Wednesday, 31 October 2012 18:58

The Traveling Armchair - Welcome!

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Welcome to the Resort LIFE blog!

My name is Amanda, and I'm a travel enthusiast and film buff. I've traveled across the U.S., lived in continental Europe, studied abroad in the United Kingdom, and had some incredible vacations and life-changing adventures. Because I've spent the majority of my life in school, my point of view is that of a Millennial scholar, scientist, and humanist. But don't be fooled! My Bachelor of Science in Human Development isn't all "B.S." - the knowledge I gained in four years at an Ivy League university is combined with my school of life know-how to shape the ways in which I look at the world and, more specifically, travel.

So how do I look at travel? I think travel should be fun, interactive, and most of all, educational. And this is why:

I think it's safe to say that if travel is not fun, it's miserable. Delayed or cancelled flights, obnoxious companions, bad food, and uncomfortable lodging situations are all things that can potentially ruin a trip, and I know from personal experience.

  1. When I was 16, I spent my New Year's Eve in the air, flying from Manchester, New Hampshire to Kalamazoo, Michigan because there had been a problem with the plane's landing gear. Not exactly the way a high-schooler wants to spend the most social holiday of the year, especially if there's a chance she might die when the plane tries to land...
  2. On a different high school trip to Spain, a travel companion took advantage of the country's legal drinking age and got a lot of people (who didn't deserve it) in a lot of trouble, and is the source of the only bad memories I have of that trip.
  3. When it comes to cuisine, if the food is bad, I don't eat, and when I don't eat, I get cranky. You do the math.
  4. On a trip to Belgium alone, a man who I believe was mentally ill checked into the room across the hall from mine in my hotel. I could hear him talking to himself through the walls, and when he started to get really upset about there not being three towels in the room, I was so uncomfortable with the situation that I paid extra to switch rooms. But I was so unsettled (it was my first time traveling a foreign country completely on my own) that I spent the next two days anxious to move on to my next destination, and I didn't get as much enjoyment out of that trip as I would have liked.

When travel is not interactive, one is simply an observer. You look at things, you listen to things, but you don't take part and you don't get a whole lot out of your trip. It is in the true doing of things and discussion with people that you have experiences and create memories. Interactive travel is when you have fun (refer to #1), when you experience, and when you learn.

I have found that when travel is educational, I get the most out of it. But like I said, I'm a scholar. I love learning about a local people's history, culture and traditions - that's how I experience the most fun and personal growth. When I travel, my goal is to learn about myself, about a specific culture, and about the effects we have on each other as global citizens. And because I have the most fun when I'm interacting with that culture - listening to tour guides & asking questions, chatting up the locals, participating in their traditions and ways of living - educational travel, for me, produces the most rewards. I think when most people hear the word "educational," they think of school and its associations - boredom, rules, work. But trust me, when you actually get something out of your travel experiences, when you return home with different ideas, opinions, or a new understanding of how different and similar we all are, you won't want to go back to that passive, observant, purely touristic mindset.

I said I was a film buff, so here's a little illustration of my thoughts via the film The Accidental Tourist (based on a book of the same name by Anne Tyler). In the film, William Hurt's character writes travel guide books for businessmen, for whom constant traveling often becomes burdensome. He returns home from yet another business trip all ambivalent and as though his job is a hassle - even though there are a million people in America who would love to be travel writers. His wife is bothered by his attitude and complains:

"There's something so...what do you call it...muffled...about the way you experience things - it's as if you were trying to experience life unchanged. It's not by chance you write those silly books telling people how to make trips without a jolt, so they can travel to the most wonderful, exotic places in the world and never be touched by them, never feel they've left home. That traveling armchair isn't just your logo; it's you."

One thing she's saying is that William Hurt's character and his readers have become passive in their travels - they've lost that sense of joy that most feel when they have the opportunity to go somewhere new. In this sense the film touches on an interesting subject with the analogy of the traveling armchair with wings:

"While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put."

People who sit in their chairs at home because they don't have opportunities to travel long to go somewhere new and exciting, while people who travel all the time often long for the stability of home. Like the main character's wife, I believe that travel shouldn't be passive, that we should never lose that sense of excitement and joy when boarding a plane or meeting new people. Travel should be really experienced, and we should grow with those experiences. The point of travel is to have new experiences and to escape the monotony of a life spent in one place, untouched and unchanged.

So for my first post I leave you with this general advice: To have a great travel experience, make the most of your trip - be open to change, have fun, interact with the culture, and learn some new things about yourself and about the world - and don't take your wings for granted.

Last modified on Thursday, 01 November 2012 19:42

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