So something quite funny happened recently, when I was on a backpacking trip across the country, lodging at a hostel in Las Vegas. It was one of the best trips of my entire life because a big part of the trip played out as a road-trip down the iconic Route 66, in an RV and with some international fellow travelers on board. So the “funny” bit that happened was that there was a guy from South Africa who was part of the traveling party, whom I’d later go on to bump into at the hostel as well and he told me that on a recent trip to Thailand he’d actually met lots and lots of Americans, but all of them sang the same tune of how they don’t want to come into contact with their fellow countrymen while on that particular trip!
Reason? – They were all trying to get as far away from the “American way” of doing things, which kind of got us both thinking because as travelers we know not to put everybody into the same box. People are individuals and the fact that you’re either a Democrat or a Republican in itself speaks to the limited options we’re often presented with, under the false illusion of having complete freedom of choice.
Despite what the strategically registered address may be (for tax purposes), Google is indeed an American company, but quite ironically it appears as if we have quite a limited access to the power of the information it actually indexes. I mean try planning a trip to some faraway place, like somewhere in Southeast Asia for example – if you were to run the same searches from another country, you’d realize that over here it’s all about who manages to rank the highest, not necessarily about who actually has the best information on offer.
All of this is leading up to one thing really, which is that most experiences in life are better experienced practically instead of trying to preempt anything by first conducting research through the likes of Google. Yes, it’s okay to book accommodation online – I mean it’s much easier that way, but unless you’re lucky enough to come across something like a blog post which has that specific information, you’re not likely to learn by searching online that someone is renting out their entire home for an entire month, not asking for any money, but rather asking for a “renter” who is simply going to look after the house, feed the pets, etc.
When these types of things as aspects of travel are formalized and made available through some or other central platform, they tend to lose their authenticity as it becomes all about money.
So like my South African friend with whom I shared a room at the hostel in Las Vegas, I got to learn that at the end of the day we’re probably all looking for the same things out of life. And in the case of the traveling Americans who don’t want to come into contact with each other while abroad, perhaps meeting up in a whole different country would very well have done them a world of good.
It’s often spoken of that the majority of us don’t even have passports and yet we’re made to believe that this here country is the best place on planet earth, so I want to challenge every one of you to try and explore the world beyond our boundaries. Of course, “charity begins at home,” so perhaps if you’re limited by financial constraints then you should travel locally.
You might just be lucky like I was and meet people from other countries who have a different perspective to draw on in their discussion of our country, our culture(s) and everything that has anything to do with being American!
I can spew an endless stream of clichés about just how enriching traveling is, but the one I like the most and the one which I reckon epitomizes the essence of this post the most is that which goes “Travel far and long enough and you’ll find yourself!”
So even if it’s a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas or indeed if it’s a leisurely road-trip up Route 66, traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself!