If You Love America, Leave.

AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

And then come back! I'm only mildly sorry for the clickbaity headline, but glad you're here because it's true: if you love the United States of America, you should travel abroad. Below are five reasons I hope you take my advice and go, but first, some context!


Last month, I went to Morocco on a 7-day adventure with a tour group that accommodates solo travelers. Not only was it surprisingly affordable, but I had access to a local guide who could help me navigate the places we visited, the culture and language, as well as the safety and security practices that would give me the best experience possible. My group consisted of eight other travelers from Australia, South Africa, Canada, England, and the United States. This was not my first trip abroad, but my first to Africa.

Re-energize your gratitude

Nothing will remind you of how privileged we are as a nation and why so many people want to come to the United States than travel abroad. Morocco is considered a first-world country, yet I was humbled when I absolutely had to use the restroom, and the closest spot available was a restaurant where the ladies' room was—wait for it—a hole in the ground. Keep in mind, that was not the Morocco the tour wanted me to see, but it was the one my bladder demanded. Y'all, I have never been so grateful for toilets. 

Go anywhere in Europe, and you will have a 50/50 shot at getting ice without asking or paying for it. Coca-Colas are generally sold in cold bottles with an empty glass. I never thought I'd take ice for granted, but seeing the bewildered face of someone serving hot tea in sweltering heat when you suggested that the beverage would be lovely cold was enough to make you thank your lucky stars for frozen water.


Conveniences abound in the U.S., and being exposed to them so often that we no longer recognize their service is understandable. Traveling will bring new appreciation for elevators, air conditioning, washing machines, drip coffee makers, drive-thrus, and pre-packaged raw meat (although I could make an argument for ditching the last one).

Understand how the U.S. is perceived globally

Some of my Southern Hemisphere companions took the liberty to ask me during a lunch with just the four of us how I felt about Donald Trump. Ever since leaving my professional comms-strategist days in 2015, I've done my best to conceal my politics in unknown groups—mostly because I want people to say what they really think. I gave a level and honest answer, not missing the opportunity to say how I also felt about President Biden. Nothing I said was inflammatory or controversial because I knew I would turn around and ask what they thought. 

These successful, educated, and informed adults spun a Trump tale Margaret Atwood would admire. SkyNews was their named primary news source. After calmly debunking the myths, I explained how most of the media effort to make Trump look bad was to divert attention from the failings of the Biden administration. "You're one of the most well-read and well-spoken Americans we've encountered lately, so thank you for this perspective. It helps us better understand what's really happening."

While it's easy for us to speak passionately about our beliefs, I have found a unique opportunity to be something of an ambassador for conservatism in the United States while traveling. Like the old adage says, "You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar." 


Contribute to their local economy

Politics aside, local merchants usually love Americans because of our generosity. We are accustomed to tipping and paying sticker price, two practices at least Moroccans appreciate. During a shopping trip in Chefchaouen, I learned that haggling was such a common practice that it was considered disrespectful to simply accept full price. I bought a handmade wool rug embroidered with silk from a man called Mustapha; his wife Patima spent seven weeks making it. Putting aside the conversion rate and what such an item would cost in the States was a challenge, so I did a feeble negotiating job, but in the end, everyone shook hands happy.

The average monthly income for Moroccans is 5,000 dirhams, or $500, so patronizing local restaurants, shops, and boutique hotels carries more weight than it does at home. Until this year, the most impoverished Moroccans did not have a state-sponsored welfare program, and they relied solely on charity, one of the pillars of Islam. Many destinations around the world rely on tourism for a significant portion of their revenue, so they want you to have a positive experience, which shows in their hospitality.

Engage your five senses

The primary reason I wanted to travel to Morocco was the food. Bubbling tajines, fragrant teas, fresh-from-the-ground vegetables, bread kneaded by hand—I had to have it—and, wow, did the country deliver. My willingness to try anything (except eggplant, because I'm allergic) opened the door to new tastes and smells, like pastilla, a sweet-and-savory pie that proves chicken, saffron, and powdered sugar (trust me) were meant to be united with flakey pastry dough. At home, I now have a new recipe for leftover rotisserie chicken!


When you visit new places, you'll taste and smell everything differently. For example, if you think you know what cinnamon smells like, wait until you smell it in whole curls that are as tall as you are. One of the members of my tour group swore he hated figs until he ate one plucked straight from the tree; it turns out he adores figs! In a Muslim country, the five calls to prayer were an audible reminder of my own faith, so I prayed an Our Father whenever I heard it and was blessed.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected senses you'll awaken is that of touch. It's one thing to read about history, to look at pictures, to hear from experts or watch a documentary, but it is quite another to walk among the ruins and physically touch them. Greek and Roman columns have always been fascinating to me because "How did they build things that heavy that high?" Sitting atop a Corinthian capital was bewildering. Walking the grounds of an ancient courthouse that became a church when Constantine made Rome Christian made me feel so small in the most inspiring way.

Return a better version of yourself

The best part of any vacation is coming home, sleeping in your own bed, and snacking out of your refrigerator whenever you want. The second best part, though, is realizing that you are not the same person you were when you left only a week ago—you're a better version of yourself. Perhaps you're braver because you took a walking tour by yourself. Maybe you're more adventurous because you tried a camel burger (which is delicious). You could have tapped a deeper sense of purpose or a new energy source. Whatever you've brought back with you, it has become part of who you are that is invited to shine every time you relish a memory, share a picture, or tell a story. 


You don't have to have a lot of money or even go to another continent. There are safe ways to explore the world, and while I won't advocate anyone traveling to Tehran or Mogadishu, places like Mexico, Belize, and Puerto Rico are well within reach. All you need is some research, willpower, and a passport.


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