An article that’s been causing a bit of gip at the moment in the (shudder) “Blogosphere” has been a post entitled “4 Reasons Travelling is a Waste of Time“. I’m not a reader of said blog – in fact I was just driven to it by a tweet Gary Arndt made – but I can’t help but feel her points were shortsighted. Rather than just say that, I’m going to take each point I made, and why I disagree with it.
1. There are more effective ways to try new things.
Really? What better place to try Thai cooking than in Thailand? Also, have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons whereby Bart finds out he can speak French just by surrounding himself in French for 2 months? Newsflash, that does happen. The most effective way to try something new is to immerse yourself in it. Why do you learn to drive on the roads rather than from a book? Because it’s effective. The example she gave was changing the world by using your local forest rather than an African Jungle. Which is admirable, but it’ll be a bit tricky to save tigers when there’s no tigers in your local forest.
2. Cultural differences are superficial. Economic differences matter.
I take it this person has never been to the far east. Sure a lot of the world (particularly the colonial world) has a lot of similarities. Even most of Europe’s similar. However, travel to the far east, Latin America, North Africa or some of the Asian subcontinent, and you will see a completely different world. Sure, these people may be similar, but at the end of the day, they are subtly different to be noticeable. It’s amazing how little we evolve as one beyond the McDonalds & Capital cities.
3. People who love their lives don’t leave.
Again, I wouldn’t say I’m completely happy with my lot, but I know people who were (and happy I’m using as “wife, kids & secure job”…not that it ever would make me happy) head off for six months with the blessings of their family & employment and having the time of their lives. I think that people who don’t love their lives generally surround themselves in material items. But what do I know? People may just love having crap. I love travelling. If I love travelling and I’m doing it in my life. Then I love my life.
4. Travel is not the time to do deep thinking.
Why not? Travelling is not what you see, it’s how you see it. I’ve stood in the Colluseum in Rome and was completely unmoved by it, yet sat outside a cafe in central Bangkok and just thought it was incredible. I’ve had some of my best ideas on trains, planes & boats on my travels, and made some life changing decisions travelling.
Of course, I’ll bring you back to point 3. Nobody, not me, not Penelope Trunk, nobody can say that anything is a waste of time or not a waste of time. Hell, I spend most of my weekends screaming at men in trunks and baby oil who have staged fights. Is that a waste of time? No, because anything that’s fun is not a waste of time.
And besides, as somebody who claims to have experience with networking, really should learn to love travelling.