Why do people travel? For centuries, humans have packed their belongings and set off on foot to explore a new corner of the earth. What did they seek? How successful were their voyages? Often times, traveling was in spirit of acquisition. Whether it be land, food, or resources, the map-less world stood more like a crystal ball than the round, spinning globe that we know. While some might be bold enough to state that we’re inherently inclined to travel–today, we travel for very different reasons. We travel for work; to study abroad. We travel to enjoy vacations by simply hopping on a plane and arriving at some warm destination in a mere few hours. This was not the same activity in the past, when only a few civilizations dotted the globe. We’ve lost the adventure; the quest to discover what landscapes lie just beyond our reach.
For some, the craving still exists.
The adventurer in me is jealous of this method. You’d be hard pressed to find a similar experience. Perhaps that’s why I keep searching for the undiscovered gems in a new city, the places where the tourists have not yet claimed. It’s a small prize.
Check out the following explorers who saw what so many of us dream to encounter. A vast continent. Uncharted territory. In no particular order: these are the 8 journeys I’d time-travel to join in a second.
- Lewis and Clark
Paying homage to our American roots, Lewis and Clark successfully charted one of the first routes across the United States. Who wouldn’t want to see the wild stretches of America populated only by Native Indian tribes. Not yet sold? Take comfort in the fact that Lewis would probably make a fun travel companion. Prior to his 8,000 mile excursion, he was court-martialed for challenging a lieutenant to a drunken duel.
- Charles Darwin
In 1835, while Darwin sailed on the Beagle, he and his crew docked at the islands in an attempt to explore various harbor points along the coast. What they found would change history. Darwin’s astute observation–dozens of different finches living on surrounding islands, would launch him into studying and conceptualizing the theory we know as evolution. This is an adventure I’d love to attend. Island hopping with a small crew; exploring new landscapes and species. Worried about lack of entertainment? Darwin was an enthusiastic backgammon player.
- Marco Polo
The legendary Marco Polo may rank at the top of epic voyagers in our history books. His greatest route? The Silk Road in Asia, where Polo spent more than 24 years exploring the lands and the cultures of China and Mongolia. An unhappy ending: Marco’s famous account–The Travels of Marco Polo was actually penned while Polo was in prison. It was published nearly 2 years after his release and written by a talented ghostwriter and fellow captive.
- Franklin’s Northwest Passage
I’d say yes to this adventure if there were a way to time-travel back when needed. Who could turn down the opportunity to witness the actual events that led to Sir John Franklin’s failed attempt to explore the arctic territory. Did his crew resort to final-stage cannibalism like many scientists suggest? Still, this adventure would be worth seeing for the impressive views of the healthy Arctic landscape. Franklin and his crew left England in 1845 hoping to discover a passageway that had stumped previous explorers. Travel tip: Don’t eat the food. While Franklin’s demise is still a mystery, some scientists have pointed to the cans of food packed for the trip. Containing high levels of lead, these cans might be the cultrip to the century-old mystery.
- Vasco da Gama
This portuguese explorer was the first to reach India from Europe. Spawned by the recent trip around the tip of Africa which led to the discovery that the oceans were connected, Portugal’s ruler, King John II hired inexperienced de Gama to lead a fleet of four ships to make the uncharted journey. He successfully reach India and returned; a trip that would take him more than 2 years. One thing I’d bring? Oranges. Vasco da Gama lost more than 100 of his 170 men to scurvy.
- Apollo 11
Mars still might be on the table, but stepping foot onto the moon for the first time would be an unforgettable event. Who wouldn’t want to bunk up with Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins? Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of space discovery is that we get to experience the excitement of charting a new land. We’ve got Earth locked down. Now, we’ve got our eyes set to the stars.
Ready for your own adventure? Why not check out these epic destinations. They may not be the same as the original journeys, but they’ll probably provide a wild ride…