In recent introspection I took to a map to take inventory of the interesting places I've been and seen. I was impressed; I didn't think I had travelled as much as I did. But, at the same time, I also became much more aware of how much world there is that I've yet to discover.
Years ago, I wrote a post of the places I would love to see. It included anywhere in Africa, California, Cairo, NYC, Florida, Greece, and any island in the sun. I can say I've definitely crossed California off my list, as well as Cairo and NYC, but I'm nowhere near done. There is so much world to see and so many cultures to experience, and I want to see it all. (It's too bad I picked a career in writing, then).
Whether it's overseas or in your own backyard, I've discovered that there are 3 main ways to explore a new space:
Like a tourist. Every space has its must-see spots; the pyramids of Giza, the Hollywood sign, Times Square, Niagara Falls. Travelling like a tourist is travelling to see what everyone else has seen and capturing what everyone else has captured, no matter how beautiful it may be.
Like a visitor. Going to visit people in a space you've never explored before usually entails them showing you the best that their city has to offer, which sometimes boils down to big chain restaurants and giant landmarks. As a visitor, you get to see the filtered and classy version of the place you're visiting.
Like a local. Get on the train. Eat from a hole-in-the-wall. Talk to the locals. share a meal ora drink with a stranger. Get to know the grocer. Walk down the alleys. It's in these moments that you discover the true culture of a place.
Since I enjoy photography I tend to come off as the tourist, but my favourite way to travel is like a local. Beyond exploring like a local, I enjoy experiencing a space through the eyes of the locals of lower socioeconomic class. It's the ones with less money and a lower social status that are a depiction of a country's essence because they've yet to be changed by media influence and globalization - they don't use affluence to try to live the lives of the wealthy, or the lives of those in more desirable countries.
To travel and experience the culture and people of a particular place always reminds me of how large a world we live in but how similar we all are. Every story I hear from every stranger I chat with resonates with me on some level, reminding me that, no matter how scattered we are across the globe, we're not that much different. To travel is to enrich your life experience, because every trip and every conversation affects and changes the way you see the world - for the better.
As I write this, adventure awaits me. My suitcase is partially packed and my flight departs tomorrow. To find out where I'm headed - and to see it from my perspective - follow my adventures on Instagram.