When did the point of travel become to visit as many places as possible, while keeping local interaction to a minimum?
It’s become easy for travellers to see exotic locales while avoiding the culture of a place. There are resorts all over the world that allow for a completely westernized experience, but with the benefits of perfect weather and idyllic beaches.
Some tours and vacation packages do ensure a level of cultural exposure, but even these excursions tend to run on tight schedules, moving from one destination to the next with an efficiency that caters to western preferences and time lines. Is this really the point of travel? How much are we missing by trying to see everything too fast?
I’m a terrible traveller: I love to visit new cities, but always end up stopping somewhere, due to a mixture of exhaustion and curiosity. My best travel experiences can’t even be labeled as such, because they involve staying in one place.
When you stay, you can begin to grow into the community of that area. If you go with a purpose, like learning a local language or volunteering, your new neighbours will begin to know and respect you. I invite you to visit fewer places, and stay longer. Live with a family in a small neighbourhood, and allow yourself to be beautifully taken care of. You may be surprised at what you find: real, honest community and a deeper and more meaningful overseas experience.
Bronwyn McBride is a student from Vancouver, BC, and now lives between India and Canada. After quitting her intensive study of circus arts and dance in Quebec, Bronwyn flew across the globe alone to see if she could live in a very different way. It wasn’t her first visit to India, and wouldn’t be her last!
Wherever she is, Bronwyn explores different ways to volunteer and get involved with local communities. She’s worked with severely disabled kids in a Mother Teresa orphanage in Kolkata, crossed the country with a social change performance tour, and has spent long months through the boiling summer in Varanasi, working in a school for girls. Next up: enjoying volunteerism and a foray into Bollywood in India’s cosmopolitan metropolis, Mumbai.
More of Bronwyn’s writing can be found at: www.bronwyngrace.wordpress.com