In the old days – and by those I mean the days that we were all still living without the help of multinationals, stock markets or pharmaceutical industries- when we travelled; we did that basically to explore ourselves through exploring the world.
On a personal level the aim was to observe other ways of living in other cultures and find means of survival in the way one provided for oneself. A Journey with a capitol J, during which someone learned to change the world by changing oneself, broadening the horizon in more than one way. Adolescents from indigenous tribes sometimes still go on this sort of self-quest. In Australia it is known as Walkabout; a rite of passage to make the transition into adult life.
Back to Stardate 2018, in our consumers society day and age, the concept of traveling has roughly divided itself into three groups.
- There’s one group of people, youngsters mostly, that pack their backpack and travel to far away countries. The quest to find oneself certainly in the loop here.
- Then there’s another group of travellers, where people expect to be pampered at snow white beaches, cruises and restaurants for affordable prices.
- The third group is sort of a middle of the road group; people going to wellness resorts , hiking the Himalayas or walking the pilgrimage to Santiago; a combination of the quest for Self, while enjoying the hostels and restaurants that have sprouted in a touristy sort of way to accommodate their pilgrims.
Now, while a Walkabout is pretty much a metaphor for the Journey of Life itself; acquiring insights and getting to know oneself better; I can hardly state the same for going on an all inclusive hotel in some tropical destination; the extreme of version 2 in my overview, indulging in too much sun, drink, dance and food. Even more so I think that modern day tourism is often more an escape from life and oneself, than an exploration into how to expand yourself as a human being.
It is with utter amazement that I watch these programs on televion of young people on Greek islands drinking themselves into a coma, subsequently being treated in the local hospital for alcohol poisoning. My amazement is build both on the self- destructiveness of these young people as well as the fact that it is shown on television as entertainment. Or is it to warn the public against the evils and degeneracy of the human race? Maybe I missed something.
Another thing that seems to have escaped the pampered tourist’s attention is that flying to and staying in all inclusive hotels in touristy places. causes enormous environmental stress, not just because of the airplanes and airports but also to the locals who on average aren’t that rich; and now have to pay even more for their daily groceries thanks to the resorts and their lavish menu’s pushing up the prices of local products.
So maybe when planning you next getaway, you might want to reconsider what it is exactly you are looking for? Is it indeed an ‘escape’ or is it a walkabout?
Ingrid Schippers, September 4, 2018
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The abridged spoken version of this blog, features as end note on ‘Dutchbuzz’, the radio hour for Internationals every Tuesday from 10 to 11 pm on ‘Den Haag FM and can be found in the Programme Archive of the Dutchbuzz podcasts, dated September 4 , 2018.