“Holy shit I can’t believe I’m actually here right now.”
Beyond our tiny ponds are oceans like we can't imagine. After we've had a taste, it's easy to come back and tell everyone how great it is out there. We post photos online to show how much fun we're having. We tell stories, bring back souvenirs, and constantly relive those days with #tbts. But traveling doesn’t make you cultured, volunteering doesn’t make you kind, going to concerts don't make you interesting, and did it really happen if you didn’t post photos online to prove it?
“Oh my god it was so amazing – you NEED to go.”
We rarely admit it so let’s: Traveling in the social sphere is to prove wealth, abundance, access to opportunities that others may not have. We forget to see beyond our privilege – mixing perks with necessities. We tell other people that they should travel as if they never wanted to in the first place as if we've come back wiser and full of information about what it's like out there.
Additionally, many travel without understanding or appreciating where they've been. Many go to famous sites to take a picture and leave. (They might as well hit up these fake tourist attractions and call it quits.) They come and live in districts built for tourists, that are far from representations of what the majority of the city is like. Tourists shop in branded stores identical to thousands all around the world and eat non-adventurous food that reminds them of home.
Okay, that's a little presumptuous of me, but that's what tourism is. If we don't put in the extra effort of learning about the cultures we visit, about experiencing the authentic local lifestyles, what wisdom are we really bringing back to our little pond?
Perhaps you do want to go somewhere just for a change of scenery and to turn off your mind. And that’s perfectly fine! But when we treat traveling as a necessity to personal growth, we limit the growth of those who can’t travel, and we fuel an unhealthy relationship with social media and personal image.
Travelling can be great to explore different cultures, and see different ways of living and enjoying life – of “broadening our horizons” and all that bullsh*t. And it’s true if we immerse ourselves and actually open ourselves to the new culture when we’re there, and not isolate ourselves with touristic trivialism. And if we can’t travel, we can broaden our cultural horizons through literature, films, (um hello, the Internet?), and even travel through Google Street View (it’s life-changing).
And hey, there are two sides to every coin. Here's to making yourself feel a serious case of wanderlust, and here's to crushing those dreams.
Let's all first travel with our minds before we take our first steps.