I have visited 14 different countries out of the 30 or so developed countries in the world. From my superficial touristic view, I have noted that in all these countries, people earn money at day jobs, spend it on stuff, and generally lead predictable lives. The difference between countries is so much smaller than the difference between individuals. From this I have concluded that travel is not worth it, at least when it comes to going to other developed countries.
I have lived in three different countries, all some of the richest countries in the world. This has allowed me to gain a certain outside perspective on specific cultures, at least the wealthy ones, and traditions that can not be gained from tourism. Cultures ARE slightly different. Some are reserved. Some are civilized. Some are moral. Some are friendly. Some are lazy. Some are hamfisted. Some are hardworking. Just like people.
However, on the whole, national cultures are far more similar than people. If you are a carpenter, you will find you have more in common with other carpenters regardless of their nationality than you do with their neighbor. There, I just saved you a lot of travel time — however, perhaps this has to be experienced to be fully realized. I still run into people who should be smart enough to realize that their nation is not the best because its people are somehow chosen.
If you want to learn something about people, I suggest you talk to your neighbor rather than someone from another country.
Perhaps my perspective is clouded by being concentrated in developed countries. However, this is where most tourism go anywhere, so why are people going?
I know people that buy the tour guides and plan out which landmarks to see. I note that most locals never go to those landmarks. This suggests to me that the landmarks are irrelevant to the culture despite being promoted as being the essential part of the culture. Why do people go to see the views if they don’t care about the views where they live?
Sometimes it’s about the shopping, but seriously. Global trade means that you can now buy the same limited number of goods all over the world. Why go to Paris, when you can buy the same things down at the corner store. Similarly, sometimes, it’s about the food. But really, I don’t need to go to Greece to eat at a Greek restaurant. Yes, maybe it’s not the same, but it’s pretty damn close.
Sometimes people travel to get away from it all? My question then is, what are you running away from? And why are you running? I have never felt a need to get away from my normal life that could be cured by a one week getaway.
It used to be that travel meant something. Like an expedition you would work to go somewhere. Nowadays, you just hop into an airplane and 12 hours you are in another country on the other side of the world that is almost identical to your own. I suspect this is just “consumption of places” similar to consuming food or things. Is modern tourism just yet another consumer experience?
Have you ever considered traveling slowly? Moving from city to city until you get to the destination? I think sailing is an interesting way to travel slowly. I submit that you do not really know a place unless you have worked a job there, opened a bank account, and lived as a native rather than just briefly passed through while taking pictures. Living abroad makes for more personal growth than flying around in a tincan as a tourist. If you have some useful skills, you can even travel for free and get paid for it. (Until I quit my career, I have never paid for a plane ticket with my own money.)
That’s how I see it; I realize that I might be missing a few genes, so please enlighten me why travel is so popular?
Originally posted 2009-07-03 04:26:31.