Travel: The First-Worlds Contrived Rite of Passage.

Whether restricted by monetary, health, familial or personal reasons, world travel is an opportunity reserved for a very lucky few and barred to many. I have been fortunate enough to travel more than many but much less than some. The opportunities have afforded me everything stated above and I have grown tremendously from it. I am lucky to have been able to do it, to continue to do it and I will never stop or take it for granted.

To experience distant countries and cultures that contrast my own so profoundly drives and instills in me a longing to explore that no amount of travel will ever be able to satisfy. There are far more countries than years in this life making it impossible to see and enjoy all of them with the depth and understanding they deserve.

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I am infatuated by an infinitely wide range of food, religions, music and lifestyles that surround the small pocket of culture that can be found in North America. Every border crossing, every regional division, every unique tradition offers a new and fascinating perspective on life. A perspective not accessible from a couch or desk chair situated mere inches from a screen attempting to simulate a similar cultural experience through images captured by those actually living it.

For avid travelers, the discomfort of being an outsider in a place where you don't speak the language, a place that challenges your emotional, mental and physical fortitude is what makes travelling all worth it. Being the foreigner puts you in a different pair of shoes with each country you visit. The isolation one feels even in a busy crowd when travelling shows you the sheer immensity and diversity of the world. The otherness provides a juxtaposition through which to judge yourself. To learn who you are when you aren't a part of the homogenized group.

One important thing I learned from the long plane rides, dinky hostel lodgings, constant walking and endless frustration with my inability to communicate my wishes with locals (clearly all my fault) is that travel is not for everyone. For me, it's everything. For others, it is of little importance.

But that doesn't stop people from going

As a culture, more specifically North American middle-classed college or university students in their 20s, travelling the world has become an imperative of finding yourself or growing up. So much so that even personalities (maybe best characterized as prissy) completely adverse to the dirty and risky aspects of traveling on a tight budget can be found bitching and moaning as they grudgingly drag their feet and packs into a 12 euro a night hostel (a price that offers a dorm shared by some 6 to a dozen other poorly bathed and road weary backpackers). The conflated idea of this travelling rite of passage has forced many young North Americans into taking a backpacking trip that in no way suits them.

You can usually find these travelers huddled in the usual touristy spots drinking the day away and eating McDonalds for that greasy, sloppy and completely culturally void comfort of home. The female travelers of this sort will have found room in their bulging backpacks for much needed necessities like hairdryers and straighteners. The men on the other hand will be sure to have brought ample stock of musky cologne and have spent a considerable amount of time bronzing, waxing and grooming before departure; in hopes of enticing that vacation fling for another notch in the belt.

For this reason, before planning your next trip (or first trip) overseas ask yourself why you are going. Are you going because you want to find yourself passed out in the bathroom of a European rave (a drinking binge easily accomplished from the comfort of your own local bar)? Is it just because your best friend did it last summer and you're feeling the effects of FOMO (Feeling Of Missing Out)? Are you going to just to say you have to check that box on the itinerary of being a person of affluence?

Travelling has become trendy more than anything else. It has become nothing more than an accessory like a fancy new watch or a Michael Kors purse. It is losing it's intrinsic value of life experience, cultural learning, tolerance and enlightenment. The point is being sorely missed by a frat mentality that leverages a once in a lifetime learning experience into an attempt to climb the social ladder.

Being given the chance to see the world is not a right. It is not some accomplishment to be taken lightly. It isn't a necessity of life unless you want it to be. Nor is it a crime if you don't travel at all. Decide for yourself what it is you hope to get out of it and don't abuse the opportunity as a memorial of something cool you've done in life.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 12/08/2019






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