By Brad Benson
Hi! I’m Brad! #BRADpacking I am a current New Yorker, a former Pittsburgher, a digital marketer, an actor, an avid reader, a marathoner, an amateur cook, an optimist, a lover of life (& beer!)…
…but one of my most compelling interests is travel.
Through Semester at Sea in Fall 2002, to a solo 2-month backpacking trip through Europe three days after graduation, to an array of independent trips since I’ve set foot in 39 countries across 6 continents.
Believe it or not, by my 19th birthday I had never stepped foot off of American soil. I’ve always had a general interest in foreign places, but was also perfectly content with a life centered around my hometown –the Steel City, the City of Bridges, the Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
And then my perspective changed. At 19, I took a brief trip to Mexico and from that point forward, I developed an insatiable wanderlust. Now, I’ve seen first-hand some amazing things: Iguazu Falls in Argentina! A speech by Fidel Castro in Cuba! The Great Barrier Reef in Australia! The Mona Lisa in the Paris of France! But more importantly, I have interacted with different cultures and have grown to appreciate their differences to my own.
It’s true – travel has changed my life. It challenged my small-town worldview to instead understand that there are worthy experiences and people beyond the confines of my everyday life. It has increased my confidence and spurned a determination to find my way no matter the challenges… even if that means disembarking a bus at a “desert intersection” in Jordan. It has taught me that the worst of times – be that on a personal or international level – can bring out the best in Humanity… and that tap water in Peru can bring out the worst in bodily functions.
I believe that cross-cultural exposure is imperative to this World. An avid traveler is a catalyst to understanding: a vessel to promote empathy, to defy fear, and to celebrate the similarities and differences that make us Human.
Moving forward, I’ll be sharing personal anecdotes, practical advice, and an assortment of other goodies to inspire the travel bug in you to get that passport stamped! I hope the effect my travels have had in changing my life inspires you to seek something similar.
After all, travel is transferable, and wanderlust is contagious!
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