Technology has connected the farthest reaches of the world with the push of the button. Airlines connect any two cities of the world with powerful single and twin aisle aircraft. You can be in another place in a matter of minutes or hours, and unless you are walking, driving cross country or on a boat, no journey takes days or weeks anymore. Air travel and cruise ships are affordable. Even renting an RV for a road trip is doable. Saving for a family vacation is not as hard as people make it sound, especially now that you can start a GoFundMe page. There is no shame in asking for a sensible personal loan or for sponsorship; there are many people willing to help or contests to win.
It is sad to be a part of a society that caters to tourism, yet doesn’t inspire nor allow their own laborers to take vacation and enjoy the benefits of travel. You see it in the ads and commercials: affluent locations with poolside service, or little escapes to fish to the nearby lake or campsite. There’s one flaw in the advertising though, the people behind the tourism campaign forgot to tell you in the commercial that at a modest price, you could share in on the fun and have a satisfying vacation and that you can actually take the time off to travel without losing your job. Many of these destinations have low end experiences that don’t involve roach motels and could very well be enhanced by using your Costco, AAA or employee perks. The cover picture for this post is an innocuous example of how we miss the point. It is not about being minimalists and never owning stuff. The truth is we don’t sell achievable hopes and dreams to people, and we barely give them a map to reach every day goals like not living paycheck to paycheck and how to save, especially for travel. Consumerism didn’t teach them to make travel a part of their lifestyle.
If you look up how many people in the USA have passports, you’d be surprised to learn that only 37% of U.S. Citizens have them. We are not told to get one in case we need it since the majority of us never will. That is so sad! Our culture doesn’t value learning about other cultures or places, or exhorts us to expand our horizons with foreign experiences and thoughts. We need to reinstate the American Vacation. I understand that travel abroad or outside of your comfort zone can be unnerving, especially because change is very scary, but a vacation is a welcomed lesson about life and who we are. It opens a door to who we could aspire to be too! I know not everyone is prepared to grow and seek counsel to do things they haven’t tried before because most of us fear death so much we do our best to get safely to old age and shoot down opportunities to push our limits and boundaries. However, there is more value in being brave and traveling to distant lands, than in dying knowing we arrived safely, and very boringly, to our death beds.
Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences you can give yourself. It is definitely about the journey and not the destination. Whether you do it by yourself, with kids, with a significant other, married, single or with your parents and siblings, seeing the world with your own two eyes and sharing in on that experience makes us more prepared to understand the realities of the world, giving us the perspective we need to figure out where we fit in the big fabric of the cosmos. By being in another country, state, city or even town, you can learn about how other humans live, work, play and enrich their lives. Seeing how other people find and manage happiness can free you, giving you a new mindset. In a society where everything is so highly processed and sanitized for consumption, it is a unique opportunity to witness first hand how the rest of the planet operates; it opens your eyes to the relative truths of the world and how easily the information can be manipulated to make people see and believe what the government and media want you to digest. It is harder to become a puppet of the 1% or the Man when you educate yourself about foreign politics and cultures. It is a lot easier to truly find out what you are made of and what you can do to help when you do not need to rely on other people to process the information for you.
I wish people collected destinations instead of cellphones and trendy fashion items. I wish they considered travel part of the stuff to covet. Maybe then more people would see creating memories as the best kind of stuff to invest on. You may not see the benefit of getting everyone packed in to the car and driving until you run out of gas and have to drive back home, but in my family, that’s how we began every adventure. Every picture and souvenir became a part of the stuff we used to decorate our home. Visitors can always appreciate the many adventures my family and I have shared, and love to hear the stories of how we had to wing it many times because we had forgotten to save enough money to finish the trip or had to eat McDonald’s just so we could stretch out the cash for the next stop of the tour bus. Our travels made us resilient, resourceful and creative; the setbacks allowed us to acquire the necessary skill sets to continue the journey without having to call it a day and head back home.
There is great benefit of exploring the world, experiencing it through our own senses, not just through books, history and photos. Go out there and touch ancient ruins, visit remote islands and castles, and read first edition books in libraries all over the continents. Take your children to meet Mickey in Paris or Tokyo, and show them how to travel by train throughout the lovely countryside. Put travel on your priority list and make it happen. Life is too short to go to work, pay bills and never leave town…I’d rather have a passport full of stamps and a house full of stuff, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. 😉
Safe and happy landings, y’all!