First, we both come by it genetically. Our fathers each had itchy feet but had settled down by the time they had families. For us the itch has never gone away and now is only limited by funds and physical abilities.
We've been in all the states of the union plus most of the Canadian provinces. We've traveled by sailboat, if you can call that snail's pace traveling, but we did cross an international border, however slowly. We landed our own airplane in 39 states one summer. We've driven coast-to-coast numerous times and have lived in the Northwest, the Northeast, the Southeast and the Southwest quadrants of the United States. We go to Mexico for our dental work and good tacos. We were in France on 9/11 and in Germany a few days after the invasion of Iraq.
I hesitate to resort to that old cliche about travel being a 'broadening experience' since I always come back weighing more than I left. But, quite frankly, a major reason we travel is to eat. When in Texas at lunchtime, we find the barbecue joint unless we are on the coast, then we look for shrimp. In France, we find the charcuterie or the fromagerie and buy cold cuts and cheese to go with that fantastic bread. In Brittany I pig out on mussels everywhere I can. In Germany, it's all those different kinds of wurst. In Belgium, it's the beer. I could go on and on.....
Everywhere we go, we meet interesting people and have fascinating experiences. You can find places in the USA where the habits of the natives are almost as different from our own as are the habits of the English or the French. We have come to understand that people everywhere are the same in many regards but hold differing views on many topics, ranging from politics to how close behind your bumper it is acceptable to drive. This is as true of Massachusetts as it is of Madrid. We don't have to agree with them, but it always helps to know why the other guy reacts like he does. Maybe we can even learn something for ourselves.
Despite what Rick Steves and other well-meaning folks say, there are relatively few things that we 'must see' while traveling. My anthropological training has given me an interest in how people live and Al's engineering training gives him yet another perspective. How many other people do you know who made a side trip to see the vast (and abandoned) steel mills in the Ruhr valley? We both like being in the outdoors and would rather hike in the Rockies or the Alps than spend a lot of time in big cities.
There are many more places on earth to visit than we have the time, money and physical stamina to enjoy. We are both at the age where we are no longer interested in trekking through Nepal or undertaking any trip that involves sleeping on the ground for more than a couple of nights. My idea of hell is being stuck on a cruise ship or on a package tour.
We strive for maximum flexibility so that we can take advantage of unforeseen opportunities. And the unexpected is what travel is all about. Otherwise, you might as well stay home.