How Travelling has Shaped my Perspective on Life
It's funny, you hear the above statement so many times while you're backpacking, but have you ever really stopped to think about the true meaning of it? I thought I did....until now. Like most backpacker's I've met, I myself subscribe to this perspective on travelling with vigor and a colossal sense of pride. Like many of you reading this blog, I've witnessed first-hand the ravenous chaos that ensues when a particular destination on this planet finds it's way into the mainstream. The consequences are all too familiar: battered beaches, uncontrollable inflation, packages tours, and worst of all, the corruption of the local culture.
Now that I've arrived back to reality after a 2 year hiatus trotting the globe, this statement resonates so much more than it ever did. I understand people's desire to travel in luxury; I can empathize with the package tourists; I can even slightly fathom why they stay at big, Western hotels where they never have to leave the poolside. I'll admit, I'm a guilty contributor of these activities in the past and, probably, in the future. But like the old adage goes, "you live and you learn." And as travellers, it's our duty to give back to this community and enable more individuals to experience the world from the perspective of a "backpacker."
It's ok to stay at the Westin every now and again. McDonald's can sometimes be your saviour after living off gado-gado and spicy thai curry for 8 months. Air conditioning and Western toilets are amazing! But to experience life outside of our reality, is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and do your best to adapt. Acceptance of the bizarre, tolerance of the different, and passion for the unique - this is what traveling is all about. Anything else is just tourism.
I currently reside in Calgary, Canada. I'm finding life to be a completely different beast since arriving back from a two year absence from North America. This has helped me realize that I can never go back- I'll always be a traveller. That bug, like they say, never goes away. So I look forward, at all the opportunities and new challenges that await me in this life. I suppose that's what travelling is all about.