Can Travel Change The World?

So many of the world’s problems are caused by ignorance, a lack of understanding, and a pre-conception of ideas filtered through the media. It would be hard for news channels, newspapers, and tabloids to scare monger people away from an area, culture, or people, (as they so often do) if those watching had experienced that place first hand, and knew that their need to find a story often quashed the honesty behind a report. Most people in the modern world know or are aware that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, see, or hear in the news, but yet so many of us base our entire opinions of a country, culture, or city on just that. It disappoints me greatly that so many people choose not to travel, or avoid an area entirely based purely on what they read in the media, as more often than not these preconceptions are wrong. Quite simply, my belief is that if more people were to travel, the world would be a better place. It would be hard to judge a culture, race, or country knowing just how diverse its people are. The only way to know is to experience, and experience of other cultures provides us with a more tolerant, and understanding state of mind. Can travel change the world? I think it can.

There is a degree of irony to my perception of the media on travel, as I myself am a travel writer (albeit an independent one). You could argue that I have over dramatised issues in the past to make a piece more eye-catching or interesting, and to a degree you would be right. Even the heading of this very article could be seen as over dramatic to appeal to wandering internet viewers. There is, I believe, a difference however, and that is I will never tell someone to see or avoid an area purely based on my own opinion, or any other factor for that matter. Sure, I’ll give you my advice based on my own experiences, but if in doubt I always tell people to go and judge it for themselves. I don’t write because I want you to buy my paper, or watch my news channel, and travel blogging is not lucrative enough for me to be doing this for the money! My motivation is purely to get more people interested in seeing the world more, and discovering how great that can be just like I did. That and I like the sound of my own voice sometimes! 🙂

When I think back over the last so many years, almost every ignorant or racist person I have ever come across in my life has been someone who has barely left their home town. They all lack an experience of diversity, and have come to form so many of their opinions based on the small amount of people they have ever come across. I’m not saying there are not people who are also this way and have travelled, but it makes me wonder that if they had experienced other cultures early on in life, would they be this way? After all, I can say with complete certainty that all of their views have not been accurate, but fabricated out of fear or assumptions of something they quite clearly don’t understand.

Even with those of us who are very open and tolerant people, travel can change us for the better. When I first started travelling I was incredibly shy. I had no real direction in life, and I was completely incompetent when it came to organizing my finances. Any budget backpacker will tell you though, there is no place for shyness when you are travelling, and especially not when you are doing it solo! Also, the need to extend my travels further pushed me to question when and what I was spending my money on, and ultimately made me into a budget savvy round the world traveller. There are so many skills though to be learnt on the road that travel can change all of us into something new and improved.

My question in the title was can travel change the world? Personally, I think it can. It can open our eyes to another culture, or make us more open minded, even when we were quite open to begin with. Travel makes us more aware, more compassionate, and more tolerant of those around us. As humans we have so many parallels with one another, and the more you see of the world, the more you realise that when it comes down to it, we are very much the same.

One Response to “Can Travel Change The World?”

  1. Elena says:

    Great question, and yes, I do think that travel can change the world, but…I’ve met people who travel all the time (rather, take regular annual vacations to a number of different places) which travel has not touched at all – they come back complaining about the food, the dirty streets, the overpriced this or that.. I think travel does change you profoundly but only if you allow yourself to be changed and if your motive for traveling is not just to cross off another location on your traveling map. I think the human and cultural aspect of meeting locals is what’s still missing from a lot of travel experiences. I know people who’ve never met locals in any location they’ve traveled to and never learned the story behind the food they hated so much, for example…

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