by Weronika Kajdanska
Planning things thoroughly, packing a bag, getting all your things prepared. You are ready for the trip. So let the game begin! You are entering an exciting world of adventure and thrill as soon as you close the door behind you. But what actually stands behind travel as we see it?
Globalization transformed it, shaped it into a completely new activity.
“You know how most travel today is? I think of it like fast food – it’s efficient and consistent, at the cost of local and authentic.” Says Joe Gebbia – Designer and co-founder of Airbnb.
The tourism industry comes into play, providing its customers with all sorts of things they might need. Starting from hotels through food and ending with activities and plans for the day.
So you are in Paris. What would you do? Take some pictures with Eiffel tower for Instagram, have some coffee and croissant for breakfast in a nice local café. What next? Buying some souvenirs (what a surprise!), visiting some places of interest? By the end of the trip everybody is satisfied: you, glad that you have pushed yourself to such an adventure; local entrepreneurs, happy with money in their pockets.
So predictable, so stereotypical.
But it’s not our fault, it’s the way our minds work trying to minimize risk.
Let’s look closer. The travelling process becomes a pattern:
Choose location – get there – find a place to stay – go sightseeing. This pattern can be recognized by a person pretty soon and here is where the issues begin. It’s not fun anymore – something is wrong and you have no idea why. Your smartphone is full of pictures of that nice places and you don’t enjoy them anymore. Moreover, you start thinking ‘There is ton of same pictures in google. Was there a point in my trip then?’
Here is what has really happened.
You created your own tiny world. Its you there, with all your habits, skills traditions and mentality. And it’s enclosed. Nothing gets out and what is more important – nothing gets IN.
The solution is easy and obvious. Going to China? Become Chinese then.
But it’s easy to say, right? Now you probably have this controversial question: “How to feel at home when you are not actually at home?’ We label people as strangers or what is even worth – we don’t interact with them at all. This has to be stopped. There are a lot of trending websites like Couchsurfing or Airbnb where you can meet up with locals, stay with someone or host a traveler.
Letting a stranger sleep in your house – sounds crazy, right. That’s because we consider our home as something extremely private. But it’s not that crazy at all.
Now imagine yourself on a trip. You are staying with local people, eat the food they cooked, participate in their routine activities, hear them speaking their languages. You have no other choice then do everything the way they are used to. So basically you gain this experience of ‘becoming Chinese’.
It’s important to keep in mind that It’s not only us who need to meet locals, but also locals who want to meet foreigners. Win-win situation. In this world when it’s extremely hard to meet new people because we are too busy dealing with our own life, it turns out that it’s not only us.
What if we turn our fears into curiosity, isolation into connection, prejudices into trust? Start sharing instead of cumulating.
That’s where the true adventure begins.