Ignorant travellers

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We’re constantly urged to travel in order to become “more worldly.”

It’s a thing — especially if you’re in the self-discovery stage of life, which I consider to be in your 20s.

It’s hard not to stumble upon a travel-themed post during the hourly Instagram or Facebook scroll. Wanderlust induced quotes like “he who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left” are rampant.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big travel advocate, but I have a little tiff with the way some choose to go about it.

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time abroad in China, Japan and Thailand. During this time, I noticed a trend: I just couldn’t get past the hoards of entitled Gen-Y “self-seekers.”

I think it’s great that young people are daring enough to broaden their experiences by travelling. However, I can’t help but cringe at their culturally insensitive behaviour.

Certain pockets in Asia are hotspots for global north tourists — Shanghai, Bangkok, Ko Phi Phi and the like. While plenty of visitors respect the people, places and cultures they come across, a handful come up short.

Those few approach their travels with rose-coloured glasses on.

How can you go to China and not know about the Cultural Revolution or the corrupt Communist Party? Or take a trip to Bangkok and ignore sex-trade workers right in front of you?

It’s difficult to fathom, but it happens.

Some travel enthusiasts venture blindly and blissfully into lands ridden with complex politics and don’t even considering their role in it all.

Ignorance truly is bliss.

While becoming “cultured,” some travellers forget to stop and think about why it is that the food and trinket souvenirs are so cheap in certain locales. Instead, they continue to consume local crafts, which represent their “worldliness” to friends back home.

This sort of ignorant travelling is frustrating, beause it can dehumanize the local population and dismiss their histories and cultures.

While abroad, it’s important to think critically about your surroundings. Question everything.

Only then will you have really, truly travelled.

Kate is the Assistant Arts Editor at the Journal. She’s a fourth-year political studies major.

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