Marco Polo had multiple reasons for traveling as widely as he did, and this thirteenth-century explorer certainly put on the miles as he journeyed from his home in Venice through China, Central Asia, India, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
First, travel was in Marco Polo's blood. His father and uncle were merchants and avid travelers, and Polo actually journeyed with them in the beginning. Imagine the young Polo listening to their stories and becoming extremely excited about seeing the world. It would be enough to turn any boy's head and set his heart on fire with curiosity and a desire to travel.
Of course, Marco Polo's father and uncle also had financial motivations for their journeys. They were merchants who wanted to trade for exotic goods they could bring home and sell for large amounts of money, and that is exactly what they did. The famous Silk Road was at the heart of their travels, as was the Mediterranean Sea.
Polo traveled with his father and uncle for the first time when he seventeen years old, and this started his career as arguably the world's most well-traveled man of his day. The trio arrived in the court of Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who proceeded to send Polo on missions around his empire. Polo was to learn about the peoples and customs of the places he visited as well as their resources and trade potential. Polo's curiosity and interest in exotic cultures only grew through these voyages, and he traveled as Kublai Khan's representative for nearly seventeen years.
When the three Polos finally left Kublai Khan (for they were nervous what would happen to them when the powerful ruler died), they took the long way home, for they wanted to see still other parts of the world. They were also commissioned to escort a princess to her new husband in Persia. After over two years, they finally arrived back in Venice.