Why travel makes people better people


Right now, I’m not proud to be an American citizen. There are things going on in this country that are hateful, insular and really, ignorant. But what I am proud of, is that my parents raised me to be tolerant and accepting of all people and cultures, and travel helped a lot with that.

To put it simply, travel makes you see. It makes you see new things, see new people and how they live. It makes you see outside of yourself, and even see inside of yourself.

To watch the way people eat, how they hang their laundry, to hear what they say, to uncover parts of their history, is to begin to understand them, and that’s one of the gifts travel brings.

But what’s most important about those experiences is learning that there are other ways to live than the way we do. That there are other homes to sleep in, other things to believe in.

In learning those seemingly small things, we begin to learn tolerance. To see beauty in “other,” to even revel in the world’s differences. Without that, we are only looking at ourselves and only seeing one way of living. And with that one way as the only way we know, we may start to believe it’s the best way and that others we encounter should live as we do, lest they be lesser than us.

But we travel to eliminate that ignorance. We travel to see the world and uncover the beauty in it. We travel to understand that our way isn’t “it” or the best way or the only way. And we travel to return and spread that tolerance through the stories we tell and the pictures we share. With the understanding we exhibit.

We are all immigrants, really. All of us are connected, whether knowingly or not, whether happily or not, to people of other cultures, other heritages, other religions, which means one love should be the way forward, not what we have going on now.

But enough from me, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes as a reminder:

“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Don’t let yourself become one of those people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.” —Kent Nerburn