I love the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, especially the magic of the 1971 original starring Gene Wilder. It's a wonderful tale of dreams coming true and I've watched it many times. And each time I do, one part of it always makes me smile and feel good about life itself. In fact it has even been an inspiration me to travel the world.
Do you remember when Charlie is telling Grandpa George that he's won a golden ticket to visit the Wonka chocolate factory? He is so excited but then pauses for a moment to remember that their family is very poor. He's a good boy and wants to do the right thing. But when he suggests that maybe they could sell the ticket to earn some money for more important things, Grandpa George will have none of it! He's even more excited than Charlie and tells the boy:
"There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket -- there are only five of them in the whole world and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?" Charlie replies "No, sir" to which Grandpa George smiles widely and gives him two thumbs up. "Then get that mud off your pants," he says with unbridled excitement, "You've got a factory to go to!"
What great words those are. With his years of wisdom, what is Grandpa George really telling Charlie? He's saying that in his hand he's holding a golden and once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the moment for him to do something extraordinary and quite possibly life-changing. Only a fool would give it up for money. There's plenty of money in the world but even all of it together won't equal this experience.
And so it is with travel. I quickly recognized the truth in the saying "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer". Because wealth is not only defined by our bank balance. It can also in so many other aspects of our life such as unique experiences far from home, having an intimate understanding of other cultures, the joy of tasting new food or making new friends. Even a treasured photograph or the pride and satisfaction of being able to say 'yes, I've been there' or 'I've done that' can be priceless.
In our lives, a golden Wonka ticket doesn't need to be winning the lottery or inheriting a lot of money. It is simply the opportunity to do something. If you want to travel and see the world, then embrace the excitement of Grandpa George. Don't worry about the money it's going to cost or how little you'll have when you return home. They print more every day and you'll be able to earn some later. For now though, don't be a dummy -- take the trip and live your dream while you can!
So, do you have the golden ticket of opportunity? If you do then get that mud off your pants because you've got a world to explore! Twenty years from now you'll have only regret if you don't.