There is a growing body of people whose hearts exist in places they haven’t yet discovered, and a profession of that love has become ever more apparent in the growing body of writers who focus on their passion for travel. Travel has become a focal point for more and more writers as it has become possible for people at almost every financial level. Food, drink, entertainment, and accommodations dominate the literary world of travel, and represents a vast majority of the most popular social media searches. Even I, who historically has not been a travel writer, am trying my hand at an upcoming travel piece, and may make it a regular focal point of this blog.
Before we talk about the beauty of travel, and before we delve into all of my recommended eats and drinks, I feel it’s of the utmost importance to talk about the responsibility of the traveler.
Traveling has taught me one of the most important things in life; it is more important to listen to what people are telling you, about their life, values, experiences, and perspectives, than it is to inflict your own values, assumptions, or biases on to the situation, especially about people and places we don’t understand.
This makes learning from travel your responsibility.
While the travel industry has become more accommodating, many people still do not have the privilege of travel or the chance to learn from people in new places, so I keep in mind with every adventure I pursue, I accept more responsibility for promoting understanding in this world. Understanding above assumptions about people in places that we don’t know how to make sense of. Loving people as they are, and understanding above all else.
This my lovelies, makes promoting understanding your responsibility.
In all of this, adventurous one, you will find the ability within you to be peaceful, because despite how chaotic the world is determined to make itself, it all makes a lot more sense when you travel. You must keep in mind that this is only possible if you are able to embrace places that test your comfort zone, and approach people and places with genuine curiosity and care. It’s your responsibility to help others make sense of the world, but you cannot do so if you only go places that make sense to you.
So my adventurer, it is not only your responsibility to promote understanding, but to travel places that are outside of the cultural narratives that make you comfortable.
As travelers, so many of us want to live by our own terms, but we forget that living by ones own dictation requires a lot of self discovery. Self discovery isn’t this easy or instantaneous thing. Contrarily, it’s pretty confusing, often messy, deeply irrational, and always uncomfortable. It is also wildly courageous. It takes audacity to confront yourself in that way and grit to do things differently. Even you will have to re-meet yourself on the other side of it all. Like any seed that has ever bloomed, you too will have to break open in order to discover how strong your roots can become.
My dear traveler, embracing this self discovery is also your responsibility.
Keep in mind, the beauty of self discovery is that you will live on your own terms. Love on your own terms. Be happy on your own terms. Pursue dreams that were outside of your preconceived notions of how you thought you should be. But make no mistake beautiful one, this will come at a cost – the person you are becoming will cost you people, places, and things. Choose self discovery over them all.
Stories, truly great stories, are almost always people. Recognizing the different ways that people tell their stories makes travel exciting. If you can learn to recognize architecture and music, color schemes and food, patterns and craftsmanship as an equal testament of the people as the literature they leave behind, your adventures will take on greater meaning, and what you discover becomes even more beautiful. Buildings and streets and patterns and food and literature are all memoirs. Recognize this, and you will learn the people’s stories. Fall in love with these stories. Life is too short to not be captivated by the world around you.
Finding joy in these discoveries is your most important responsibility.
In all of this, do not forget to be a good steward wherever you are going. Be kind to the people, treat the places you visit with respect, be self aware, don’t cut in line, dress appropriately, put garbage in a receptacle, listen carefully, and remember that even though this is temporary for you, it is not temporary to the people (and/or animals) you encounter.
Lastly dear traveler, it is your responsibility to witness and remember this world. You must be prepared to carry on its history and stories and traditions, and propel the world forward with that knowledge. Too much has already been lost.
Happy travels, and get ready for all the places in life I think you should see.