Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Travel Tuesdays: Travel Broadens Perspectives

"Ideally, travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. Suddenly the palate with which we paint our lives has more colors. We realize there are exciting alternatives to the social and community norms that our less traveled neighbors may never consider…but you can only reap these rewards if you’re open to them….Make a decision that on any trip you take, you’ll make a point to be open to new experiences, seek options that get you out of your comfort zone, and be a cultural chameleon-- trying on new ways of looking at things and striving to become a 'temporary local.'”(emphasis mine)
                                               ~ Rick Steeves, Travel as a Political Act, p. 4

I love this quotation. 

I confess, Rick Steeves' guidebooks aren't usually my guidebooks of choice. When traveling I tend to favor Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. (This probably has much to do with the fact that most of our travel has been in developing countries while most of Steeves' travel has been in Europe). 

But this book beckoned to me from its "faced out" perch in our library. With a title like that, I had to check it out. What did I learn? Despite our very different travel preferences, Rick Steeves and I have come away with similar beliefs.

Here's another quotation from page 161:
"I’m convinced that people-to-people travel experiences can be a powerful force for peace."

Indeed. Once I have a personal connection to a place, I care more deeply about its citizens. And that care extends to people who know me and know of my travels. Many of my students would come to me after seeing news of a capsized ferry in the Philippines or a change in the President of Peru. Once they heard of my travels there, they consumed the news differently. They cared about people they never even met. But they knew me and I knew people there.

And this quotation from page 5:
"Travel challenges truths we were raised thinking were self-evident and God-given. Leaving home, we learn other people find different truths to be self-evident. We realize that it just makes sense to give everyone a little wiggle room."

This, I find, can be one of the hardest points to make understood to non-travelers. We don't have a monopoly on what's right or just or good. We have our way. Other cultures have their own ways. A little respect for those differences goes a long way.

Do these quotations ring true you? Do you have a favorite travel quotation?


  1. I like these - especially the one about wiggle room. I'm thinking also about the quality of light, how it's different in different places in the world. Paris is illuminated so differently than Mexico, and color speaks differently in Israel than in Vancouver. Thanks for sharing, and thanks as well for being part of the 2012 Comment Challenge!
    Keep on commenting,

  2. Michelle, I keep seeing your photo because we share some friends. So, I decided to stop by and check out your blog. Also am part of the campaign. I love your travel quotes, and they are so right on. I never thought about travel quotes before, although I love to travel as a traveler and not as a tourist. And, I'm intrigued wth your interest in nature and working with kids. Nice to finally meet you.

    See you've read Wonderstruck -- must get that.

  3. Lee,
    I've been contemplating your comment regarding light since I read it quickly last night. I've been picturing the light in places I've been and considering how it's different. It's so true. In the rain forest it was deep and dappled. In Niger, bright and blinding. In the mountains of Peru, at 14,000 feet, it was sharp and white.

    Patricia, Hello! Thanks for stopping by. It's nice to "meet" you here. Yes, I too identify as a traveler, not a tourist. To me, those are two very different things.

    Oh, yes, and do read Wonderstruck.