How and Why Do You See the World?

There are so many ways to see the world. You can take a tour. You can go it alone. You can stay in hotels, hostels, camp, or heck — just sleep in the car.

You can climb mountains and jump into waterfalls. You can see every museum on the block. You can visit the markets, study suburbia, take cooking courses, or do a home-stay to learn a new language. Or, you could just sit on a beach with a pina colada in one hand and a mai tai in the other.

Here are a few general ways people like to see the world:

Nature

Visiting natural wonders (large and small, well known and reclusive) are a bona fide way to see the world. You will see the most spectacular landscapes, ocean views, desert dunes, and natural anomalies.

Traveler in Desert
Walking Maranjab Desert, Iran © Hamed Saber

In speaking with a fellow traveler in Hawaii recently, I asked when she went around the island if she visited a certain market (reputed to be the best on the island). She scoffed at me and said “A market is a market. I wanted to see what nature has to offer.”

Fair enough.

Another well-traveled friend replied with “Meh. You can only take pictures of so many beautiful sunsets before you realize there’s more to the world.”

Also fair enough.

Markets

Visiting markets will clue you in to a whole way of life. Markets around the world give you an indication of the economy, culture, diet, and resources of your destination. Every market is different around the world, from the products and produce offered, to the way of bargaining for and purchasing the goods. Although you can find markets that are riddled with tourists, more often than not they are there for the locals. If you want to see what the locals see and do as they do, visiting markets around the world is a great way to do so.

Language

Language immersion trips are increasingly common. They often involve staying in the home of a local family, in addition to taking lessons for a few hours each day. In so doing, you can learn a whole lot about how the locals live, taking a step away from the norm, and diving right into a place and learning to “swim” (or rather, speak) with the locals.

Voluntourism

Sad to say that this has become an actual word (albeit not yet recognized by my spellchecker), but it is. The concept is of course to spend the length of your trip volunteering for a worthy cause. There are many organizations out there now who will suit you up with the whole deal: accommodations, volunteer activities, excursions, and often language lessons too.

Caravan in New Zealand
WWOOFing, New Zealand © fishermansdaughter

For the altruistic, it is a great way to see the world and make a positive difference in the meantime. Just a word of caution to do your research on the organization; not all volunteer tourism trips are created equal or truly for the benefit of the people (and not the organization’s pocketbook). It’s also worth noting that despite hours of blood, sweat and tears being poured into your vacation, don’t expect to save any money. In fact sometimes a volunteer vacation will be more expensive than sitting on a beach and having drinks served to you at will.

Museums

My father travels to see museums and art galleries. He purchases admissions in advance, plans his itinerary around the operating hours, and even ensures his accommodation will be within the perfect distance from all the museums in a city. For him, culture is in a location’s history. Naturally, Europe is one of his favorite destinations for all the wonderful history is boasts.

Child on Beach in Maldives
Young Photographer, Maldives © muha…

Beaches

Although I don’t know anybody who claims to seek culture and economic perspective by scouring and comparing the world’s beaches, there is something to be said for beach vacations too. The oceanic climate and animal activity changes from locale to locale, as does the color of the water and sand, current patterns, and swimsuit protocol. You’ll get a taste of culture by virtue of the beach vendors who cross your path, the drinks you imbibe, and music that wafts over to you.

But mostly you’ll get a great tan.

To Tour or Not

I would wager that many of our readers choose to march to the beat of their own drum and stay away from organized tours. In so doing, you are likely to get a slightly more authentic perspective on culture and activities, but sometimes it’s just not possible or preferable.

I have a friend who travels the world by climbing mountains. Because flying around the world with extensive and specialized gear is prohibitive and route-finding on advanced peaks can be dangerous, he chooses to travel under the wing of an expert guide. The “tour” package includes many provisions for camping, all food, accommodation, excursions, and of course, expert guidance up (and back down) the world’s most dramatic peaks.

There are other tours (Contiki for example) that are geared to certain age groups and cater to their interests and travel needs. If you are new to travel or worried about being on your own in a generally dangerous place in the world, then joining a tour may be the best way for you to have a great time, while also ensuring your safety.

Travel isn’t just about getting on a plane and seeing a new place anymore. Your personality and passions can be catered to in a million different ways. So the question is: how and why do you travel?

6 Responses

  1. Amanda Kendle

    Good question, Nora! I’d put me somewhere between your category of “Nature” and my own category of “People” – I have an inherited, insane curiosity (comes from my grandmother, not my fault) for knowing how other people live and think.

    And just for the record I went on a kind of a tour for just one day and I wanted to severely injure the tour guide and most of the other tourists. But I guess it’s different strokes for different folks.

    Reply
  2. Steve in DC

    I definitely agree that the organized tour is not for me. Although I can completely enjoy myself traveling alone it is nice to travel with good friends that are like-minded and independent travelers. Then you can often do exactly what each of you want during the day and then meet for a nice dinner to compare notes.

    The why is because the world is an incredible place with so much to see and explore and discover. I love to immerse myself in the culture of a place, appreciate the history, and mix with the locals. People worldwide are proud of where they live and there is no-one better to tell you about the secret best things that should not to miss than a native. I never get tired of discovering and learning about other cultures and trying new things.

    Reply
  3. Phillip

    Yes!, to travel means to live, and if you weak up after many years and you see what you’ve done, you remember where you’ve been.. than you can see..: woow This is special!!… I’m glad I could find peoaple who are with the same ideas as mine.. thank you :-)

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    I typically travel in pursuit of culture and to learn more about other countries, but I can’t resist a good beach vacation.

    Reply
  5. Kelly

    I think travel is one of the best ways to educate yourself. My friend took her children out of school for two years to go travelling and they have learned more in 2 years than what they did after 5 years in school.

    Reply
  6. David

    Though travel is for personal enjoyment and relaxation, I agree that it does not necessarily mean one does not have to be uncomfortable. I think it is in our discomfort, even during vacation, where we can have a much more rich and deep experience and hopefully grow as a person.

    Reply

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