When was the last time you traveled for a vacation? Picture it for me. Where were you? On a beach? At a resort? Somewhere you could “get away” from the hustle of your life and work? A place you could relax?
When was the last time you stepped way outside of your comfort zone? Interacted with foreign locals? Shared a laugh with them? Shared a meal with them? Have you ever?
As I travel, I meet a lot of travelers from Europe and Australia who have a lot of time off, or at least more than Americans, and they’re able to take trips where they’re actually doing things beyond sleeping in a cabana and staying in the confines of a resort. They’re not being carted around in groups and only doing things organized for them. Sure, there is a ton of partying for the younger crowds, but I meet a lot of people who are actually interested in local culture, food, and life. Long vacations afford these people the ability to get the best of both worlds: relaxation and cultural immersion. Why hasn’t America caught up yet?
I’ve met very few Americans out here in Asia; I mean, I’ve met some. A lot of them work out here, they literally “escaped the 9-5” as stated in the first lines of their Instagrams. But I meet more European, Canadian, and Australian people than I do anyone else. They’re not escaping their lives, they’re just on a long vacation exploring the world because they can DO that.
I’m not here to criticize the American workforce; I mean, I get it. I understand why you want to spend your vacations relaxing and not thinking about anything other than when your next drink is coming. You only get 2 weeks off, if you’re lucky. Some people aren’t even afforded that. But doesn’t that fucking suck? Why does anyone put up with this? In hopes that one day, in retirement, when we’re old and unable to do half of the things we were able to do when we were younger, that we’ll be able to do these things?
It’s important to do these things because it’s important to have compassion and understand people who are not like you. My favorite parts of traveling and my most memorable moments have to do with being able to take a step back and look at myself; they have to do with experiencing culture and connecting with locals, and I hate knowing that not everyone is interested in doing that because their brains are so fried from their daily lives. You can love greater when you take the time to understand others. You change as a person and your mind opens. I learn so much by just sitting down and having a conversation with someone and getting to know who they are and the way they live. Even just by observing them, sometimes. There truly is no greater learning experience or experience in general.
Next time you go on vacation, consider going beyond your comfort zone. Even if it’s just for an hour; it’s a step in the right direction.
Until next time,
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Hi from THAILAND! I made a whole bunch of Thai food today, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed with myself. I know how to deep fry things now and am comfortable doing so, which is definitely NOT something I should have learned how to do! This was my second “cooking class” that I’ve done while in Asia, and it’s becoming one of my favorite ways to learn about a place and its culture. Food IS culture. Next week, I’ll be going to a village outside of Chiang Mai to learn more about Thai food and culture.. but more on that when it actually happens (I’m SO EXCITED!!!).