iFeature | The purpose of travel: unlearn, relearn, untravel

This post was originally penned for The Alternative and was hosted here

On a recent tweet-chat about travel, tweeple were invited to share opinions about: “If more people travelled it would make for a better world -- Yes or No.” To which some one replied that may be there needs to be a distinction between travellers and tourists before answering that question.

The traveller or tourist conundrum has been around and on for a while now. As someone who solo travels through the country once every few months I can attest to it being an oft asked question. To what end, I am still discerning.

So does frequency of travel alone help decide who’s a traveller and who’s a tourist?
Traveller or Tourist - which one are you
How exotic is your destination
What if I am the kind of person – traveller or tourist you decide – who steps into new places be it cities, towns, villages or even homes with no intention of experiencing it through all my senses, almost blinkered?
Think of a sudden recollection for a long forgotten diet regime evoking the urge to dab ‘extra ghee’ off from parathas/theplas with a tissue paper!
Think instances of shoving camera lenses (with flash) into faces, homes and lives of people met because Facebook and Instagram need to know!

What if I am the kind of person who twitches her face at almost everything during the journey and is visibly uncomfortable owing to unmet demands, being discourteous?
Think of the authoritarian tenor and tone used when speaking with locals!
Think of the loud complains and never a word of gratitude!

Are you being blinkered?
Litter free places are a reality
So clearly then frequency of jettisoning off to exotic (and not always so exotic) locales isn’t a pointer of anything. And if a traveller is supposed to be – mindful, respectful, responsible and sensitive amongst other mentionable virtues, it is only natural to then expect a certain degree of ‘worldly-wiseness’ from them.
However, the more one travels the more one finds oneself in the company of a certain few who love boasting about the number of places they’ve been to. And seldom about the number and kind of experiences travel has moulded them through.
Going back to the question from the tweet-chat travel can change you only if you want it to.

But what if the perspective was flipped around a little bit?
What if regardless of where we’ve all been or how often we’ve moved we acknowledge that coming from the outside we are all tourists – foreign to the places, culture and people we interact with during that short stint of time?

So a traveller then is someone who is not only able to enjoy their own experience while on the road but is also equally attuned to the road they are on.

Did you seek their permission before going clickety click?
In the spirit of making the world a little better through travel here are a few things to remember:
- Know a little bit more about the place before getting there. A leave out a little so you can be               surprised.
- People everywhere are just like you – locals can be as cautious or friendly as you are.
- It isn’t rude to request for certain comforts when on the road. It’s certainly rude demanding it as         a birth right.
- There is never a good excuse to litter. The sea isn’t going to swallow your trash nor are the                  glaciers.
- Some places are built for noise, some for silence. Be judicious.
- Traveller or tourist – travel teaches you to unlearn, relearn and untravel.

What kind of footprint are you leaving behind 
Confluence of Zanskar and Indus in Leh -- Keep them rivers clean
Bonfires lend themselves to a somewhat higher decibels

Labels: , ,