Here’s Why You SHOULDN’T Travel

Are you considering quitting your job? Traveling the world? Going to teach English in a place where you’re making more than the locals? 

Well, maybe you shouldn’t. 

Yeah, I said it – maybe you shouldn’t travel.

You shouldn’t travel if you don’t plan on having any sort of positive impact on the place you’re going to visit or live. 

You shouldn’t travel if you’re going to go to a foreign country and get frustrated and angry because no one can speak English as well as you want them to. Maybe they can’t speak English at all. You’re in their country. No one owes you anything.

You shouldn’t travel if you’re going to go to a foreign country and make a complete and utter ass of yourself and not take what you do seriously. The value of your dollar might be higher. You might have more education. But those things don’t give you any right to negatively impact a place, insult locals, or cause problems. You might need their help one day. Remember that you are a guest. 

You shouldn’t travel if you’re going to be offended or upset because a culture lives differently than how you’re used to back at home. Your way of living is not the only way to live. An entire culture is not going to change just because you don’t like them. And do you know what? They don’t have to. They have lived a certain way for hundreds of years. Some places are still digging themselves out of poverty. They are still growing. Some places don’t even have clean drinking water. Not every culture is going to think the same way you do. It is no one’s fault, and you literally have no right to complain about the way others live. They’ve survived this long without your opinion. An entire society cannot change over a single decade… but I assure you, many places are trying. 

You shouldn’t travel if you like to generalize entire populations of cultures and judge them. Just because you met one unsavory person from a certain culture does not mean they are all the same. Just because you get frustrated because things aren’t the way you want them doesn’t give you the right to be borderline racist or discriminatory. Just because some cultures like to eat dogs doesn’t mean that they’re bad people. Is it weird to think about? Sure. But it doesn’t matter. You probably eat weird shit from their perspective. Stop judging what you cannot understand. Accept it and move on.

You shouldn’t travel if you don’t know how to reflect upon your differences from others. If being around people who are different than you doesn’t make you think about your own life and values, you shouldn’t travel – because reflection is a huge component of not only being a responsible traveler, but also just flat out being a decent human being.

As someone who has just moved to a new city, I see a lot of… unsavory expats. They are not all bad, but some of them truly do make a horrible name for the rest of us. Don’t be one of them. Take what you do seriously. Don’t be a dick. Make an actual effort to learn about different cultures. Accept others for who they are. You might just be going somewhere on vacation or for a cushy life, but some people are not. Where you are is someone’s home. Don’t treat it like your stomping ground. You are not above anyone else in this world – we are all humans just trying to survive. And please… remember the impact you can have on the world if you behave a certain way, whether positive or negative. Try to be the best person you can be; although you might not change the entire world, you can definitely change someone’s life.

Sorry for ranting, but thank you for reading. 

Until next time,

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  • Barbara Charlette

    Spot on! I am not one for rants but this is legit. So happy to hear a wonderful expat like you will be teaching English to young Vietnamese! One of my favorite memories in Hanoi was a young boy of no more than ten who approached me to practice his English. Congratulations!

  • Sabina

    You are right. I really love what you have to say. The world is so diverse with so many different cultures and religions and ideas, beliefs, traditions, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, etc. As travelers we always need to remember that one of the benefits of traveling is being able to experience, learn about and even get to know other cultures. We can best do this if we’re open minded.

    It’s not that our own culture does everything the right way and other cultures do things the wrong way. Different cultures are different. Travelers tend to be open minded people to begin with, but sometimes in places very different from what we’re used to, travelers might need to remind themselves to continue being open minded. Travel can be possibly the best learning experience that exists. Don’t judge people in other cultures and expect them to be like you. Accept them for who they are and what they know and what they do, and you can really grow as a traveler and a person.

    Excellent post! I’m sharing it.

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