First of all, there’s probably no point in reading what I have to say without knowing something about me – enough to be able to put my words in to context. So, without giving you an unnecessary biography, here’s what kind of traveller I am.
Born in England, I’ve been to roughly 25 countries in my 33 years, some only very briefly on holiday, others as a backpacker. This most recent trip was very much as the latter, sticking to about $10-$20 per day depending on the place. To do this meant mostly taking public transport rather than taxis and/or tours, staying in reasonable but not lavish accommodation and eating in plenty of ‘local’ places too. As a result, we got a pretty good idea of how the average tourist travels around, what they might see and who they might meet. We also found ourselves miles from any other backpackers and gained glimpses of how the people of those countries live. Of course, I’d never claim to know how any other person experiences life, so I won’t pretend to here.
While travelling I always try to treat people with the respect, politeness and understanding I think we all deserve. Of course it’s easy to say that, but heat, dust, lack of sleep and lying rickshaw drivers can push us all beyond our normal limits and I’m no exception! Equally, few people would say they try to be mean, rude or disrespectful whilst on their travels – but many are. How you behave is probably determined by how you see the world and yourself (and perhaps your nation) within it. Being English, it would be easy for me to see it as a place I used to all but own, or certainly dominate; the rest of the world should be grateful for the things my ancestors brought them. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, as you may see if you read more of my posts, I verge (unintentionally) towards the apologetic and consequently have a tendency to think things through probably way too much – to the point of it being debilitating in many instances. As we all know, being aware of things (or simply being aware there are things we should be aware of…even if we aren’t quite sure what they are!) can sometimes be more of a problem than being ignorant.
Having said that, for me, one of the most important things about travelling is facing these internal challenges – there are so many situations that draw out the contradictions in us and can both disgust and inspire us in equal measure. How do you reconcile shouting ‘I SAID NOOOOOOOOOO!’ to a woman asking you for money to feed the child in her arms? Can you? How we process and come to terms with all of this is hopefully the greatest lesson and greatest gain we can emerge from traveling with. Or…we can end up even more confused than when we first set off!
These posts might give an indication as to which is true for me!