Our generation is focused on traveling more than anything these days. The idea of stepping out of our comfort zones and creating new experiences is the reigning paradigm, and I think that’s wonderful.
However, there seems to be a sense of superficiality and elitism seeping into this idea of the global citizen, possible stemming from the fact that world travel has traditionally been a hobby of the wealthy. Many people are treating travel culture as a new way to one-up others; this attitude actively works against the values and mindsets that globetrotters used to pride themselves on.
I think it’s wonderful that we’re building a culture centered on expanding our horizons; who can knock that? But, with every trend there are downsides. Here are a few thoughts regarding our new passport obsessed culture.
A new level of consumerism
Across social media we’re bombarded with it; “experience this,” “you have to travel here,” “buy experiences not things.” It’s inescapable, especially with the ever increasing role of “sharing” in our lives; many people are constantly itching for that perfect photo to capture those experiences.
Sounds fun, but there are some who are using this culture to reach new levels of elitism. We all know who I’m talking about, that person that goes on 1 or 2 trips and comes back with a new sense of snobbishness. You can’t tell them anything, your perspective doesn’t matter to them because they’ve sipped tea while people watching at a cafe in Vienna (or some shit like that), so they’ve reached a new level of enlightenment…
People are treating traveling the way sneaker-heads treat Jordan’s; flaunting them, rubbing them in others faces, and generally being dicks about them. As if those sneakers or that trip suddenly puts them above the person who doesn’t have it as good.
Traveling is so supposed to make you a better person, yes; however it does not, nor will it ever make you better than the next person. If you’ve come home from your most recent trip with some photos and a new bag of pretentiousness, leave the latter at the airport and come share the fun you had. We’re all great people no matter how many air miles we’ve racked up.
Many people can’t afford it, despite how “cheap” you think it is
Globetrotters have a really bad habit of unintentionally making people feel bad for their lack of travel. Often times, it’s done in a way that may seem motivational to the offender. Telling people that they aren’t living their lives fully, that their wasting their best years, etc., etc.
The fact is, many people cannot afford to travel. You’re already setting up your argument aren’t you, I can hear you now: “I don’t make much and I’m able to travel.” That may be true, but that doesn’t mean your situation can be applied to everyone equally. We have a bad habit of believing that if we are able to do something, in this case travel, the next person should be able to do the same thing.
Unfortunately, circumstances vary from person to person and not everybody is going to be able to embark on frequent journeys across the globe.
Accept that, share your experiences, but understand that you’re in a position to do what you’re doing, not everyone can afford that.
It’s about the experience, not the “likes”
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this article, globetrotting is about the experiences. Heading to new destinations to take-in the scenery, art, culture, and language; these are the most fulfilling aspects of traveling. Although, some of us seemed to be more concerned with the “likes” than the experiences.
A lot of people are gearing their travels to destinations that make for the best sharing. Bypassing the people and culture when they arrive and searching for the best shots to take and share their photos.
But if you’re constantly running around the map chasing “likes” are you really gaining from your travels? Are you really returning with a new level of understanding and a deeper connection to the world? Nahhhh, of course not; but you got a fuck-ton of comments on those photos right?
If you come home from one of your big trips and you can barely speak on the country you visited, then maybe you should really rethink your priorities for your next trip. Let’s bring this culture back to what it’s really about, a deeper understanding of the world and the sense of fulfillment that comes from having gone somewhere foreign to see the globe in a new light.
Collecting passport stamps is a great and interesting hobby. Each of those stamps probably comes with some pretty interesting stories and wonderful experiences. Let’s remember that traveling goes beyond the stamps, the “likes”, and the acknowledgment from friends.
It’s ALSO about self-reflection, gaining new experiences, finding fulfillment and finding a deeper understanding of a culture that may be a lot different than yours.