Going out of my comfort zone. Trying new food. Falling in love with new cities and people. Making new friends. Experiencing new cultures. These are just some of the many reasons I absolutely love to travel. I feel I could write a novel about my love for travel, but there is one aspect of travel that has always stood out, and often surprised me.
I love how travel is constantly breaking and going beyond stereotypes. As much as I love to think I was born in a more progressive society, stereotypes shape the way we live our lives and think about the world. However, I have found that travel constantly pushes people to face the stereotypes they make, and change their view of the world. These are just a few ways travel has changed the stereotypes that shape our lives.
Women can travel too
I have wanted to travel as long as I can remember, but I’ve realized that not everyone has always been on board with my travel ideas. My parents and family have constantly reminded me that “it’s not the same travelling as a woman,” or “it’s not safe to go there as a woman.” However, according to The Gutsy Traveler, “75% of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women.” So women are traveling, are having incredible experiences, and are coming home in one piece. As time has gone on, I have found that my family has become more accepting, and realizes, as a woman, I can travel just about anywhere.
You won’t die if you travel alone
My family was already nervous about my travels as a woman, so when I told them I was going to travel alone, they just about lost it. Friends and acquaintances often think people that travel alone are a little weird, have no friends, or want to die abroad. However, to everyone’s surprise, I travelled alone and did not die! In fact, according to Yahoo, “72% of American women are enthusiastic about solo travel and have travelled on their own for work or vacation.” By travelling alone, you are not only experiencing an amazing travel experience, but changing the stereotypes of what solo traveling means.
Most people and places are not what you think they are
As much as we try to live our lives as open and unbiased as possible, we can’t help but have created at least some stereotypes throughout our lives. I always try be open minded in everything I do, but I am not going to lie. Before going to China I had some preconceptions of what the country and its people would be like. I thought maybe no one in China would like Americans, and that the country was somewhat oppressed. Of course, after my trip, I completely changed my view. I learned more than I ever could have imagined. China is full of beautiful and kind people, and the country’s communist stereotypes were completely broken. In fact, I would argue China is progressive and free. (However, I did use a VPN to get around internet restrictions, which I would highly recommend when travelling in China.)
There are kind people everywhere
Some countries are labeled as being unsafe or unfriendly; however, I have found that regardless of where you go in the world, everyone is human, and everywhere you can find kind people. There are of course plenty of not so kind people, but I am continually amazed by the amount of helpful, genuine, and kind people that exist in the world.
Before traveling to Peru, I had continually heard about scams and safety problems with taxi drivers in Lima. These stories began to make me nervous (and unfortunately a little untrusting). What I found was quite the opposite. Some of the kindest people I met in Peru were taxi drivers. One man accidentally took a wrong turn, and even offered to lower the cost of the taxi ride. I was shocked! I’m used to taxi drivers intentionally taking wrong turns to keep the meter going, so for someone to offer a refund was quite astounding. Of course, bad things do happen, and it is important to not let your guard down too much. However, I find the majority of the time I am amazed by people’s kindness, and my stereotypes are more often wrong than right.
You, yourself, can break stereotypes
When travelling, you are of course, learning constantly, and breaking the misconceptions that you have in your head. But, more often than not, I find that I often break stereotypes people have of me as a young American woman. I have had people immediately be rude to me when they find out I’m American, had someone seriously ask me if my friends are all fat, and even overheard someone say that all Americans only care about money. As a traveler, you are also breaking the misconceptions people may have had of you. I’ve made incredible friends abroad, and have shown them by simply acting as myself that I am not a stereotype, and do not fit into one single category. Learning that we are all wrong about each other may be the most beautiful thing about travelling.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness –Mark Twain
I’m never in one place for very long. My parents were travelers before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!