Travel means different things to different people; from relaxing on a beach to sight-seeing, to shopping for souvenirs, but what fascinates me are questions such as:
- How much of it are we really absorbing?
- How much do we really see?
- How much do we really understand about the culture around us?
At a recent TED-x conference at UCI (University of California, Irvine,) the focus was on the “global perspective” of travel and what it truly means to travel. The audience was challenged to think about the “global perspective” of travel.
I believe there is a shift in the way we view travel today, and this shift is happening with the millennials, and spreading to the boomer generation; their parents.
The main difference with young people who travel, is that they do so
- without a plan
- travel frugally
- are entrepreneurs
- savvy with social media
- enter contests
- get media attention
Graham Michael Freeman, a 24-year-old UCI graduate student, decided to go backpacking around the world for six months. He, and a couple of friends, literally spun the globe and pointed a finger, and wherever it landed, they decided to go.
During his TED-xUCIrvine talk, Graham emphasized the importance of:
“Giving yourself the freedom to discover new things along the way. Forget all the rules. Eat with your hands. Direction over destination.”
Many young people today combine their desire for understanding the “global perspective” with the entrepreneur spirit. After traveling to countries such as Thailand, China and India, lived in a Maasai village in Kenya and swimming with great white sharks in South Africa, where Graham is originally from, they started a website Nomads In Touch, as a means to share their experiences with the world as they trekked through the world.
As with many travel bloggers today, social media is key for those who want to keep traveling and turn their passion for travel into a profession.
I think our youth have a great perspective on travel, and I believe we can learn from them. Here’s what Graham said.
“I want people to take that step back. To fully immerse yourself. Checking your expectations and comfort level at the door and putting yourself in a situation in life and experiencing it completely. Putting yourself in situations where you’re not just rushing from landmark to landmark or doing what you normally consider to be a vacation but allowing yourself to fully immersing yourself into a culture.”
Travel is no longer just about sightseeing, but about sight-thinking.
It’s easy to say, “Well Graham is young. He can take as much time off as he wants, that’s not my case with a job.” And perhaps you’re right, but as I say when I speak about “Gutsy Living,” there are always options in life, and we can always find an excuse to postpone our dreams.
So here’s what I’ve done in the last few days to satisfy my desire to learn about a new culture.
- I signed up with Vaughan Town, to volunteer for 10 days in Spain. They pay for my hotel and in exchange, I help Spanish business people practice their English and as a bonus, I learn about the Spanish culture.
- I Skyped memoir writer, Janet Givens, whom I met via Kathy Pooler’s blog interview, and asked her about her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan with her husband. She shared some helpful tips about the Peace Corps website and her two year experience. Another one of my strong “Gutsy” goals in life.
What about you? Do you have a desire to immerse yourself in other cultures for a while, or does travel mean something else to you? Please comment below.
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of Anthology #2
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My husband and I switched over to this way of thinking a few years ago when we retired and had more time to travel. Prior to that, we picked a destination, hit the highlights and came home – usually exhausted from our vacation.
Now, we are more into ‘learning’, whether it is about history, art, culture, food, or something as simple as how to brew beer or make wine. We always come home with a new perspective that enriches our lives when we are not traveling.
We try to travel as economically as possible and appreciate any tidbits you can pass our way. Looking forward to your posts regarding your time in Spain and will check out Vaughan Town.
Penelope J says
I think I immersed myself in enough other cultures earlier in my life. These days what I’d like to do – when and if I have the time – is to really immerse myself more in the three countries/cultures that I belong to and where I’ve lived: UK, Mexico, and United States. I’ve had the most diverse experience in the US since I’ve lived in the East – New York, in the Midwest – Milwaukee, in the Southwest – Santa Fe, and in the West – San Diego. I also spent several months in both Maine and Oklahoma City, but there’s still a large part of this country that I don’t know. The same goes for Mexico where I lived 38 years and for England where you can never get your fill.
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Lady Fi says
I don’t think this kind of thinking is new – it has to do with youth. What might be new is that older people are now retaining that spirit. My friends and I had the same mindset when we travelled as young people. In my case, I threw a dart at a map to decide where to live for a year in Spain.
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Lady Fi says
Oh, and congratulations on going to Spain as a volunteer! How wonderful.
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Koh Samui Thailand says
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Sofía de Romano says
Hi! I´m writing from Spain, a place where we have to learn English if we want to experience adventures of that kind. Spanish is a great language but like it or not, we do need to know English to enjoy and meet other people with whom we would like to exchange different kind of information. In this sense let me leave you to resources for all Spanish speakers and Spanish teachers of English that might need/want to improve their English learning:
We all need this language to travel around!