Once upon a time, traveling was something yearned for and desired. People had a strong passion and desire to explore the world, to meet new people, and to engulf themselves in new cultures. A successful trip encompassed daytime waterfall hikes, swimming with dolphins, and beautiful conversations on hostel rooftops with bright new friends from all corners of the world.
This bright spark that fueled people to hit the road and find themselves through unique experiences and worldly travels has been dimmed over the last 15 years or so. No longer do people wish farewell with a “Bon Voyage” but rather a “Safe Travels.” I enjoy travelling to parts of the middle East, and recently visited Eastern Europe. Rather than my friends wishing me a great trip, they counter with “Josh, are you sure this is a good idea?” There’s been a vast change in Western views of the rest of the world due to the increase in fear poured over our airwaves and news sources.
The world is no more dangerous or threatening than it was in the 1990s. Rather, world events are more heavily publicized and magnified. I’m sure you’ve noticed the shift in stories reported on your nightly news; The Middle Eastern ‘Crisis’, the Ebola ‘Crisis’, the Syrian ‘Crisis’. It’s no surprise that people feel travelling involves dodging ISIS beheadings and wearing mouth protectors to avoid air-born diseases. And then you mix all these stories with the negativity scorched upon our political television ads and debates, and the world certain appears to be a hateful and terrifying place.
‘Your world’ is what you make of it. There are seven billion people in the world, and your neighborhood is just a dust particle. The amount of learning and idea generation that we miss out on by staying in the confines of our secure nest, rather than opening our wings and exploring new corners, is magnificent. There are countless stories of successful entrepreneurs who were completely lost, then hit the road, and discovered an idea that fueled their passion and grew into a fantastic business. It’s not by chance either. Sometimes, it requires stepping back, and breaking out of our confines to understand where there are needs, and problems to tackle. When you get into a routine, and are seeing the same places and people day after day, you get comfortable, and getting comfortable kills your creativity. Travelling, on the other hand, launches you out of your comfort zone, and causes you to think creatively, and explore new ideas.
To put it into perspective, the United States makes up less than 5% of the entire world’s population. So even if you traveled around the US and met everybody, you’d still be missing out on understanding the lives of 95% of humans. It’s almost frightening to think about the boundless potential of growth and development through travel, because you may never want to stop. As Jack Kerouac perfectly depicts life,“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”
A major part of our creative development is filling these empty pages with our own depictions of the world around us. It’s not fair to fill out this ’empty page’ with thoughts and ideas of the world based on what we see on television. A few years back, I was in Israel, and received a call from home asking if everything was OK and if I was safe with ‘everything going on there right now.’ My response was “what’s going on?” I had no idea there was any fighting around me, but the news in the United States made it look like I was in the middle of a war zone. The news shows stories that will catch people’s attention, and most often are a far stretch from reality.
It’s time to revamp our mindsets of the world around us, and block out most of the bad news and ‘crisis’ stories. It’s time to hit the road and meet new people, see new places, and encounter new lifestyles. Find a plane ticket, or a nearby town you haven’t visited, and don’t return home until you’ve discovered a fabulous new friend, a new idea to work on, or a problem to solve. Bon Voyage, friends, and I hope to share ideas with you on a foreign trail down the road, as we fill in that ‘glowing empty page.’
Josh Ludin is an eCommerce entrepreneur who tries to motivate young graduates to start online businesses and pursue dreams early. He runs a monthly subscription box and a website featuring cool things to buy online. You can follow him on Twitter at @NeverJobHunt