While many places around the world have become homogenized, every place around the world is its own place. Behind the department stores, chain restaurants and globalized brands are unique places, unique experiences and people who while shopping at the same stores you shop at, eating the same food you eat … but half way around the world … are culturally different than you are.
Every once in a while there is some travel story about the worst global travelers, or most obnoxious travelers, but the fact is every country around the world has people who belong on this list. It is OK to always remember where you are from, and draw on your experiences and your culture as you venture out around the planet, but when you set foot in a new city, a new small town, a new country, remember that you are a visitor.
Yesterday morning as my flight pushed back from Incheon International Airport’s Gate 19, on board Korean Airlines Flight 865 to Guangzhou, taxing to the runway, a person behind us, with a familiar accent commented, “That’s [a lot] of foreign tails. Nothing American at this airport.” I am not sure why this person was surprised to see “foreign tails” and “nothing American” at the airport, we we’re of course in South Korea, on board a Korean airliner, flying to China.
This is not an unfamiliar sentiment, and one we’ve heard from people from many nationalities around the world … however … every time I hear it, it is a confusing sentiment.
Why venture out into the world if you want every place to be the same as home? Home is comforting, home is where you feel safe, and while you should be comfortable and feel safe traveling the globe, even at a blistering such as the #SkyTeamRTW journey, you need to embrace where you are.
If you wanted Seoul to be like Chicago, why leave Chicago? If you wanted Manama to be like Munich, why leave Munich? What is the point of visiting Paris if you expect the people there to speaking your language … unless of course you are a native French speaker?
The world is an exciting place. Go out, be part of the world, even for just a moment. Become connected to those around you, even if you are divided by language and culture, because ultimately if you have boarded a flight to a foreign land you have two choices, embrace it or reject it … and if you reject it, you are missing so much that can enrich your