I do not know what my life would be without travel. For me, each new adventure teaches me something about myself and about others that I didn’t know. Travel takes me beyond the realm of possibility and makes me realize what is really important in life. It’s not money. It’s not fame. It’s not homes and other material things. It is: love, laughter, people, and life itself. It is about not wasting any opportunity to make yourself a better person and to help your fellow human being. It is about learning the truth about other lands and cultures for yourself, not based on what is displayed on a television or placed online. This is why I encourage EVERYONE to travel at least once because when you start, you can’t stop).
So, just the other day I was showing someone the pictures of my trip to Belize. This individual said, “oh, it looks nice. I want to go, but it’s just too dangerous!” My initial statement was, “yes, there are some areas which have a few problems with crime; however, it’s not the entire country.” After our conversation, I thought to myself, “So, she lives near a major metropolitan area where there is a lot of crime, but is afraid to go to another area because of crime. Pot meet kettle.” That kinda stirred my memory about the other “reasons” people have given for not traveling. I respect everyone’s wishes and desire to live their life in the manner in which they choose; however, I think that people should not pass judgment on an area or stereotype a whole group of people, without at least having first hand experience.
Other than the “danger” factor, what are the reasons people have given for not wanting to travel beyond their comfort zone? I will just provide a few below. How many of these have you heard (or possibly even used) before?
- “It’s too expensive”. This is subjective as everyone does not come from the same social economic status. However, I ball on a budget, so even the most pricey destinations fit into my budget.
- “Those people are…” Just fill in the blank. First of all, I hate the term “those people”. Additionally, painting everyone with the same brush is just stupid.
- “They all have AIDS”. Is that so? So, without even visiting the area, you know the medical history of every person in a particular country? Okay.
- “Zika!” The latest buzz word. Yes, Zika is the current day reality, but there are preventative measures that one can implement to mitigate exposure and protect oneself.
- “I don’t believe what they believe.” Well, I am not muslim and do not necessarily have the same beliefs as a muslim person, but I do respect them. Unless someone’s beliefs (or the social practices of a country) truly run counter to my moral compass, I will still travel to the destination.
- “It’s too poor.” This is one of the beliefs that gave rise to the “ugly american” moniker. Money can by a lot of things, but it can’t by class and common sense. What one lacks in money and material wealth, they have an over abundance of in good health, happiness and love.
- “I don’t speak their language.” Although this may be a legitimate concern for some people, there are ways to break through the language barrier. You can take a guided tour with local who well-versed in your native tongue. You can use technology to help you communicate with others and translate any printed materials. Or, you can simply try to learn basic phrases to get by and enjoy the experience of figuring the rest out as you go.
- “I don’t wan to change money when I visit…” Currency exchange does occur in many countries; however, that shouldn’t be a show stopper. Although I don’t normally recommend using the currency exchanges in airports, you can always utilize that service. Or, if you reside in the states, major banking institutions have currency exchange services that do not have the surcharges and fees that you will find at the airport exchange kiosk. If you have a credit card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee, you can use that during your trip.
- “They hate women.” Now, I will agree that there are some places where it isn’t necessary a good thing for women to journey alone for safety reasons. However, some geographic regions have programs and tours that will safely help women and solo travelers navigate through certain areas. As a security practitioner I believe in safety first, so this is one legitimate reason where I will never give someone the side-eye.
- “They hate westerners.” As with the aforementioned reason, this is a very legitimate reason for not wanting to journey abroad. You can always review various travel alerts or research information in reliable travel publications. Some of the resentment again westerners is based on ideology, some just based on the way that “some” westerners have behaved when they visited a certain region. Again, this is a legitimate reason that will not cause me to give someone the side-eye.
Whatever the reason you have in your head for not visiting a location outside of your current dwelling, please make sure it is based on sound reasoning and good information. The world is a big exciting place and I would hate for someone not experience all its splendor based on what they have been told or led to believe.