Travel and Perspective

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Though the number of Americans holding passports has increased, we still don’t travel in the numbers that people from other wealthy nations do. There are a variety of reasons for this and we have heard most of them. Americans have precious little vacation time. We live a good distance from most other countries, save Mexico and Canada, which are by far the most visited countries by Americans, followed by Great Britain. According to a January article in the New York Times: “Americans today are taking less vacation time than at any point in nearly 40 years, according to an October report for the U.S. Travel Association by Oxford Economics.”

When I ask people about why they don’t travel abroad, some will ask me why they should- they have everything they need in the United States. This is an extraordinarily ethnocentric and myopic view of the world. Here is how it was mapped in Buzzfeed:

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My fellow Americans! Please! Go travel. See poverty. See the grace with which people deal with tragedy and want. Witness how medical care works in countries where it works! Be humbled. Most importantly, dispel your myths about others by learning about our common humanity.

Anyway, that is what I would love to scream in the proverbial town square. For the last two years I have worked with students from all over Asia, brought together in one school in one dormitory in Bangladesh. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists, over a dozen different cultures and languages. These young women, with grace and some discomfort, formed a student body. This is what travel can do for people.

Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but it is nice to believe that American can become more modest if they travel.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseamarshall/what-americans-really-think-about-the-rest-of-the-world#.oad43VLyA

5 thoughts on “Travel and Perspective

  1. I loved. LOVED your post. I’ve had many, many, many conversations with friends and even family about travel. And vacation. I think one of the main issues is simply that Americans just do not KNOW how to travel. Americans are not taught to respect other cultures of the world. They are not taught how to behave. Americans have a very stereotypical view of any place that is not within the confines of our borders. Also–Americans don’t SAVE for that vacation. Although my situation may be different, and I’m incredibly fortunate to travel to France on an annual and sometimes semi-annual basis, I do save up during the year because I like to shop. But–we don’t eat out during the week. I cook at home and we go out to dinner for special occasions. When I worked, I took a week off without pay to spend three weeks abroad. There are ways….Americans do NOT like to take all their vacation time at once. They really need to learn vacationtime management. I’m sorry to ramble, but this is a very heated subject for me. Thanks for the fantastic post. Oh..and I love the quote!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. I don’t know how we have become so arrogant as to think the rest of the world doesn’t matter somehow. It does see to be a regrettably American condition. Australians are equally or more isolated, geographically, but they travel a lot. Thanks for the super-kind feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Australians are great! The trip to Oz from the East Coast took 21 hours and was worth the time in the planes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You make an interesting point. I enjoy visiting America and think it’s a lovely country. I know people take fewer holidays and so have less chance to travel, but I wish Americans visiting the UK would aim to cover less ground and savour more. It’s easy to say you’ve been to a country but, as you’ve found out, it’s spending time living in a place that really gives you the understanding of what a different way of life is like.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is true. A lot of people from the US get into the 10 countries in 10 days mindset because they get so little time off. A proper visit to the US could take the better part of a year! I wish Americans got more time off for a lot of reasons besides travel – there is just too much pressure.

      Liked by 1 person

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