In your travels, have you ever experienced a moment of a lifetime — an accident of sorts, one never in the plan?
Previously, we collaborated with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to explore Why The Freedom to Travel Matters. In connection with another campaign we have been invited to examine how we might redefine tourism. In doing so, we reaffirm a connection between the freedom and responsibility of the modern traveler. We follow by considering how we might re-imagine our travel decisions to better satisfy our individual needs today while sustaining the wellbeing of the communities we visit tomorrow.
“How do you like your mother-in-law?” Shanti, a Bangladeshi university student asked me while our train made its way across western Bangladesh. After eyeing me for some time, she'd finally worked up the courage to sit next to me when our train compartment emptied at the previous stop.
Odd question, I thought. But she was deliberate and determined in the way she asked. I figured there was something more meaningful behind it, something at the root that she wanted to share. I also noticed her apprehension; I would need to open up and share my story first to find out.
This is how two-way storytelling often begins.
In your year-end and new year’s travel reading, it’s likely you’ve encountered more than a few “best of” or “hot” lists enumerating countries and destinations you must visit in the next year. As tempted as I am to question the logic and criteria of the entries cataloged therein, I will instead offer my own alternative list — one to complement them all, one that focuses less on “the where” and more on “the how.”
I attempt to process what’s happening around the world by reflecting on where I am.
The morning after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I was glued to my devices, ingesting every update. At some point I needed to peel myself away from the news. So I went for a run in Tempelhof Airport Park, my usual spot in Berlin, to get some fresh air and to try and clear my head.
Offering a beginner's mindset as a life and travel strategy might sound odd. Being a beginner can be uncomfortable. The learning curve is steep, the journey can feel overwhelming. There are fears, so many of them. Some of my own early travel experiences especially bear this out.
But there are advantages. The ultimate benefit of observing the world through the eyes of a beginner is captured by a quote from Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.”
Earlier this year, we collaborated with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on a three-part series entitled Travel as a Force for Good. In connection with this campaign we have been invited to explore what “Freedom to Travel” means to us. As we did, we reaffirmed that the right to travel is not only important to us as individuals, but also to the communities we visit, and to the world and our shared humanity. Here’s why.
This is my story about recently completing a 10-day course in Vipassana meditation in Malaysia. It’s also a story about impermanence.
Last year, we were asked by BBC Travel to share the story of how we — as a married couple — quit our jobs to travel the world. The editors asked that we focus on the decisions we made together and offer some tips and advice for traveling couples and others considering making the leap. They requested also that our perspective reflect not only the highs of our journey, but also some transparency on the struggles we’ve experienced along the way.
On your next trip, don’t forget to pack your empathy.
Whether on stage or on the page, I often assert that, “travel can not only improve each of our lives, but it can also make the world a better place.” I suggest this instinctively, but then I have to step back and ask myself, “Well, how exactly does travel do that?