Lies to unlearn about travel

Lies to unlearn about travel

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so recently i took a trip to amsterdam  and i got the train there because i'm…..   better than you. and while i was being  plummeted under the ocean at 100,000   million miles per hour (is my impression) i got  to thinking: what have been my previous beliefs or   things i felt like i had to believe about travel  in the past? and since all the traveling i have   done and just the years i've been existing… which  ones of those beliefs weren't true? i made a list   because apparently i can't take a holiday and  i spent the whole holiday thinking about this   concept and making notes. so i guess… here you  are. some people send you postcards, some people   bring you back fridge magnets or chocolates. i  have brought you back this video. perhaps it goes   without saying but this is also the internet so  i'm gonna say it anyway: i have been incredibly   lucky to get to travel to all of the completely  random places that i've been. they’re experiences   that not everybody gets and i'm a big fan of  not pretending to be a different class bracket   or have a different life experience but to sit  with your own experiences and try and put them   in the context of everybody elses. unpicking the  things that you've been taught and rebuilding an  

approximation of what might be your own beliefs  is an incredibly taxing and long process but also,   i think, a fun one. and is one of the themes -  i would say - if there is some kind of theme to   this channel. so if you like the sound of being  more shrewd and spirited about your life and the   world around you please do subscribe because  i've been doing this for like 13 years now   and the thought farts are just… they just keep  coming. so if you want to sit in the fart cloud   of this brain that's the button you need to hit.

the first lie: travel is good for you. in british  culture, especially aspirational british culture,   there is a tradition of taking a year out before  you go to uni and going traveling to ‘find   yourself’. it's ‘eat, pray, love’ but instead of  divorcing a man we're divorcing education. and   also with less money and less wearwithall to  be honest. i'm thankful that i kind of didn't   grow up on the internet that much. but in my early  20s i was inundated with a lot of influencers who   talked about living a free life. traveling the  world, becoming a whole person in the process,   and really scratching off that scratch and sniff  map. that big wanderlust wish list of all the  

places you want to go. now the more i've thought  about this piece of merch, this scratch off map   (if you've ever seen them), as i've got older  i've started to see that thing as just another   thing to fail at. another to-do list. another  list of frankly unattainable things for most   people and also potentially arbitrary wishes. when  we think intentionally about human relationships   like friendships or romantic stuff we know that  trying to have friendships with everybody results   in diluting your time and having friendships  with no one. and in the same way i wonder about   ticking every single continent off an arbitrary  list is not only disingenuous because it's not   really possible to really genuinely desire to  visit every single country on god's green earth,   but also slightly colonialist? like a kind of  ‘catch em all’, *i'm going to discover the world*   bad ‘wild thornberries’ movie vibe? does nobody  else get that now in retrospect? there’s a hobo   johnson song called ‘i want to see the world’,  and it's kind of him slowly descending from: i   want to see everything, i want to like experience  everything, i want to eat everything. to being  

like: well if i really did want to see everything  then i’d also have to see all the bad sides of   things and… oh god, do i even want to see that?  and is it okay for me to go on holiday to see   that? and the last lines are: ‘i want to see the  world before i die, before my heart stops beating   or i rip out my eyes. i want to see the world, or  maybe i don't. maybe i'm extremely ignorant and   maybe i just won't.’ i also think this belief that  travel is automatically good for you intersects   with the aesthetics of the pictures that you bring  back. it used to be those little slide shows. tiny   little negatives that you slip in and then project  onto your living room wall. and now i guess it's  

instagram. there is an aspect of this, and i've  definitely been guilty of it, of being a tourist   somewhere and using the place that you're going as  simply just a backdrop. you are the main character   of this experience, this is your show and this is  merely just an off location episode with your same   favorite leads. it's one of the reasons i've been  to amsterdam twice now and have never gone into   the anne frank museum, not because i don't want  to see it or learn about it, but i know there are   other ways of learning about it and i don't know  if i want to share the space with all the people   i see outside taking peace sign selfies with it.  i've learned less from the gap year hippies that  

