Is it important to see travel from the other side?

It’s a question based on the “walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins” premise: To fully understand and experience travel, do you have to spend time on the hospitality side as well?

Some might argue that not all travelers are customers of the hospitality industry. True, not too many vagabonds will be booking Club Med vacations this winter. But any traveler who has paid to ride a vehicle, or rented a room, or bought a meal in a foreign country has been on the receiving end of for-profit hospitality.

Money needn’t enter the equation, though. There are easy, non-profit ways to be on the “other side” of travel while at home: Host couchsurfers, give directions to foreigners with guidebooks, or even write up some detailed local reviews on Yelp.

If you want to work, the spectrum of options extends from temporary and seasonal work to lifelong professions: Park or cruise ship staff, hotel hosts, tour guides, translators, airline pilots, and a galaxy of other options. (This found-quickly-via-Google source pegs the global travel industry at $2 trillion dollars, responsible for 82 million jobs worldwide.)

Travel writing is one way to get behind the scenes and help other travelers, though I wonder if something is missing with the lack of face-to-face interaction between the author and the traveler.

Bottom line: When we travel, we crave face-to-face interaction with locals. But when we’re the locals, how often do we seek out the travelers who, even in remote locations, are almost always nearby?

Photo by CharlesFred via Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | July 14, 2010
Category: Hospitality, Vagabonding Life

2 Responses to “Is it important to see travel from the other side?”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    People in the hospitality industry are hard workers. They put up with travelers who may complain and whine about everything. Always treat people how you want to be treated and you’ll be fine.

  2. Lizzie Says:

    I think it’s so important to appreciate a country or city from a local’s perspective and in my opinion couch-surfing is a great idea. Not only does it let you interact with your host but you also benefit from their local knowledge and, when in the host’s position yourself lets you share your favourite sights with travellers from all over the world.