A pamphlet | Why you shouldn’t travel

I look at snaps and Instastories everyday. They anger me. It should not be any of my concern and yet I feel like I have to speak for this generation of spoiled brats. Yes, I mean that. So this is a by no means a harangue, but rather an appeal to the Millennial generation to reflect on their ignorant behaviour. SO here it goes – why you shouldn’t travel.

Travelling is said to open up your mind. It opens up your mind in that is exposes you to other cultures, their languages, their cuisines, their very essence. It gives you insight into its history and narrative of a country. But all these things don’t mean anything if you don’t open your senses to indulge in this abundance of cultural knowledge.

Travel makes you realize that no matter how much you know, there is always something to learn

Instead people travel to a country because of its Instagrammability. Yes you heard right – that word exists indeed! – and describes the profound idiocy of choosing a country merely based on its ability to produce great snaps. Tourists go on holiday to take glorious pictures, oblivious of the beauty and people surrounding them. They order the same boring cuisines or even nonlocal that they can taste at home, unwilling to immerse themselves into the unknown. The rush from place to place to tick off their bucket list, so eager to show that they have “seen it all” (How many times did I hear that? Duh. Reality check – you can never see everything –not even as a local). They don’t reflect on local customs or habits because they are too busy completing their bucket list. They don’t reflect on the spirit of the respective country, because it is of no interest to them. They don’t think about supporting the local businesses unless it is trendy (alpaca sweaters in Peru etc.)

Sadly, I have many people in my circle and on Instagram who even partly display this kind of behaviour, too. After returning from a holiday they wouldn’t be able to tell you about the city, local food, the history or anything for that matter. But hey!- they ticked off THEIR (‘unique’) bucket list.

So here is my personal advice – and I by no means wish to insult anyone. But if the above applies to you then maybe think about this:

….you shouldn’t travel if you just want to visit a place for the sake of ticking it off – seek your own adventures and ask yourself what you personally want to gain from your experience abroad.

you should not travel to be ignorant to the people around you, for you a visiting their home and thus should be respectful of your surroundings. Ask locals for their favourite spots – who would know the place better than someone who lives there.

you should not travel if you intend to eat the same stuff that you get served at home, unwilling to experiment with local traditional dishes. Do you know what is traditional and where the cuisine historically roots? There’s even the opportunity to eat with locals and support local produce wherever you go!

you should not travel if you don’t want to learn anything about the country’s history. You don’t have to become and expert but what is the point in visiting the Place de la Bastille if you don’t care about the French Revolution, or the Aztec Temples if you could not care less about the history of Mexico?

you should not travel to take pictures of monuments simply because you want to tell everyone you have been there. I myself love to take pictures of popular places – but I always keep a special memory of each place. I have lid a candle in Sacré Coeur for someone dear to my heart. I have danced on the Red Square to violin music of a young artists. It’s not measuring the moments in comparison to other people’s experience, but about your very own unique and memorable moments. I will forever hold on to these precious moments – and they are just my own.

And don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to become a member of National Geographic expert to travel correctly and everyone is entitled to their very own experience, but it just makes me wonder. I just find it sad when I see masses of tourists snapping away in the Pantheon in Rome without taking a second to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings. Without grasping the amazingness of such an ancient place. Will the ever look back at their selfie and say that that was a truly magical moment? I doubt it. They sit on ruins that have outlived generations and take pictures at sacred places. These places take so much to conserve – we should not disrespect them.

All I ask for is a bit more mindfulness in a world that numbs their senses with a thousand impressions and snaps at once. Travelling is such a privilege and should therefore be celebrated and worshipped. It should be embraced and practices with a respectful and ethical behavior. My generation has such a feeling of entitlement. It is as if travelling was their very own right. As if the places they visit are given.

Yet, we are so lucky to be able to travel anywhere in the world and get in touch with the most divergent culture, – to have a meal in Shanghai the one night and dive in the Great Barrier Reef the other (if we can afford it lol). So next time you find yourself in a different country – do something crazy and every now and then put your phone aside and live this glorious moment. Be mindful and respectful towards the locals and historical sights.

I even urge you to make a bucket list – but do it for yourself – for your own wisdom and fun.

Travelling can help you grow in so many ways – but you have to open up it to it completely and utterly to be able to mature.

Cheers J & S


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