seem to have been everywhere that i met in like  hostels and stuff but didn't really seem to know   all that much.. and more from the people that i've  met that have actually lived in these countries   for months or even years, know the language and  have really made the effort to integrate a little   bit or are even from those places. i have had  people live in my family home when i was growing   up from other countries and i've learned way  more than that, even though i've never been to   some of the countries that they've been from.  again, it's something that we can only really   internally inspect about ourselves but i do wonder  when we look at what our desires are when it comes   to travel, how much of that is self-generated  by genuine research and curiosity and more to   do with the desire to how we see ourselves. like…  not wanting to regret anything when we get to our   death bed or wanting to cram like a huge amount  of life experiences into a small amount of time   before we decide to settle down or have kids,  even though those things don't stop you from doing   that, but you know what i mean. all of that is  compounded into a kind of irony when i think   about some of the most famous road trip or travel  books: they all end in disaster. no? people die  

or get eaten and that's not to say that genuine  curiosity and on location learning isn't valuable   or important, but it's the internal motivation i  think that is slightly misguided when we think:   yes, traveling is always a positive. you should  do it. in ‘the responsible traveler’ by karen   edwards, which i found in a bookshop in amsterdam  while thinking about it, she talks about this idea   of culture as a commodity. ‘in some places,  rather than allowing a culture to flourish,   diversify and develop. under its own steam it is  often treated as a commodity as though it's an   item that can be freely bought or sold. it's up to  us to find and draw the line between embracing and   enjoying cultures we come across and expecting to  be entertained. i find the kind of conversational  

patterns after somebody goes on a trip really  interesting as well. somebody will often ask like:   was thailand good? and they'll review it like  it was something for them to consume. like:   the food was bad, but the people were nice. or  like.. really general things that i think we could   probably say about any country. and it's a  weird thing when what you're really asking is:  

how was your holiday? what did you do? did  you enjoy the things that you did? what did   you learn? but instead we push it into a  like… brazil: up thumbs or down thumbs? the second lie, the inverse: travel is bad for  you. there are a lot of nerves around experiencing   and existing in a culture that you're not as  familiar with. and i know that because there's   a huge tourism industry built around making  people feel like they're in another country,   when actually they're still in their own  culture.. just in a building that happens   to be in a different place. however, i don't  think the kind of holier than thou side eye  

to people who travel a lot is okay either. and we  also have to recognize that some people might be   resentful to some people who can travel a lot  and internalize that because it's not always   affordable for everybody. it's not possible for  most. staying still on this spinning ball that's   hurtling through space is frankly a completely  unrealistic expectation to put on anyone and that   kind of thought process also bleeds, i think, into  a little bit of the anti-refugee mindset that's   permeating the uk right now. the whole like:  well they're over there, why should they come   over here? we stay over here (most of the time).  i don't think an island mentality is what we're   aiming for and if it takes people leaving the  country that they were first born in to explore   and see that… that's amazing. the world is very  very cool and the fact that a lot of people are  

kept from it is such a shame. a borderline  tragedy, i think. whether that's because of   access issues or they don't feel confident enough  to operate outside of the country they were born   in. or because of their identity they don't feel  welcome in other countries. all of that… full-on   tragedy. i was reading damon dominique's book  ‘you are a global citizen’ and i think he makes  

some really good points, one of them being that  travel makes nationality malleable. we start to   see our identities as liquid and that's exactly  what gatekeepers and horrid governments don't want   us to do. the way they control us is to make sure  that we see our nationality as the first thing,   to clutch that to our chests. and i think when you  leave your own culture and your own country you're   reminded which parts of yourself probably aren't  inherently you. they're just like the products of   the environment that you grew up in. which parts  of you are constructed? it really felt to me when  

i've gone to other countries.. one: it's made  me feel more capable and more stable in myself   because i know i can operate without being able  to predict all the variables in a situation or   have everything packed for every eventuality,  but it's also had a bit of a ‘truman show’   effect on the way i see myself. i get to find  the outsides of myself and push on them a bit,   realize that there are doors. there's this kind  of saying that you become like the five people you   spend the most time with. and damon, in his book,  kind of pushes on that a little bit and is like:   i kind of feel like it's more like sometimes  also the five people that you have random   chance interactions with, especially when you're  traveling, who say a throwaway thing or show you   a certain perspective or place that you hadn't  thought existed before and those things have   long-term effects on you. i had the chance with  some friends while i was traveling in the US  

