Article: Travel Is Not A Contest

photo from the article:

A beautiful article on traveling deep and slow. Click THIS to read it.

My favorite quotes from the article:

“Sure they get home with a lot of nice pictures, but have they accumulated much else in terms of experience, depth or personal growth?”

“You’ve heard it in the common room of every youth hostel, or bellied up to the bar your first night on that island beach in Belize, “Where have you been? How many countries have you visited?… here’s my list,” and then we set out to one-up each other. This is wrong. Travelers, especially avid travelers, tend to act like it’s a contest. Number of countries, cities, amusement parks, national monuments, museums, or wonders of the world visited is not what matters. Travel should not be about filling in that world map tattoo on your shoulder fastest. It’s not about bigger, better, or faster. Nor is it about pushing more pins into the map on your wall than your parents did. What is it about? Authenticity. Who defines that? You do. We know people who’ve gone “round the world” in three months. We know others who have goals to set foot in every country by a certain date. Still others who pride themselves on visiting the biggest, the best, or the fastest something. None of these goals is wrong, quite the contrary, what a cool idea: to spend a lifetime pursuing a big dream. The problem comes when we begin to measure ourselves, or others, by those lists. We spent a whole year cycling through ten European countries. Some people think that’s an amazing amount to see in a year. Others can’t believe we wasted all that time when we could have seen so much more. Neither opinion matters. What matters is that we did it our way, in our time, and grew according to our own passions and bents during that time and since.”

“The antidote? Rent a little casita and dig into a place where you don’t speak the language. You’ll be forced to become part of the community, and you won’t be able to go running to the hostel desk for help the next time you get stuck in some way. This is where the real learning often begins. But, to do that takes time. It won’t happen on a one or two week vacation. In our experience, it takes about a month to really settle into a place and begin to find your groove. It’s not something most people can do very often, but it’s life changing when you can. Every traveler should try to do it once, at least. Going deep instead of wide can change your life.”

“I remember thinking, “You guys have taken a lot of picture postcards, but have you actually been anywhere?”

“Perhaps the most important life skill to develop is presence, whether we ever leave our hometowns or not. To learn to be in a moment, to experience it, for better or for worse, fully, without distraction is a worthwhile goal.”

“The three countries and five cities in fourteen days tour is going to make it almost impossible to truly be present in any one moment for very long. Slowing down, trying to “see less” and “be more,” is an excellent way to develop presence in your journey. Most people would say that one of the reasons they travel is to learn. Learning happens in layers. We learn from the outer onion skin of guidebooks and websites, we go deeper by visiting museums and cultural events. Very few take the time to go even deeper by developing connections with locals, relationships with individuals or roles in communities.”

“It’s completely possible to check a place off your list and really have never “been there” at all”

“If it’s all about the contest then I can almost guarantee that a person has barely breached the outer layer of the onion. There’s just no substitute for setting aside travel agendas and itineraries in exchange for interactions with real people who make up a culture. Take the necessary time, at least once in this lifetime, to slow down, to learn, to digest, and allow a new place to change who you are, from the inside out. Isn’t this why we begin traveling in the first place?”


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