I was at the San Francisco International Airport recently waiting for a flight to Austin and discovered a travel magazine called AFAR. I thought it was interesting because it presented travel stories in less popular and unexpected places around the world.
There were also documentary-like stories about people and how their lives were shaped based on their exposure to travels and family backgrounds; not just simple narratives with writers talking about what they did or saw in a particular destination. The magazine says it’s about “experiential travel.” In some sense that seems to resonate with the age we are living in. I am based in San Francisco and most of the values here relate to activism and progressivism or technology and entrepreneurship. As the Internet becomes more influential in our lives, I think the irony is that more people are wanting to disconnect themselves and seek out stronger human experiences via travel. I’m not referring to that someone who backpacks around Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget for a month to “find themselves”, but more about a worldwide ethos where global society and human beings are seeking out experiences for self-fulfillment. People are getting exhausted of the wired life – managing overflowing inboxes, keeping up on Twitter and Facebook, grabbing the best online deals, texting and pressing buttons incessantly, etc. Society is simply forgetting how to be human and how to relate to people in real time, in person. Traveling encourages us to interact and be human again.
I’ve visited New York, London and Paris. They are interesting and vibrant cities but the rest of the world has so much to offer beyond these so called “world-class” destinations. I think the beauty and intellectual delight of international travel is discovering the unfamiliar. Or perhaps beauty is experienced by doing something uncommon in a common destination such as New York, London and Paris.