I don't have any real idea why I travel. I guess just because I enjoy it. Sometimes when travelling I wonder why the hell I am doing it, especially when the journey becomes an ordeal, but then when I get back feeling relaxed and happy full of tales to tell then I remember why. The most stressful travels have always resulted in the most amazing stories, like my two week hike across Java where I nearly fell out of a moving train into the jungle at night, stared into the bowels of an active volcano, drove through the devastation of an earthquake and tidal wave, and many other crazy adventures all in just a couple of weeks.
My travels have become more mundane as I get older and wiser, and seek to avoid the stress and strife that I once reveled in. I still dream of adventures, like taking the train from Istanbul to Tehran and Damascus, but even here I will make sure to take enough money with me to make the trip enjoyable rather than endurable. I travel to challenge myself, to get myself off my ass and doing something, and most journeys make me feel like I've achieved something, even if it is just something as simple as getting myself on a plane, something I've not been comfortable with since September 11th.
I love to see different things, speak with people of different backgrounds, see how people live outside my comfortable accepted world. I like to hear their different opinions, hear their dreams and desires, their raison d'etre. This helps me understand the world better and help me with my other loves: international politics and history. I love to write and discuss these subjects, and having the experience of being to the places I am writing about gives me a much better understanding of the issues.
I also like to write stories, especially to build plots and characters, and going to new places and meeting new people helps me to build a catologue of characteristics with great depth and humanity. The politics, history and writing all tie in together with the travelling, allowing me to create believable backdrops for stories with real people. I'm also lucky enough to be able to use these skills in my job, where I help to build worlds filled with convincing people and places.