The author John Steinbeck once wrote “a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” Unfortunately, most of us have been journeying in the wrong way. We meticulously try to plan out our travel plans to the last, minute detail. We make reservations at well-known hotels where the rooms look no different than our own bedroom; we book treks to mountain tops where we already know the stunning panoramic views that await us at the top; we reserve “cultural experiences” that we have already seen on YouTube videos and that are tailored to the whims and expectations of tourists.
In short, we fail to ever truly experience the genuine reality of the places we visit because we construct that reality from behind a computer or because we allow some travel agent to assemble a reality for us. We fail to feel authentic awe at the wonders we experience, because we’ve already seen them through a screen and know what to expect.
Marcel Proust advises the traveler that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Allowing ourselves to have new eyes obliges us to let go of our desire to control every experience; to let things happen organically; to be subjected to realities and experiences that we might not understand at the moment, but which will “make all the difference” in the end.
By choosing to journey into the concrete, particular contexts of real places and communities, we are allowing ourselves to experience the natural wonders that don’t show up Google Images. We have the opportunity to get to know cultures from an intimate, personal perspective, and not from the watered-down cultural “shows” so often posed to the applauding tourist. And as Maya Angelou tells us, we also have the opportunity to discover that “all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die” and that authentic travel “can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
The Meaning from Inconsequential Decisions
Taking the road less traveled when touring the wide world we live in not only allows you to support the people and communities who most need and deserve the benefits that tourism offers, but it also will allow you to encounter unseen fragments of the reality we all share. The meaning and significance of choosing how you travel can have profound implications both on your life and on the lives of those you stumble upon through your journeys.
Forward Momentum Travel specializes in arranging journeys down the road less traveled.