The New York Times recently published a GREAT article on international travel titled Reclaiming Travel. In it, the authors muse over the state of travel which has evolved from epic journeys as told in The Odyssey, Gilgamesh, and even the Bible into sedated, overly populated tourist activities that help people escape the ordinary, but do nothing to provide meaning.
“We have made it [travel] a business: the business of being on the move… tourism is safe, controlled and predetermined. We take a vacation, not so much to discover a new landscape, but to find respite from our current one, an antidote to routine.“
So how do we get back to the good old days of travel that enriches the soul, instills meaning, and creates epic experiences? Here are 6 steps inspired by the article that we can all take – and must take – to help make travel, travel:
1. Get Lost
“Getting lost isn’t a curse. Not knowing where we are, what to eat, how to speak the language can certainly make us anxious and uneasy. But anxiety is part of any person’s quest to find the parameters of life’s possibilities.”
2. Trust the Process:
“The returns can be only as good as what we offer of ourselves in the process.” Not knowing where you will be tomorrow is not only OK, it is a key component of any good story – including yours.
3. Don’t be Boring
“Tourists may enjoy the visit only because it is short. The memory of it, the retelling, will always be better”, but only if there is something worth retelling. Real travel “is about the unexpected, about giving oneself over to disorientation”.
4. Learn About Others Before Learning About Self
“The world has become a frighteningly small place. The planet’s size hasn’t changed, of course, but our outsize egos have shrunk it dramatically. We might feel we know our own neighborhood, our own city, our own country, yet we still know so little about other individuals, what distinguishes them from us, how they make their habitat into home. This lack of awareness is even more pronounced when it comes to different cultures“.
5. Be Humble: Give More Than You Take:
“Travel is a search for meaning, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. The humility required for genuine travel is exactly what is missing from its opposite extreme, tourism”.
6. Search for More
“Our wandering is meant to lead back toward ourselves. This is the paradox: we set out on adventures to gain deeper access to ourselves; we travel to transcend our own limitations. Travel should be an art through which our restlessness finds expression”.
“The kind of travel to which we aspire should tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. It isn’t about pain or excessive strain — travel doesn’t need to be an extreme sport — but we need to permit ourselves to be clumsy, inexpert and even a bit lonely. We might never understand travel as our ancestors did: our world is too open, relativistic, secular, demystified. But we will need to reclaim some notion of the heroic: a quest for communion and, ultimately, self-knowledge.“