(Updated: January 14, 2021 – As I read through this post, it is more relevant today than ever before).
Several years ago I was told I “wasn’t really a travel writer” because I didn’t travel internationally. This conversation, which occurred over email, stuck in my craw.
Dictionary.com defines travel as, “to go from one place to another, as by car, train, plane, or ship: take a trip; journey: to travel for pleasure.”
This definition does not include, “must have a passport with at least 3 stamps.”
I believe it was the advent of the “travel blogger” that changed people’s perspective on “traveling” and “travel writing” to something that must be done abroad. However, because I don’t trot the globe doesn’t mean I’m not a traveler, and this goes for you too.
This leads me to the heart of my discussion. One does not have to visit South America or Paris, France to experience the transforming power of travel.
Travel bloggers love posting the following quote by Mark Twain:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
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When travel bloggers refer to this quote, I believe most are inferring that the type of travel necessary to gain this level of enlightenment requires boarding a plane with a backpack stuffed with charcoal pills and wanderlust.
That kind of travel is all good and dandy for the young who do not yet have the entanglements of adult responsibilities, but for the rest of us, that sort of travel isn’t realistic.
I’m forty. I have a house, dog and husband. Gallivanting the world whilst blogging about exotic foods and Instagramming my daily coffee drink in various cafes, just isn’t an option.
Does this mean that I am destined to prejudices, bigotry and narrow-mindedness? Absolutely not, because the benefits of the travel described by Twain do not have to come from the kind that requires a passport, hostel stays, and the eating of balut.
I have found that every corner of Colorado has a unique culture and its own sense of pride in place. While at first glance these towns may seem the same, when you scratch through the superficial surface, venture past the Walmart at the edge of town and talk to the natives at a local pub, you’ll find that each Colorado town is different.
Whether it’s work-a-day towns in Southeast Colorado or high-end resort destinations like Aspen, traveling to these places can be fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
For instance, talking with farmers at a diner in Eastern Colorado may not only give you a new outlook on water rights, but you may find out why a certain group of individuals voted for “the other candidate” in the latest election.
You may bond over a love of dogs with perfect strangers at a brewery in Aspen. Or perhaps you’ll watch a three-hour football game rooting loudly with people whose path you wouldn’t have normally crossed. And it’s not just locals that you’ll meet during Colorado travels. You may even find yourself conversing with international visitors in a hot springs pool or on the gondola at a ski resort.
My favorite part of traveling is talking to people, and this activity can be fatal to prejudices, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. We need more authentic face-to-face conversations in this divisive world.
It may not be as sexy as traveling to Southeast Asia or Berlin, but traveling one’s own state can be an eye-opening, and indeed a prejudice smashing, experience.