I’m sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting to board a flight. The past month I’ve been traveling much more than usual (even for myself). It’s my first backpacking adventure that’s lasted more than two weeks in over a year. As I sit here, tired and exhausted from a family wedding last night, I can’t help but wonder why do we travel?

This seven week trip around North America has a few different travel purposes for me. Firstly, it’s to see people. I’ve attended two friends’ marriages, visited family and caught up with old friends. The next three weeks will be more of the same: seeing even more people that I haven’t seen in years, visiting family and reconnecting with some of my favorite cities (Boston and New York).

It hasn’t been easy—this month of backpacking with set itineraries and a million things to do and people to see. And yet I’d have to say that this trip is worth every trouble. It’s worth every night of 3 hours of sleep, every time change, every baggage fee, every twisted ankle from dancing. This trip is worth every meal out, every couch I’ve slept on and every time I’ve looked for a power outlet in an airport.

I’m so happy to travel. To be able to travel where I want, when I want. There’s a lot of luck and happenstance involved—a lot of work, too—but I know I’m lucky to be able to travel so much.

The purpose of this travel adventure was to see people, but other trips have had other purposes. Everything from experiencing a new culture, trying new foods, marking it off a list. Here are four main reasons I think why we all want to travel. Please feel free to chime in and offer your reasons in the comments.

To see people

My current Hipster Trip around America was planned around three friends’ weddings, many unofficial reunions and a return trip to my home of seven years: Boston. I’ve often said that people are what make a trip so interesting, so it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the biggest reasons we travel is to visit friends and family. But a lot of us also probably travel to meet even more new and interesting people.

To try new things

Whether it’s skydiving or standing on the edge of a 116 story building in Toronto, visiting new cities often means new experiences. Maybe it’s the foreign atmosphere, the fact that you may know very few people, or just an adrenaline rush from taking time off from life. Travel continually pushes me to my limits, often getting me outside of my comfort zone so I can try new things.

To eat new (and often delicious) foods

Over the summer I finally embarked on a trip to Italy—a country I always wanted to visit but never did (for silly reasons). Besides visiting Italy for the tourist sites, art and museums, I focused heavily on finding the best Italian food (especially pizza)!

Food and culture are often so intertwined it’s often impossible to separate the two. And it’s my guess that many of us (even non-foodies) travel to particular destinations for food, wine and other local specialties.

To learn

The three months I spent traveling around India during my big trip were some of the most intense and interesting months of my life. Every day was a new adventure (and often a challenge), but I learned so much during that time I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned more about myself, about the world, about India and about humanity.

With all the newness we face each day abroad in a foreign place it’s hard not to come away with more than a souvenir.

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Why do you travel? Before I set out on my round-the-world trip, I made a list of reasons why I was going to travel. While I realize and respect that everyone has a different reason for each and every travel, I can’t help but feel there’s a lot of overlap. Share your reasons below!

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