What is to truly travel?

Key Takeaway: True traveling is adapting an open and mindful mind while staying true to yourself, as opposed to being unaware, intentionally or not, of the ways around you. The latter leads to a less-than-fulfilled experience, while the former makes you grow and appreciate more – one step closer to practicing true personal CSR.


Ideas do have a way of popping in on you sometimes. For tonight’s thoughts, I stumbled upon an infographic on Pinterest, and this infographic shall serve as the basis of my reflections for tonight. Enough about me.

So, do you like traveling? I do, and given the money, I would jet off as much as I could. But as of now, that will have to wait. Nevertheless, the times I do travel, I try to make the most of it.

I always get a little thrown off whenever I arrive at the question on the immigration part regarding the purpose of my trip. Since my only travels, apart from my study tour and exchange term, have been for vacation purposes, I always tick off the box corresponding to my being a tourist.

I didn’t give it a thought until I saw this infographic this morning from Land of Travel, contributed by Michael Sproul for The Carefree Traveler:

Land of Travel/The Carefree Traveler (click to visit)
Land of Travel/The Carefree Traveler (click to visit)

Now, I don’t mean to imply that “tourists” should be discriminated against, and I don’t think LoT intended to do that. But there does seem to be a connotation that there is a sub-class of the traveling public who may be somewhat more naïve, less sensitive, and travel leisurely for the sake of saying they’ve been there without really getting to know the place. If you were traveling for business and can only squeeze in so much time, then that’s a different discussion.

Copyright 2008 Allister Roy S. Chua
Copyright 2008 Allister Roy S. Chua

I believe the point of this infographic and its accompanying post is to encourage the values of true traveling – going on an adventure and exploring the world. Why do we travel leisurely? Do we simply want an outlet for our money? Do we just want photos in world-renowned landmarks? Or even, do we want to prove that we are superior?

Or is it because we feel we are called to adventure the other results of creation and history? See another language for ourselves, maybe? Another culture? Do we feel there is a great opportunity in learning about others so that we can truly appreciate individuality and diversity, and respect and build on it to promote the global agenda of love and justice?

True personal CSR shows respect – not necessarily agreement, but at the least acknowledgement and respect – for differences. Now, if it were a difference that compromises eternal values, that’s a different question. But, really, most cultures are simply humanity’s varying ways of understanding themselves, the world, and ultimately our God. And God Himself created and loves variety. So it’s only fair to respect other peoples, cultures, and norms, even if they are not exactly to our taste.

Traveling also makes us grow. For one, we learn independence. Another, we learn adaptation – how to leave our comfort zone yet still Make The Most out of what’s there. In being able to learn for ourselves the inner workings of different societies – and this doesn’t just apply to Abroad, it also applies to different cities in your country! – we really learn more and get to handle ourselves in different ways, different ways that may actually seem more suited to us.

Of course, the only way you can get to practice personal CSR when traveling is to have an open mind – a mind that is humble and always willing to learn. How can you understand that what may at first seem to be naïveté or light-heartedness actually translates to innate optimism and hope if you judge right away? You’d also make things hard for yourself, feeling unhappy in your travels and becoming more and more excited for your flight back home.

Be yourself, but be open as well. Be mindful and sensitive to others, and others will in turn treat you the same. Now, I want to jet out of here…

Happy weekend!


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