When I was younger and would use poor grammar, my father used to correct me with the exasperating phrase “Ouch- that hurt my ears!” As frustrating as it was to have to stop in mid-sentence, correct myself, and then continue, it was in fact effective.
As an adult, I’ve silently struggled with a similar “Ouch- that hurt my ears!” scenario that I hear people say all the time when talking about where they have traveled or where they want to go:
“Oh, I did France last summer.”
“I really want to do Nepal.”
“I’ve done South America.”
What does this mean, to “do” a country? How could you possibly have “done” an entire continent? Even if you have explored every 6.9 million square miles of South America – experiences are never static. You could visit 6.9 million times and have a completely different experience each trip. And learn something new each visit as well.
I know it seems fussy to zero-in on one word (of course I know what is meant by the phrase) – but in the same way that my father would have me stop, reflect on my word use, and correct myself- I think we can do the same for this ubiquitous word usage of “doing” a place. And the issue seems to be systemic.
The phrase to ‘do’ a place is more than just mere words. It is a symptom of a screwy approach to traveling. Traveling is not a checklist. It is not a competition of how many places you’ve been. ‘Doing’ a place sounds like you’ve conquered it. And, ouch. That hurts my ears.
Sure, I understand that if you visit Egypt, you will want to see the Great Pyramids. Just in the same way, a first time visitor to Paris would of course want to visit the Eiffel Tower. But if traveling is merely an agenda of places to see and do – you are in danger of missing out on what traveling is all about.
The people, the sounds, the experiences are infinite. See the World Wonder, but don’t forget to wander the alleyways. Stop-in for a rest in a local teahouse. Overcome language barriers during long conversation with a newfound friend.
Don’t resist revisiting the same place again and again (without fear of missing out on something else) if that’s what you desire.
Because even if you haven’t seen those 1000 Places to See Before You Die as many others before you have, every new travel experience is your own.
And that doesn’t hurt my ears at all.
~ Ashley Hiemenz, Blog Contributor
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Why is now the prime time to start planning your 2015 WorldStrides International Discovery program? The earlier you start planning, the easier it is to recruit. …AND travelers have plenty of time to break up the tour cost into small monthly payments. Better yet, we have five new tours to choose from!
Check out our exciting new offerings for 2015!
Journey to southern Spain and enjoy the architecture of Gaudi in Barcelona including Parc Guell, Casa Mila, and the stunning Sagrada Familia. Then explore Dali’s hometown and museum before zipping off to Andalucia. In and on your way to Granada, you’ll experience beautiful natural caves in Zuheros and the peaceful palace of Alhambra. Check out the full itinerary.
It’s like no other place on earth: The lush landscape of Iceland, from steaming waters to snow-capped mountains, will captivate you with its natural wonders. Relax in waters heated by the earth’s core and feel your heart race with thundering waterfalls. You’ll be amazed by the breathtaking sights of Iceland’s natural and geological beauty! Check out the full itinerary.
Explore the two capitals of Spain when you travel from Madrid to Seville. The Spanish capital of Madrid combines a long and proud history, exquisite art and a vibrant modern culture. Juxtapose city life with life on the river in Andalucia’s capital – Seville. Experience Flamenco, bullfighting, and their unique Moorish architectural styles whilst in Seville. Check out the full itinerary.
Explore Mozart’s birthplace, King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle, and experience the unforgettable Berlin Wall Museum. This trip across Germany (with a quick stop in Austria) will expose students to the vast history and culture, both grand and terrible, that the region has to offer. Check out the full itinerary.
Journey to southeast Asia and explore the cities of Ho Chi Minh, Siem Reap, and Bangkok. Experience the Mekong Delta waterways and the Taiwanese klongs. See the Buddhist lifestyle firsthand within the ancient temples such as Angkor Wat and in the Grand Palace with its beautiful Emerald Buddha. Check out the full itinerary.
In addition to the awesome tours I’ve outlined above, we also have hundreds of other tours to choose from. So check out one of our brand new tours, browse our handy tour selector, or even create a custom tour that perfectly meets your needs. Either way we are here waiting to assist you in any way. Happy travels!
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Blog Contributer Ashley, trekking Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal
I often write about the intrinsic benefits of traveling: How lives can be changed forever by the sole act of visiting a new country or culture, how discovering a new place is also an act of self-discovery, how travel can be so inspiring, it literally transforms us.
I say and write these words so often that it can become mechanical, and I have to remind myself, as a traveler, the transformation that occurs is genuine. The changes are perhaps not so tangible that you find yourself unrecognizable – in fact, sometimes they are so deep-rooted that they might go unnoticed.
But they are very real.
If I could benchmark my worldview throughout my life, I would find that I thought much differently about the world when I was younger than the way I think about the world now. Everyone would, right?
But, travel has molded my perceptions in ways that they never could have been otherwise.
Did you know there are places in Southern France where the toilets are just holes in the ground? I discovered this when I was nine on my first international trip with my family. Sure, I remember the Eiffel Tower. Sure, I vaguely remember Notre Dame. And yes, I think I remember seeing my first Monet at the Musee D’Orsay.
But I definitely remember those hole-in-the-ground toilets.
As silly as it sounds, it is the little experiences like these that change our small worldviews. I was forever connected with a memory of another place that was unlike anything I had been used to. As children, these connections begin to reframe us.
And yes, travel can cause discomfort. We can be suddenly awakened to the fact that we are incredibly small and unimportant. And our place within the world can become challenged.
And sometimes we feel very spoiled.
But this uneasiness is just our mind’s way of telling us that it’s changing. And these transformations could never occur without taking us out of the safety net of our home surroundings.
And then we start to see the world differently. We begin to feel grateful. We begin to realize there is no us and them– that really, people are people anywhere in the world. That a country’s GDP doesn’t necessarily correlate to its people’s levels of happiness.
We discover life is not just about how much money we earn or how many things we own. That what we see and learn and experience is what truly defines us. And the more connections we create– the bigger our mind grows.
This is how travel changes us.
~Ashley Hiemenz, Blog Contributor
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