The other day I met this traveler who has been volunteering in various countries in Africa. Let’s call him Tim. He have been helping out building sanitary facilities for a tribe in Uganda. They invited him for a traditional meal and he accepted. Now this guy is actually a vegetarian and is very disgusted by the smell of meat. Now he is sitting with the tribe eating and they serve him this bloody raw sheep eye.
If you were a vegetarian, what would you have done?
Tim felt like he could not say no and thus he tried to swallow the eye at once. Of course – it can up again and he had to chew his way through and try not to throw up. It was the worst meal in his life.
This story made me think. Many travelers out there try to keep an open mind and say yes to anything along their way. Either they are afraid of saying no or they think they should try everything even if it contradict their taste or even their values. For me this is a misunderstood way of travelling.
Travelling is not about forcing yourself to do things you don’t like or don’t believe in. Travelling is supposed to enrich your life and teach you both about the world and about yourself. If you already know that you do not like to eat meat, then do not eat it. And don’t ever compromise your integrity no matter where in the world you are.
This is not about being a good “traveler” it is about being a good whole rounded human being. A true gentleman stay true to himself while still treating others politely. So how about the fear of offending your host?
In my experience, people – everywhere in the world – understand that their way of living is not the same as others. They will not get offended even if you do something that would have offended them, but because you are a foreigner they will understand. They will not judge you as they hope you will not judge them.
If you are afraid of saying no and explain your reasons, then it is more likely because of your own judgmental mind. Probably you think they will judge you because you yourself are likely to judge. People expect others to behave in the same way they do. Basically, if you expect good you are good. Not naive.
I knew that when Tim started to tell his solution for how to save the world from poverty: To convince africans not to have children so we in Europe don’t get flooded by immigrants later on. What a disgusting point of view from a volunteer worker!
I get asked a lot about how it is to travel alone. I have gathered 5 myths I hear frequently – I will tell you from my personal experience whether I think they are true or not. For the reference: atm. I have travelled to 13 different countries alone.
1. You get lonely and bored False!You will learn to enjoy your own company. By being alone you finally have the chance to reflect about life, get to know yourself and in addition immerse yourself into the place you are visiting. I have spent hours in a local café reading about the history of the country I was visiting. Tip: Make a large itinerary to keep yourself entertained and take your time sleeping in the morning (I hate getting up early :P).
2. It is dangerous! True. Unfortunately. But I would not use the word dangerous but rather unsafe. Being alone you are an easy target and you can encounter many frauds trying to take your money. Depends on where you are in the world and your gender. However, an experienced male traveler will easily avoid danger even in the most dangerous places in the world. I have backpacked all alone in one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Tip: Choose a “safe” location for your first few travels and be brave! Recommendable places are Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, Scandinavia, and Canada. Places you shouldn’t go for the first few solo trips: Turkey, USA and various middle eastern and south European countries.
3. It’s much more expensive! False! Sure, when travelling in groups you can share expenses like.. hotels, but that’s all. On the other hand, flight tickets are much cheaper for a single person than a group – not many people know this. In addition, you are faster alone so you can go further away and afford more entrances! Tip: Because you are alone you can go to places that no one else wants to go to. These places are often cheaper! Remember: There are no boring countries!
4. Eating alone is not enjoyable True! If food means a lot to you, travelling alone might be a bummer. Depends on where in the world going into a restaurant and asking for a table for one is a bit embarrassing. Well – you need to eat, so you have to do it! Tip: Go out and eat a good large breakfast and skip lunch. Eating breakfast alone is more acceptable.
5. You need to be brave and extroverted to do it Super-duper false! Everyone can do it and everyone should do it. In my opinion, introverts will actually enjoy it more. They will finally have time to enjoy their own company and immerse into their interests. Tip: Do it!
So I have decided to start up a new travel blog just like everyone else is doing. I hope you will like mine though. I promise it will be different!
I will not do the usual “Travel Guide to XX country”. Instead I will talk about some of the things I learn on my different travels. I will basically do 2 things:
Try to communicate the philosophical experience that travelling is. Basically sharing my thoughts about the world I see.
I will make a lot of lists about interesting things. My favourite places, favourite airlines, favourite anything.
Visiting historical places or significant cultural moments or even outstanding natural sceneries often throws me in a thinking mood. I am not a romantic nor a philosopher, but I like to actually try to decode the world and understand why everything is as it is. If you know me you will know I respect all cultures, all religions and only try to bring the best to the surface.
So another thing I will not do is the usual “10 things to watch out for in XX countries” or “10 most dangerous countries to go to”.
I have been to many countries on such lists and the rule of thumb is that people are just trying to live a happy life no matter the circumstances. If you meet them with interest, they will repay it with kindness. So do not be afraid and come with me on adventures all over the world 🙂
.. and PS: Tell me your honest opinion and thoughts about what I should do here. I am basically a noob