Is it about facts or life?
Somebody asked me this week about how many countries I have traveled, and my first reaction was to think carefully since I don’t keep a track. But accounting quickly, they’re probably at least 60 for business and pleasure, but especially, because I see myself as a world citizen and a conscious traveler.
This last point is more important than statistics. What do we learn from the world? How do we expand our tolerance levels? Can we connect with other cultures and get the best of them? It’s not a marathon, a contest, a record or just the urgency of completing a photo album.
Recently, Lexie Alford a 21-year-old girl Californian, became the youngest person to travel the world and visit its 196 countries. As she explained, she wanted to show the virtues of every culture, despite the problems in each one.
However, many journalists just insisted on the cold fact in light of the possibility of breaking a world record. Why do we always pretend to turn the experience into statistics? Every word I have read from Lexie’s adventures is very inspiring, from her appeal to young people to get whatever they want to the idea that everything is possible.
Before her, James Asquith, a young Londoner that descents from Greeks and Spanish people, also toured the world. Like Lexie, his motivation was not to capture destinations, as if it were trophies. The idea was born in Vietnam, where he had traveled as a volunteer to build houses. There began the adventure of knowing the world and -the intention- of knowing himself better, according to his own statements.
How wonderful are Lexie and James stories! None of them had mounts of resources, but doses of ingenuity and determination to make their dreams true.
An investigation of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, identified in 2017 the main motivations of people passionate about traveling, among them, the seek for self-knowledge and personal growth, the interest to experience cultural diversity, the need to break with the routine and the search for authenticity and freedom.
The great writer, Mark Twain, once said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”.
Let’s thank Lexie, James, and many other modern explorers who understand that “experiences” outweigh “belongings”.