The Trouble With Travel: Is The Journey Worth It?
Everyone says they love to travel. The countless photos shared on social media, the #takemeback and #tbt hashtags to continue sharing images of landmarks, sunsets, and meals eaten. I’m guilty of all of this, yet I find trouble in modern travel.
The Other Costs of Travel
Who doesn’t enjoy the luxury of a hotel stay, with the plush beds, housekeeping, swimming pools, and room service? While you could argue that your expense to stay in an oceanfront resort funds the economy and creates jobs, that hotel wasn’t there before. The jungle, the sand, the beach, were all there before the concrete and bricks built the luxury. A piece of that is gone, and more pieces of an ecosystem are being stripped away to make more of it. Not only are resorts being built, but so are condos and vacation properties. that serve as income properties, reducing the availability of affordable housing for the locals. I’ve begun to ask myself if so-called “comforts” are worth it. Do they really need to build more?
As I ask myself this question, I think about my visits to developing countries. The discomfort of using “toilets” and bathing in ways that are different than home. Yes, hot running water, air conditioning, and fluffy pillows are fun, but it also makes us forget where we’re going. We’ve made travel predominantly westernized and homogenous. A chain hotel follows the requirements of their brand, whether it is in Europe, North America, South America or Asia, perhaps with some slight differences.
What I’ve noticed about tourists in Hawai’i is they expect that they’re still in the United States. The think that everything is still just as it was in their home in another state. The hotel chain is the same, despite the surroundings, yet expectations of everything being like home can sometimes lead to disappointment. Unfortunately, the disappointment can sometimes lead to disrespect of the local environment and people. While this isn’t everyone, I do know that it happens.
Divided, We Travel
As eye-opening and amazing as travel can be, sadly, travel has a way of separating people. There are the haves and have-nots. Those with the financial means can go where those without cannot. Destinations become status symbols, and goals of topping the over-the-topness of another’s social media photos. It also separates the visitors from the locals, with those haves looking-down on those have-nots.
Have we lost sight of what it means to be immersed in a journey and the joy of discovery? I truly hope not. I want visitors to learn to surf, catch a glimpse of sea turtles, and learn the meaning behind hula. I also want them to realize what it means to be there, to consider the sacrifices the locals make to welcome them into their homeland, how sacred the water and land are to all the living creatures and why they shouldn’t litter. Travel is learning from the discomfort of what makes a place different from home and finding it beautiful.
Let go of the expectations, because the world is an amazing place to explore.
I’m not expecting everyone to backpack their way around there world. I just want us to think about how fortunate we are to experience modern travel and consider ways of being more mindful along the way. If there are ways we can be better travelers, let’s try.