By Kalina Davis
The world we live in can be a crazy place. It is fast-paced and time-consuming. We are taught that if you can’t keep up, you will be left behind. This creates a mindset focusing on taking what we can to get by and to stay on top. A mindset claiming that success comes from taking advantage of what is around us. This mindset that permeates our world often takes root in many aspects of our lives. One aspect that it is often present in is travel. When we travel, our natural tendency is to take what we can get. With this mindset, a tourist attraction can look like people pushing and shoving, trying to be the first in line to get the perfect camera shot. Travel can be a loud, rude, and exasperating experience when the first thing on everyone’s mind is “me” and “what can I take?”
I have traveled to Africa in the past, and the nature of each trip is to serve and to give back to others. I went there with the mindset that my time there was not all about me. In my other travels, however, I neglect this mindset, and find myself climbing over all obstacles around me in order to take all that I can from the experience. As I reflected on my travel experiences both to Africa and to other places, I considered the inconsistencies of my attitude. What would it look like if I took the mindset I had in Africa and carried it over to other trips? What if all travel was less focused on me and what I could get, and more focused on what I could give?
The world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. So much more lies beneath the surface. Behind every beautiful place, there is a history, a culture, and a people. It is important to respect the world and those in it. When you travel, instead of just looking for what you can take away, keep your eyes open for what you can give in return. There may not be opportunities to give back in big ways, but there are always opportunities to give. You can give a smile to the old lady walking down the street. You can show kindness to the tourist who is clearly lost. You can give your friendship to those you encounter. You can show your manners to the hard-working waitress at the restaurant. You can show patience to the taxi driver when he is stuck in traffic, and cannot get you to your destination at the exact time you want to be there. You can give your respect to the places you visit. When you choose to look beyond yourself, your travel experience can become more meaningful and memorable.
Next time you travel, I challenge you to take a step back. Look beyond yourself and your own agenda. Consider what you can give, and not just what you can take. When you choose to do so, you may be surprised by how much you will actually gain.
Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.
Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel
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