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February 4, 2014

We’re traveling in someone’s backyard

Ganesha-Bali

Whenever you go on a trip to visit foreign lands or distant places, remember that they are all someone’s home and backyard.

— Vera Nazarian

Our first year traveling full time we spent on bicycles. It was a beautiful way to see the world. The drumbeat of pedal strokes become meditation, if you do it long enough. The predictable pattern to days is comforting in its simplicity: Pack the tent, ride 25 miles, picnic in the sun, ride 25 miles, set up the tent. Wash, rinse, repeat. Cycling forces an interaction with the landscape and the people who inhabit it that travel inside a vehicle does not. I love that.

But then, we turned a corner, our gap year became our life and we realized that we were going to keep going, keep traveling and our approach changed. We slowed down. We took to renting places for a few months at time instead of packing the tents every day. In sitting still we see a place differently than we do if we’re moving through, even if we’re moving in the slowest, most interactive way possible.

What is new and exotic to me is mundane to someone else. My favourite beach and dive vacation spot is on a stretch of ocean that is life and economic stability to someone else. The secret place I love to spend the winter might be heaven to me, but it’s a status quo prison to my friend who cannot escape it.

I don’t think about this enough. Most people don’t, I’d wager. If we did, we would travel differently, perhaps. Can we talk about that? How does the knowledge, and a growing understanding, of the fact that everywhere we go is someone else’s home and backyard change how we walk through this world? How should it?

Posted by | Comments (3) 
Category: Travel Quote of the Day


3 Responses to “We’re traveling in someone’s backyard”

  1. Stephen Says:

    I think a broader understanding of this simple idea could lead to so much more meaningful interaction between travelers and local communities! Once you really understand this I think you naturally start to respect places a little bit more, whether that plays out in choices of clothing or understanding of touts that are trying to make a living.

  2. DEK Says:

    In my experience, I think it is a “given” of travel. I have always been aware that they live there and speak the language and the people know them and their families and their roots are there and I am an outsider. But I am of a generation that expected to leave home and move from place to place in pursuit of a career and even when I returned to the place I had grown up, it would be someone else’s home, not mine.

    Another reason, perhaps peculiar to my own travel, is that as much as anything I did not go primarily to see beaches or scenery, but to see how people live there, to see what they think a good life is. When I started traveling I was very much interested in this question. I am less so now, as what I saw when I went to these places helped me make peace with my own life.

  3. Jennifer Miller Says:

    Stephen- Agreed
    DEK-I do think the “why” behind a person’s journey does colour their experience and how they travel… it is a “given,” as you say, for someone who is people and life-design focused. Less so, in the crowd that’s all about checking things off of the list.

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