So We’re All Globetrotters. And Now What.

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Globetrotter (noun): a habitual worldwide traveller.

Also: a point we might have been past.

The Price Tag on our Priorities

They say that you can’t put a price tag on experiences, but I’d argue the opposite: you can put a price tag on anything, and travel has become a first-class commodity. Photogenic travel especially.  Photogenic travel is the new Birkin bag. Actually, considering its social media status, it might be even more. Because while material “necessities” often come with labels like greedyshallowaddicted or phony, travel implies quite the contrary. Authentic. Sophisticated. And funnily enough: Independent.

The globetrotters are not only seen as those living a lifestyle dream, but also as people who have gotten their priorities in the right order. An international experience is considered to be an inevitable chapter of every aspiring CV, and a travel blogger is the kind of influencer that deserves the most praise. So we’re getting hysterical about plastic straws but worship a lifestyle that includes flying from one country to another every few weeks. We cherish our intercultural semesters abroad and volunteering experiences in Cambodia, but grumble about stinky homeless people in the subway when at home.

… At least we got the priorities right.

Achieving a Privilege

As a person who has been living abroad since being 19 years old, I never understand why is traveling being recognized as an achievement. Viewing my own years abroad as an achievement seems like a sick joke. Don’t get me wrong: being able to travel, study and work in different countries and meet people of all kinds and shapes has been wonderful and rewarding. And yes; many components of this journey are achievements that I can definitely be proud of. Handling difficult situations on my own, overcoming my fears or saving money aside are some of them. But overall, my travel isn’t an achievement. It’s a privilege.

Traveling means you’re forced out of your comfort zone so you don’t even have to proactively ditch it. Traveling means you don’t have to take care of certain things back home. It also socially assigns you a fair amount of cultural capital that you don’t ever have to deserve.

Ironically, traveling makes a whole lot of things much easier.

And let’s be completely honest here. While many globetrotters, including a few of my friends, inspire and motivate me, the people I admire the most are often those who have stayed at one place and managed all of these things on their own, without the external push.

 

Everywhere and Nowhere

It was the book The Christmas Mystery where Jostein Gaarder described two kinds of wisdom in the world .

  • One can be acquired through traveling, going places and seeing everything.
  • The other one comes from staying at one place and observing closely.

The trick is, you can’t ever achieve both of them in one lifetime. And I feel as if nowadays, we all choose the first kind of wisdom.

Why are the people who choose the second kind of wisdom marked with the stigma of being lazy, small-minded, unsuccessful? Why is expansion an acclaimed merit but cultivation is being frowned upon?

While going might require courage, staying is also a decision that needs to be consciously made.

I worry sometimes that we’ll be the hologram generation that flies from one place to another with a speed of light, this all without developing any hint of substance. And yes, I worry I’m becoming a part of that, too. I’m writing these lines in a loud Starbucs in NYC – ask me again about authenticity, lol. It’s pouring rain outside and I worry that while we’re instagramming the whole planet Earth, we’re missing out on something that’s right around the corner. And that even as a globetrotter, being everywhere with your eyes closed still counts as not being anywhere at all.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “So We’re All Globetrotters. And Now What.”

  1. Really enjoyed reading this article! It would also depend on what we consider to be travelling. Does going abroad to live in Berlin for 5 years count as travelling? Maybe. But what about going back home for a weekend after a few years, to see relatives? Maybe I’m just a traveller in my home country now.
    But definitions aside, what I see more problematic is the way travelling has transformed into checking off to-do lists. Going to Paris? Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame, Arc-de-Triomphe, maybe go for a coffee. Done. Going to Vietnam? Hanoi, Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hoi An, and have some tea and noodle soups in-between. Done. You have seen Vietnam. You have ‘done’ Paris. No need to go back. It’s off the list now. Well done. Hope your pics are online yet? Friends will be well jealous… And tomorrow, don’t forget to put on the elephant pants you bought in Thailand.
    In short, travelling with your eyes closed is becoming the new norm…

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  2. I agree so very much 💖 This is such a nice article! And it hits close to home. It’s sometimes so hard to pick the context in which you’d like to keep growing (pushing yourself, challenging your comfort or whatever you’d like to call it). And for someone who’s been abroad for so long & is so used to it by now, it can actually be an easier option to stay outside telling herself that that’s the way to go. Being in one place and building a life there becomes a bit of a foreign concept, scary even. I don’t know. I think about it all the time.

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