Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't Be This Guy Who Travels

There's this post that's going around, called "Date a Guy Who Travels." It contains some good values. Experiences are more valuable than things, but that's the rule for Millennials, not the exception. The curiosity for the world and knowledge of the poverty people have to go through all over the world are good qualities as well. Being flexible and adventurous, looking for possibilities and leaving the comfort zone are all qualities to be admired. There are some beautiful sentiments and beautiful pieces of writing in the post.

And yet it rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it because, as an ex-pat and sometime-traveler, I have known many travelers who embody many of the actions described in the post, if few of the ideals.

I have known guys who scoff at resorts when they have never been to a resort.

I have never known a guy who scoffs at vacations. Who does that?

I have known guys who dismiss travel guides because they, "probably know the guy who wrote them."

I have known guys who fail to realize that using a "travel guide" as a "reference" is redundant.

I have known many guys whose number of Facebook friends is negatively correlated with their number real friends.

I have known guys who have lived in Southeast Asia for years, but have never traveled in Malaysia. This has as much to do with the anti-drinking laws and Islamaphobia as it does with the relative expense.

I have known guys who are always announcing new things they've discovered in loud and enthusiastic tones, only to clam up if you'd already heard of them already or want specifics (in other words, have an actual conversation--which is why no one ever listens to their stories anymore).

I have known many guys who are too busy documenting an event for Facebook to actually experience it.

I have known guys who lived out of a backpack. I have known guys who claim to be backpacking when the only time they carry the backpack is to the taxi taking him away from the airport (on the way to the taxi to the airport, the hotel porter handles it).

I have known guys who pontificate about human rights and the squalor of developing countries, but are blind to the inequality and poverty on their own doorstep.

I have known ethnocentric guys who claim they're not because they've, "been to 43 countries."

I've known guys who have hiked up the tallest mountain in Taiwan, but were unaware that there are Chinese supermarkets in the U.S.

I have known guys who love being at home because their mom unpack their bags and do their laundry for them, but when they feel cramped, they leave again.

I have known many guys who marry a local girl they met on their travels, even though her English is poor and he never learns her native tongue. Conversely, I have known guys who only want to hook up with white girls when they travel.

I encountered multiple publications who know that artisanal, local handicrafts are the new status symbol. The new height of cool.

I have known guys who confuse instant-gratification with a happy life. Maybe it is, but they have never considered the meaningfulness of their lives.

I have known guys who live to build a persona for themselves through Facebook and twitter and their desktop photos

Traveling is great. Even though we live in a world where we can view satellite maps, documentaries, and other people's Facebook pictures that document life from all over the world, the world itself is still a book, and people who don't travel only read one page. It is a privilege now, as it was when St. Augustine first penned those words, but nothing replaces experiencing things first-hand. So travel, and enjoy talking and interacting with those who travel. But remember not all those who wander have lost their prejudices and pretensions.

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