to spend an evening with this really lovely old  couple who were retired lecturers and had spent   the 70s and 80s building their own bungalow  from scratch that was completely off grid and   they talked about why that mattered to them,  how they did it with barely any money and how   it felt to have people around you feel like  you were doing something a little bit batty   but also all the surprising amazing things about  it. and i remember having that conversation with   them and being like ‘wow’. big turning point in my  life. probably will never see them again. but the   impact of that travel experience and meeting those  people that i wouldn't have otherwise is like… so i think there's two mindsets: travel is bad,  stay where you are. and travel is always amazing,   no matter the circumstances. you  don't need to put any thought into it,   just get out there. both of those  turned out to be very much not true.

the next lie is: flying is morally wrong. I..  this.. naively was going to be one point in   this video. and when i started looking into it  more and i started thinking more about it and   i started researching i was like: oh, this  seems to be a whole field of research. who  

knew? so i have banked some of that research.  maybe for another video at another point,   but to try and boil down some stuff that  might fit in this video and my thoughts on   it. to fly or not to fly? that is the question. or  that's the question people think is happening. i   actually think this debate really encapsulates  perfectly the false dichotomy between personal   individual action and business government  action. the answer, of course, in the middle   being collective action. the problems with  individual action range from how we might be   isolated in our own social groups and think that  taking one flight a year or two flights a year   is what everybody's doing, when in fact while  we might be isolated in our own social groups   and taking one flight every two years or maybe  one flight a year is what everybody is doing,   we don't realize that actually more than half  of the international flights leaving my country,   england, are being made by 10 percent of people.  either people who are frequently traveling for  

fun or people who are doing business trips.  so when i listen to the people who are flight   free and are genuinely missing out on seeing their  parents for years on end because of their flight   guilt that breaks my heart because over here  we've got people making genuinely unnecessary   trips.. and over here we've got people literally  setting their lives on fire for what in the grand   scale of things will be probably quite negligible  emissions. not insignificant, still important,  

but in the grand scale of things.. negligible.  especially considering the existence of ghost   flights. did you know what those are? 18,000  flights were made in 2019, i think. empty flights.   because airports are allowed to implement ‘use it  or lose it’ policies when it comes to your flight   slots just to secure their takeoff and landing  rights. and that's where the collective action  

comes in, people. imagine how many people could  have actually had meaningful life experiences or   seen their long-lost family but instead we’re  just flying empty metal tubes through the air   at the expense of everyone. there are a lot  of figures flying about but i generally trust   greenpeace’s ones and they say that it's estimated  that around 100,000 ghost flights are gonna fly   over the continent or did fly over the continent  last winter. what do we do with that? drink. no,   it's not duty free if you're not in the airport.  now you have seen my videos before about personal   responsibility and ethical consumption under  capitalism and i… have a nuanced but i feel   quite strong view on it. i do think we still have  responsibility and i also don't really believe in  

carbon offsets for flying. not only because it's  very sketchy as to whether they work or not and   how they're accredited, but also because i feel  like with any kind of fine you're basically just   saying it's free for the rich. that whole saying  of like: if a crime is only punishable by a fine   then it's not a real law… it's only illegal if  you are poor. so while i don't think condemning   individuals for taking very few and very  meaningful flights for themselves is okay i do   think that we need to start having a talk because  here is the related and interlinked next lie. ‘traveling’ and ‘holiday’ are interchangeable  words. in my notes.. note taking leena from   earlier has said this phrase which is making  me chuckle: we need to stop flying to other   countries to take a nap. and i know what i meant  by that. i mean that sometimes because workers  

rights are so absolutely wacky s**t we only  have a certain amount of days or weeks a year   to take off to go anywhere and i know that in  other countries it's even worse so we try and   cram relaxing into a small fast amount of time,  which is an oxymoron when you step back and think   about it but has become very culturally normal  to do. you're really tired, you've had a really   exhausting year at work, you're finally going  on your big summer holiday which, p.s. is really   stressful to like drive to the airports sort all  that out. nothing is more stressful than flying.   and then you get to the hotel, you either stay on  a sun lounger and sleep or you go to the bar and   you get really drunk so you can't actually really  absorb any new experiences. and i have done this,   i've been on a brits abroad, thompson, girly drunk  holiday. i've… i've done the thing. i can't say   that i haven't done the thing. but i do think  that retrospectively i accepted that as normal  

