Those who follow Humanitou on Instagram and/or Facebook know I was in Vietnam recently. It was the first international vacation my wife, Becca, and I have taken, and without our kids, in 10 years. Things have changed for us about the experience of travel but not the reasons for it.
We no longer are 20-something backpackers living on the margins of hygiene and scraping through with the cheapest of necessities: food out of cans and bunks in hostels. We are 40-somethings now, and with the resources to drop on privacy and full bellies, unplanned opportunities and gifts for the fam back home.
And we rolled with a suitcase this time, because it made some sense not to bag ourselves in. Big backpacks all too often make it necessary to pull out 90 percent of what we’re carrying to find that pair of underwear we’re craving, the pair that’s clean.
So, yes, we have changed but the reasons for travel remain: curiosity, connection, learning, sharing, seeing … big picture. To travel is to move outside ourselves, to recognize there are others yet we need not treat them as “other.” I also don’t mind showing those others that Americans are more decent than they might be thinking these days.
To travel is to walk into the bigger world with humility and openness to what’s different — and beyond the faces, clothes, foods. To question our beliefs, if need be, by recognizing others’. It’s feeling art in all life. It’s humanness.
Common Spirit of Humanitou
Given the threads of humanness and creativity, passion and love that run through those conversations and this site, I don’t believe it’s coincidence that those Humanitou features have compassionate and open-hearted views of our world.
Travel for the sake of curious travel enlightens. It breaks down walls. It connects humans. Or at least has great potential to do those things. That no doubt depends on the person and her/his mindset and intentions.
With the current climate of exceptional fear and division in our world, driven by those who have ended up in positions intended for leaders, we collectively could use more reaching across, more wonder, more humility. Honest experience can’t help but lighten presumptions and mistrust, ignorance and ego.
A World of Connection
After having kids and careers, stowing our backpacks and letting our passports expire, I had wondered if those days were forever behind us.
Our recent plunge back into Asia, where I have spent around 15 months of my life, has revived my energy for what’s out there. It also has stoked new flow for expressing myself creatively through photography and writing.
We might be different travelers than the grimy vagabonds we were those years ago. But our passports are revived along with some steadiness in our belief in humanity.
One, of course, does not need to spend days on planes and in airports to get to and from foreign hemispheres to be a traveler. Exchange is more readily accessible than ever, be it domestic or international, face-to-face or online. There’s a world out there that believes in connection.
Sometimes we need to let go and step beyond our personal borders — emotional, physical and geographical — to remember there’s more to us than … us.
Your Turn | What Is Travel to You?
Why do you travel (or not)? What have you gained from it? Or what, simply, is a great story you hold onto? Share it in the comments below or post on social media with photos, and tag Humanitou. We’re about sharing here, community and connection.