Have you read those articles that tell you that an Eat Pray Love experience will lead to some transformational breakthrough? And that traveling will (gasp) turn you into a better person? Well, that’s all bunk. Sort of.
Getting that iconic shot, hopping on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and taking a ride in a tuk-tuk will not suddenly turn you into a kinder, fairer, and more empathic person. No, you’re not automatically made more worldly with each new stamp in your passport.
Here’s how travel can help make you a better person
Travel to visit, not just to vacation
When you vacation, you go to a destination with the intent to be waited upon by hotel and resort staff. (Or you’re just there to party.)
When you arrive as a visitor, you’re there to experience the place and appreciate its unique culture in meaningful ways.
Travel to learn, not just to lounge
Listen, I can veg out on my couch— I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on flights and accommodations to be lazy in a hotel room. Sure, slow and sleepy beach days are sacred. But a trip to a different locale deserves your attention dedicated to the area’s offerings, customs, and history.
Travel to mingle, not just to be a tourist
The beauty of modern travel is that we have the ability and privilege of exploring the world, all with relative ease. We can meet people from all over— so take the time to make new friends, or at least talk to people!
Take photos for the memories, not just for the Insta
I recently wrote a piece about the ethical impact of living in an Instagrammable world and how influencers should approach content creation and influencing with respect. Srs, I’m this close to advocating for a “Responsible Instagrammer” course as a high school graduation requirement. Kidding! (Or am I?)
Wait, are you saying I can’t enjoy my vacation?!
Nope, not saying that at all.
Of course, you can enjoy your vacation guilt-free and with no responsibility to participate in some deep cultural immersion if that’s not what you want. My point is that there’s a difference between being a vacationer and being a traveler. The outcomes of each approach to travel are different but not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Are you looking for a break from the mundanities of your daily life? Go on a vacation and drink all the margaritas you want.
Are you seeking answers, perhaps spiritual and intellectual expansion, and maybe a bit of personal growth? Go travel, learn, and explore. (Or at least add a museum, a local cultural experience, or UNESCO tour to your vacation itinerary!)