It is becoming increasingly easier for us to travel and to understand that the canonized view of the world that we see on the news isn’t quite accurate. Fear is being manufactured at an alarming rate by politicians, news outlets, and individuals who subscribe to the world view that the world is a crazy, scary place. If one is to stay in his or her own tiny section of this earth, experiencing nothing more than his or her life situation, this assertion seems to be accurate – because how else could the idea be challenged?
But travel has a way of breaking down these ideas and educating individuals. Travel teaches one things that books simply cannot. To us, it seems pretty evident why this is. One can read someone’s opinions, thoughts, and observations (like you’re presently doing) and yet not fully grasp a concept. However, when one experiences firsthand some of the things we are about to divulge, the truth seems incontrovertible.
Before we jump into our points, we wanted to share one of our favorite quotes about travel:
Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be. – Anonymous
Regardless of where you come from, you want healthy relationships, to love and be loved, to be happy, to have a sense of security, and to eat well. It all goes back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People simply have different ways of fulfilling these needs.
If you focus on the main themes of each religion and not the minuscule bits that makeup church doctrine, you’ll learn that every religion is virtually the same. Just about every major religion teaches love, balance, patience, self-sacrifice, prayer/meditation/devotional practices, etc. We all worship the same God(s), we just have different names for them. When we love one another, we glorify whichever God it is we claim to praise on Sunday (or Saturday).
Cities like Detroit and Chicago have way more violence to worry about than the cities the news discusses during their prime time fear mongering. The world simply isn’t a scary dangerous place. We felt safer and more comfortable walking through the streets of Havana at 02:00 AM than we do walking through parts of Los Angeles at the same time. Sure, there have been terrorist attacks in European cities lately. However, there have been plenty terrorist attacks here in the US, ranging from Islamic extremist terrorist, to domestic terrorism. We have school shootings, movie theater shootings, drive bys, etc. You don’t need to leave the US to experience danger and terror. You can just stay at home.
Countries you generalize as being smelly, aren’t. They just don’t use antiperspirant deodorant. You try being in 90-degree heat + humidity without antiperspirant. You’d smell too. There is a truth behind many stereotypes…but be careful, because that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re less offensive.
Mark Mason, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K, highlights this point incredibly well. He discusses his travels in depth, especially his time living in Russia. Initially, he was surprised by how “rude” people were. After he had spent a period of months there and made a number of friends, he realized that people aren’t rude in Russia. There are simply cultural differences between the US and Russia. Americans want to be overly-friendly and almost sales-y in a way. This can greatly be attributed to our capitalistic society and our history. Russians have historically been forced to be brutally honest with one another and have avoided putting up facades to please others. Similarly, this can be attributed to their experience with communism and the Cold War. They’re just brutally honest. And there is a beauty to that type of honesty. Anyway, read the book. It’s a fantastic read and Mark explains his point much better than we are doing here.
Textbooks and classes in school want to teach you the differences that you and other cultures have. Traveling will teach you what you have in common.
We are indoctrinated in a way of life that teaches us to believe a certain religion, adapt to certain cultural and political beliefs etc. Perhaps there is no definitive way to do something, but a number of paths. This will enable you to be a better partner in your romantic relationships as well. When you realize that both you and your partner could be right about how to do something, you’ll likely be more humble in your approach.
Travel puts one in challenging and stressful situations. You’re not only out of your comfort zone while traveling but also challenged in ways you likely haven’t been challenged in your life at home. These challenges will build you as a person (or a couple if you travel together with your partner) and will teach you that patience is an incredibly attainable virtue.
“Things” are depreciating assets. Investing in travel and experiences make one rich. They say that travel is the only thing you can spend your money on that makes your “richer.” When you travel extensively, you learn just how little you need. We are inundated with advertisements in the States (and other countries) that tell us we aren’t happy because we don’t have A, B, C, fucking whatever. You don’t need that shit. You just think you do because your neighbor has it. And (s)he only has it because (s)he feels that it makes him or her more complete in some self-satisfying way. Do you really want your life to be nothing more than working to buy things you don’t TRULY need?
If you’ve seen the movie Into The Wild, then you know we can’t take credit for this one. We want to mitigate a spoiler, but this is one of our favorite quotes from the movie. Whether you’re with your partner, your family, etc. or simply with a complete stranger halfway around the world, happiness is always best when shared.