Friday, March 30, 2012

Travel Blasphemy #3: It's OK Not to Travel

It's OK not to travel.  

What is travel, really?

Is there a minimum physical distance one must transfer one's body from Point A to Point B before it counts as travel?

To qualify as travel, must there be a minimum number of variables that differ between Point B and Point A, such as scenery, climate, language, cuisine, culture, or customs? Do some variables carry more weight than others?

Is unfamiliarity the key criterion for an activity to qualify as travel?

Is international travel "better" than domestic travel? Or the reverse?

Then there's the un-killable "tourist" v. "traveler" debate.

Some argue that one should travel in order to:
  • Broaden one's horizons;
  • Become more tolerant;
  • Learn what really matters; and
  • Learn how we're all the same.

 ... and that people who don't travel are:
  • Xenophobes
  • Close-minded
  • Scaredy-cats
  • Boring, couch-potato slugs
  • Unable to understand why they should travel
  • Unwilling to cast off the bourgeois shackles imprisoning them in a soul-less cubical life

But, really, it's OK not to travel if we don't want to. And if we don't want to travel, no excuses and no embarrassment are necessary. We just don't care to.

We can live a big, rich life without ever leaving our home town.

I'm not talking about just reading books, watching TV, or surfing the web, either, though all of those activities can bring the world to us.

I'm talking about people who travel their home environs via keen observation and study skills. Or who have avocations that teach them about the multiple natural and human universes within a small radius of their home base. Mushroom-hunting, for example. Working with refugees. Writing poetry. Micro-travelers, if you will.

And even if we were to drop all reference to travel, there are legions of well-rounded, non-judgmental, complete people who derive joy in "just" raising a family, walking in the woods, tending a garden, participating in local theater, chopping wood, or whatever it is that gives them pleasure. They simply don't care to travel; they prefer other enriching activities.

Me, I love to visit places that pique my curiosity, whether domestic or international. I'm not a better person for it, and to claim I have some higher calling to explain my travel would be bullshit. I just like it.

While on the topic of bullshit and travel, the truism about travel making people more open-minded, tolerant, etc. is bullshit. My experience is that the ratio of traveling assholes : pleasant travelers is about the same as non-traveling assholes : pleasant non-travelers. Furthermore, said asshole-ness is an equal opportunity state of being regardless of where s/he is on the tourist food chain.

I am among a tiny fraction of the planet's occupants who have the wherewithal to travel more than 100 miles from their residence.

I am supremely grateful that I can afford the luxury of travel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some people travel merely to be able to tell you over and over about their trip. If you are truly happy 'where you are' then perhaps you don't need to travel. To each his own. There is no place like home! :)