and i agreed to do it because of that belief:  that it would be good for me because i'd be   traveling. and i think because we're probably  all so exhausted and we really feel like we need   time off we think that maybe getting on a flight  and going somewhere with a different background,   somewhere visually different that is a little bit  hotter is going to give us the aesthetics of rest   that will convince us that we are well rested,  rather than what we might actually need but   isn't a cool brag and won't have any nice pictures  attached and people might treat you a bit weirdly,   but what we might actually need is just to stay at  home for a week and have a nap. unplug the phone,   order in pizzas, watch all your favorite films.  instead we're paying thousands of pounds and  

damaging the environment to frankly get sunstroke  and have a very long nap with our eyes closed.   and i can't blame anyone for that because who  doesn't want an easy way to be able to log onto   the internet and buy respite. but unfortunately  as i get older i realize that respite is more of   a nuanced ingredient, recipe thing that's tailored  to each person and what you're going through   that year and what you might need, rather than  something that you can just go onto,  

select something from a drop down menu and buy a  week's worth of recovery from capitalism only just   to be plummeted back into it as soon as you get  back. and i don't say this to be angry at anybody,   i actually kind of find it in a horrible dark way  quite funny because i also used to feel like that.   but when you step back from that kind of behavior  you're like: i think i just needed a nap and maybe   a nice swim and potentially some vitamin d tablets  and also maybe a light box. p.s. i also think it's   really interesting that airbnb are having to  re-rebrand themselves after launching as a   place that was for travel.. and when i say travel  i mean people genuinely traveling with the energy  

and the spoons and the components in their brain  to be able to absorb another culture, reverently   and respectfully ask the questions, get to know  people, integrate a little bit. it was launched   as a platform that did that. you were supposed  to be being welcomed into other people's homes   and avoiding the tourist traps to migrating  into a holiday website where people are just   using them to go on holiday, which is also  not necessarily inherently a problem but   funny that they've now had to re-release  these ads. i don't know if you noticed?   rebranding a corner of airbnb to try and  get people to do that again, even though   they're keeping the money from the other thing  because that's fine. airbnb video essay, anyone? next lie: you need to travel to be an expansive  person. always be wary of somebody who lists   off in a boastful way all the places they've  been. anecdotes are great. whole stories about  

one experience: very very interesting. somebody  who lists off the places that they've been like   a resume or a cv like they're telling you about  the celebrities that they've met or the students   that they've collected that they invite in a very  weird way to their office after hours for a meal.   i don't like it. oh, here's another wise note from  past sarky leena: physical travel is no longer   the only preventer against all around ignorance,  nor can it guarantee its absence. and i think as   well that's the point that i maybe think that this  was very different when things like lonely planet   were being launched in the 70s and 80s. i do think  that the internet offers us a great opportunity as   well as a great danger of being exposed to lots  of different things and it means that going to   another place isn't always necessary to at least  learn the basics of what other people are going   through and instead of being a voyeuristic kind  of voice that is just like there to look and maybe   not to help, the internet is an amazing place for  learning about stuff from qualified sources and   real genuine people who are experiencing things  in other cultures and countries without having to   physically move. which again is great for access  needs as well as just like carbon footprint  

issues. i've met people who haven't really  traveled to that many places at all but have been   teaching english to people who have come to this  country or they've been volunteering with refugees   and hearing about what it's like in other parts  of the world. and they strike me as people with   much more wanderlust than josh who you meet in the  seattle hostel who's wearing about five different   necklaces and wants to boast to you about all the  different, crazy things that he's seen in other   places in all the different bars he's got drunk in  across the world. in fact the term ‘wanderlust’ as   well got me thinking because i think we focus  a lot on the ‘wander’ part and not very much   on the ‘lust’ part. because maybe that's exactly  what it is when we say we've got ‘wanderlust’...  

