Traveling: Do it Consciously
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Traveling: Do it Consciously

From your little coffee shop trips or to your favorite foreign paradise

Traveling: Do it Consciously

Summer is halfway over (for those starting school in September) and the farthest I have traveled from home so far is roughly 100 miles to go to San Diego. Not bad. But considering I am an aspiring nomad who wants to travel the world someday, I can conclude that 100 miles is just a dog-walk in the park.

Traveling is the single most popular activity that always sparks conversation from young millennials. Whether it involves traveling to music festivals (for those of you who attended HARD Summer this weekend, I hope you had a blast), going to your local café, or busting out your suitcase to go to your favorite foreign getaway—there is something that traveling always has to offer.

But for those who do not have the luxury of traveling to Europe or even your local but 2-mile-drive coffee shop, do you often find yourself browsing through Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr for pictures of travel destinations? As a frugal (A.K.A cheap) but hopeful traveler of the world, I found myself enticed to one particular account on Twitter, @TheWorldStories. They have posted pictures of the following locations:





Are some of these pictures familiar to you? If not, well then here are some pictures to inform you on the "paradise" you are missing. For a while, I fantasized the day my adventure would begin. With these pictures, you can feel hooked onto the possibilities of what could happen while you are at your destination—proclaiming that traveling is going to be one of your ultimate goals in life. Maybe even making it your only ultimate goal.

However, my brain suddenly decided to register that there is a great distinction between reality and fantasy. When I first looked at these photos, I individualistically thought of what these places could provide for me—satisfying my own pleasures rather holistically taking a step back to diagnose the big picture. Well guess what:

These pictures do not encapsulate the true condition of these places.

Let us take a look again at the same pictures, but with a big fat magnifying glass of perspective.

1. Which part of Africa is that picture from? Morocco? Algeria? Ethiopia? Eritrea? or from the other 50 countries that really do exist in Africa? In some conversations I have had with peers or family, I have noticed that they have generalized Africa as a big country itself. Well here is a quick geography lesson: Africa is a continent that inhabits countless of individuals in cities, in states, and in countries like me and you. If you travel to a country in Africa, be conscious of where you are. There has been a long history of people who have had a distorted view of Africa, but I hope you take the time to understand and educate yourself out of respect for the continent, its countries and peoples, and for your better good.

2. California is a home to a multitude of gorgeous public beaches, but does this picture depict the litter that surrounds them? I have traveled to Huntington Beach, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, La Jolla Shores, and Venice Beach (if you are not from California, the number of beaches I have listed may seem like plenty, but I can assure you there are plenty more). While the beach is where bonfires, games, swimming, tanning, etc. can happen, there is one activity that you may not be aware of. There is always some form of trash irresponsibly laying somewhere that can be attributed to all the fun that people have. If you travel to a beach in California, take care of your own waste. Unimaginably, I wonder what the beaches in California would look like, smell like, and feel like if everyone were to leave it spotless.

3. This place in the Philippines is beautiful, but the entirety of this country is not a pretty island. Though I agree that the Philippines is essentially a series of islands that may inhabit a paradise such as the one in the picture—where snorkeling can take place, boat rafting, swimming, etc.—you must become aware that there is turmoil happening beyond this clear-water tropical gem. Uncannily, while an open body of water may pose as a luxury to others, it can also pose as a struggle to some, take these school kids in the Philippines for example. Some students need to swimto get to school, about half a mile exactly. While this is something you may not regularly think about when you go on vacation, does this fact not boggle your mind? Even a little bit?

4. Now, onto the Big Apple, where everything seems possible as the twinkly lights and tall skyscrapers make you feel like the city has a spotlight just for you. This was what I anticipated on the bus ride to New York City. This might be what most people feel when they take their first trip to the Manhattan Island. While peoples' experiences can be told differently, the facts about what can be seen there is a one-story description: land and air pollution, homeless people, etc. The lust that I felt for the city, just vanished. The land and air or the homeless people were not the problem, but the perpetrators responsible for putting them in those conditions.

With all these in mind, the image of a perfect vacation is shattered when you look beyond the mirage of what could be. It is imperative to branch out of solely thinking what a place could do for you. What can you do to honor these places? To show them the respect they deserve as a part of Earth? These locations can only remain full of life if you do your part to maintain them. Though a continent is mistaken for a country, beaches have a vast amount of litter, an island houses impoverished children, or a city contains homeless citizens are problematic elements that you may not feel responsible for, what are the chances that those responsible will step up to take responsibility?

I hope some of you clean up the plastic and beer bottles, gum wrappers, and light-up pool noodles you see at a future music festival or appropriately dispose of your waste at the café you visited.

I am not maliciously attacking the user that controls that travel Twitter account. I am merely stating an observation that I believe is significant for you to take note of as well. No matter where you go, what you do there, and how you leave, be a responsible traveler.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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