phone.

Travel doesn’t have to be what you see on Instagram.

You don’t have to start looking for flights across the pond. You don’t even have to start looking at hotel rooms. If you can make that happen, that’s great. A trip to Greece would be incredible, and I can’t wait to make that happen some day. But it’s not in the cards for 2019. That’s not going to stop me from new experiences in new places, though.

I’m going to guess that if you were to take a map (yes, a real life, physical map) and draw a circle that was 100 miles each way from where you live, you’d find something worth seeing. It might not qualify as one of the wonders of the world, but who cares? We live in a culture where we are seeing everyone’s grandiose lifestyle online. And honestly, I get jealous, too. How is it possible that friend is STILL in Venice? They’ve been posting pictures for three weeks there. Don’t they have a job? Well yeah, and in reality, they’re probably sitting at their desk right now bored out of their mind and just posting their highlight reel photos from the two days they spent in Venice last year. You don’t have to just travel to post it on Instagram. But if you’re looking for a Gram, I’m sure there’s something beautiful not too far away.

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So I actually did this. I drew a 100-mile radius around Nashville and starting looking for places to visit in 2019 that were new experiences for me. I was stunned to learn about the things that were only 30 miles away even! Some of the most significant battles of the Civil War happened just down the row at Carnton Plantation in Franklin (30-minute drive from my house) and at the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro (45-minute drive from my house). If those aren’t your cup of tea, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a mere two and a half hour drive away. Neither of those quite do it for you? How about some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen in Smoky Mountain National park just about 3 hours away? For a friend’s bachelor party, we went hiking to a waterfall called Virgin Falls near Cookeville, Tennessee. I had never heard of it before we hopped in the car to head that way. We camped right next to a 110’ tall waterfall that night! I had no idea that was only an hour away. And believe me, it was worthy of the Gram. Just give it a quick Google image search.

All of that is to implore you to make 2019 your year of travel. There are experiences all over the place that can broaden your horizons. I promise that you’ll see the world a little different after every new travel experience you have, and after all, that’s what we’re after. We’re just trying to learn more and be the best versions of ourselves. How can you be the best version of yourself if you’ve only ever known one place and what it has to offer?

Taylor Snodgrass works as the Multi-Site Creative Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife, Heather. He is passionate about being a constant learner and leading others to excellence in the church and their every day lives. He is also the co-founder of Pixel Kit Media, which exists to help the church cut through all the noise in our world with affordable, cutting-edge design elements.