Perhaps you’ve just finished college and you’ve decided to take a year out. Maybe you’ve just finished University and now is your ideal opportunity to head out and see the world, before settling into a serious career. It’s time to learn something about the world, right? Well, maybe…
Whatever the reasons, swathes of people choose to travel when they are young and might never do another extended trip again in their lives. This creates a cultural bottleneck in our society. As young people head of to experience the world at 18, 19, 20 or 21, they might not be brave enough at that age to venture much further than English-speaking countries. They may only go as far as booking pre-arranged trips with guides and a filtered experience of their destination.
As so many young people have exactly the same idea – to travel at this age – they often spend time with other like-minded individuals, from similar backgrounds, doing exactly the same thing as them. I’m not sure this kind of travel experience helps people learn as much about the world as they expect it too.
Now, I’m not criticising anyone who follows this path. I understand. It is what our society expects. You get a free year or so and then you have to get your head down, work hard, get married, get promoted, have a family and so on. Your only trips abroad will be snatched breaks in the sunshine, lying on a beach because you are so tired from working your ass off, you aren’t able to do much more.
There is nothing wrong with that life. All I am saying is, that from a global point of view, is it any wonder we live on a planet where there is so much tension when there is so little opportunity for people from different regions to understand each other.
Can you make time for travel?
What would happen if you made time for travel? Imagine if you were able to take a career break for a year in your thirties or forties. Would you think about venturing further afield? Would it open your eyes to other cultures.
If there’s something I’ve learned from looking at the world through TV news or a Newspaper by comparison to in person, it is that the programme makers and editors rarely have no agenda. They thrive on global tensions, on creating enemies and asking you to choose sides.
Before I went to Colombia, I was informed by the media that it was very dangerous, intolerant place. I found a country with less financial wealth than ours but greater community spirit and for want of a better term, a happier country than my home. I learned something valuable there.
In Colombia, family means everything, they know their neighbors, they share with each other and they have a very positive outlook on life. They are less reserved and more open emotionally, which is better for mental health. So next time you are watching news stories, bear in mind that whilst Colombia has its problems like every other country, it had some very beautiful sides to it that the media may not portray.
As a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that the drug cartels of Colombia wouldn’t have been anywhere near as big, had rich USA & European citizens not had an insatiable appetite to buy those drugs. And perhaps our citizens had that insatiable appetite because they weren’t as happy in their lives as they could be, being expected to work so hard for material gain.
Most American get only two weeks of vacation time each year. Many don’t take their vacation time out of fear of losing their job. One in four takes no paid vacation time at all.
I love to travel but understand I have to balance it with all the different aspects of my life. I hope to be able to strike a balance between work, family, recreational, educational and community activities. In this day and age, it is very hard but I’m going to make time. Life is like a recipe and for it to taste best, we need to get the right ingredients and balance them nicely.