Humans have an irrepressible need to move and to discover. We are infinitely curious. We have an irresistible desire for anything new. We find ourselves in the mercy of our insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Our early ancestors left the forest canopies to fearlessly delve into the jungle floor. Great human migration led to the formation of settlements all across the globe. Trade and innovation became an inevitable byproduct of thriving civilisations. And so is travel.
Early travellers (literally and figuratively) endured discomfort, weathered storms, and battled adversary all for the sake of uncovering what is not yet known. Travel gave our ancestors the means to satisfy this innate human yearning for exploration and discovery. It provided concrete answers to our practical and existential inquiries.
Concepts and ideas are redefined over time and travel is no exception to that. The success of the age of exploration and the romantic accounts of early explorers drew the attention of rich patrons. Then came the dawn of traveling for leisure and pleasure. Travel started to become a luxury only the wealthy and privileged could afford. It became an emblem of affluence and enlightenment.
Today’s modern and globalised world have mainstreamed travel. With enough resources, we can be halfway across the globe in less than 24 hours in the most luxurious and comfortable way possible. Gone were the days of pest and disease-ridden, year-long global traverse.
The advent of cheap airfare and tourism made long distance excursions more accessible to the layman. We are attracted to places that have been beautifully photographed or filmed. We choose the commonly traveled “safe” routes. We check out available lists of where to go and what to bring. We tend to plan our itineraries based off of what has been said and done by other people. The amount of streamlined information online makes travel as easy as it is now.
Social media have made it easy for people to exchange opinions and observations about a certain destination. We are able to predict our spending based off of the information we find online. We are now able to gauge the amount of safety and security we have upon travelling to one place. There are forums and blogs that give us an idea of what sociocultural norms should be observed. We do our research so we can figure out which type of clothing and gadgets are allowed in each country. Different platforms online even provide us with lists of where and what to eat. Smart phones have made everything from language barriers to navigation seemingly trouble-free. We are never not prepared when we embark on a journey towards unfamiliar territory.
There is nothing wrong with gaining courage and inspiration from others. But in this day and age, don’t you think we tend to model our experiences off of others’ personal accounts?
We post in accordance to other people’s expectations. As much as we all hate to admit this, we share whatever we think will get the most likes. Once we get to our destination, we go to places and we want to have our picture taken at a spot that would be considered worthy of likes. We tag our locations for us to boast that we have been there and have done that. We share information that we think will attract people. We’re inclined to censor ourselves when it comes to real and less pleasing observations. We curate our experiences online. And doesn’t that reduces the credibility of the information sharing we all depend on?
We react and respond differently to information. Some people enhance its potential and some people take it for granted. Information sharing is valuable. Discourse is great. Sharing experiences on social media is an important part of interconnectivity. There is nothing wrong with wanting safety and security. Some people travel for rest and relaxation. Some travel to be challenged. You define how you want to travel. To each his own.
But what do our technologically dependent lives say about our inherent craving for growth, wisdom, and discovery?
Despite the convenience and the grandeur associated with it, modern technology have made us all vulnerable to the negatives of being technology and information dependent. We end up questioning and second guessing our own experiences. It’s tempting to be glued to our smartphones to be aware without making the effort to observe. But what about asking questions and having social interactions with the locals? What about allowing yourself to get lost and then spontaneously stumbling upon something unique and unforgettable?
Let’s not forget, there really is something about traversing the less travelled path. Yeah, there’s the safety issue. But it should not outweigh our desire to learn. Instinct and common sense are still valuable travel companions. With everything readily available at the tip of our fingers, we have become lazy to uncover things by ourselves. If you travel to illuminate yourself about different perspectives and norms then don’t expect traveling to be all grand and easy. There are valuable lessons to be gained from the less than perfect experience. Learning something new provides you with the notion that there is more to learn about this world. And that exact mindset is what prompted our ancestors to learn more and to explore more.
Traveling provided a platform for our quest for knowledge. Technology enhanced our ability to properly utilize information and not exploit the worst of it. Traveling in this technologically advanced age is an enlightening experience. This combination elevated our experiences in every aspect of human life. It expanded our awareness and broadened our perspectives.
I hope you ask yourself why you travel. I hope you think twice as long and twice as hard what you do with this privilege. I hope we don’t lose the real essence of travel. I hope we don’t trivialize courage and curiosity and patronize frivolous thought. We now have a chance to inspire and ignite something in our peers. We have a chance to do good. We have a chance to raise awareness about things that matter the most to us. We have a chance to have our voices heard.
With all this in mind, why don’t we start traveling with our eyes, ears, and palettes wide open again for learning?