sometimes it's love, sometimes it's genuine  passion and interest for a different culture   or language or scenery to our own and sometimes  it's just lust. sometimes it's just like a: oh,   that picture looks sexy. i want a picture with  that monument. And lust is an okay thing to feel,   but let's call it what it is. and i also think  there's a lot of travel content and films that   promote this idea of leaving where you are and  going somewhere else and often simply trying to   opt out of society rather than change it, which  again… doesn't always go well for people. often  

you go somewhere else and there you are.  you're still there in your brain. again,   speaking from experience. i can guarantee,  especially if you live in the uk, there are a   large amount of people living in your hometown or  near your hometown right now who have come from a   very very long way away. and if you want to become  an expansive person go and talk to them. maybe   even learn their language. read books from people  who are from those countries. i wish good finances   and expendable income on everybody, but  in the absence of that or in the absence   of being able to travel for whatever reason, it  doesn't make you a less expansive person. just   because your physical body has been existing  in a very similar postcode for a while. see  

video about romanticizing london and capital  cities versus moving back to your hometown. and lastly, and this is one that i have  been guilty of in the past, if you haven't   bought souvenirs you won't remember you went. i  haven't forgotten anywhere that i've been. and   if i have forgotten or i've forgotten details..  physical objects never help me to remember… ever.   pictures do, but the amount of like fast fashion,  fast retail like… plastic objects that you are   offered as a tourist is like absolutely wild and  i'd be lying that i didn't give in to it a lot in   my early 20s. now, knowing what i know, i know  that sometimes a photo is enough genuinely and   if i really want a physical object of it i can  go home and print it out. but also i try and buy   stuff that i would be buying anyway, something  that i might need. so for instance in amsterdam  

i bought this amazing fabric because i wanted  to re-cover the cushion covers in my home and   now i'm going to have this nice souvenir that will  remind me of that. maybe you need a new mug or a   new dish scrubber or a new tea towel and you write  that list of things down that you'd probably buy   in your own country anyway and take it with you on  your travels. that sounds pretty cool. or, another   thing i now do is i just have like a category  of thing that i get. mine is fridge magnets. i   usually get a fridge magnet from everywhere i go.  it's small, it's simple. they're widely available   and it means that once i've got that i'm like:  souvenirs? done. don't need to… that's enough now.   in conclusion: there is a balance between calling  genuine and valuable cultural exchange a waste of   carbon and saying you're selling people tourism  and experiences when actually you’re just moving   them to a slightly different shopping center or  more. i don't know where that balance is but we  

do need to find it. let's do that together somehow  please. we need to validate rest without location   change. it's clear that some people just need  to rest and they shouldn't feel like they have   to fly somewhere else to be left alone. no one  on the outside can know your travel intentions,   only you know what your genuine intentions are  and whether they're good or not so good. and  

within that we do need to be aware of the colonial  undertones of our adventures and how that plays   out. and again, only you can know your heart or  what's going on up here. but i genuinely think   it's something that a lot of us need to think  about. and lastly, what i see in the future is   an end.. not to travel all together… but to casual  travel. i am no longer traveling thoughtlessly,  

especially when it's outside of my own country.  i'm doing it slowly, intentionally and less often.   the more and more i tackle and think about and  pick at and naw on the problems with the climate   crisis i think that one of them is that we are  not letting ourselves imagine a better future and   try and live in it now. and for me a better  future does include a little bit of travel,   but not the casual travel where people are  going on a million business trips or going   on lots of short haul flights everywhere all the  time and it's only accessible for a small amount   of people and everyone else has just left a piss  in the wind and sit still on their little hunk of   ground. but enough about me and the temporary  beliefs that are swilling around my brain,   it is now your go. i would love to hear what you  think about this topic below or even just tell  

me some cool places that you've been that you're  genuinely connected to and have changed you. or   perhaps you want to tell me a lie? something that  you believed about travel that you're now like:   doh! this video was made possible by the gumption  club. you might have seen some clips in this video   of us meeting up in amsterdam. this is some of  them. these are some of the dutch ones. i love   them. they were amazing. it's a really cosy,  lovely positive gumption-filled community and  

if you do become a patron you can join a secret  facebook group where we talk literally every day   about the complicated spinning planet we  live on. if you like this video i reckon   you might like one of these videos. thank  you so much for watching. frog snog out.

2023-07-11 22:05

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