When I was traveling with various types of groups of people or should I call them fellow tourists in Spain, I tend to see a lot of them just sit around and not do much. The only exception is when I’m going on an activity-based trip like scuba diving where everyone signed up for the trip to go diving. But when it was just traveling to see different places, tourist sights, landmarks, etc. that gets real old, too quick, and in a hurry. The worst is when these people go see something like some famous castle or mountain or landscape and then go back to their hotel room and STAY there for the entire duration with the exception of maybe going out for food. That’s what I found out about some of the people were doing after a tourist trip. They didn’t do much afterwards. They just stayed in their hotel rooms bored out of their minds!!!
I do wonder about these peoples’ sanity and how they are able to do it. It’s one thing to do it at home because they’re tired from school or work but to also do it while traveling and on vacation? Wow – just amazing. One of the greatest things about traveling is to go out and do things that you wouldn’t do or go and meet people that you have no idea who you’re going to meet.
That’s why I advocate going out when in a foreign country; go and do something to meet people. For example, when I tried to go find scuba diving in Chile, I found it somehow by asking around (in Spanish since no one spoke English) and met some great guys who were interested in providing the service as well. Sure, they didn’t speak English at all but I spoke decent enough Spanish to find out more about them and for them to find out more about me. It’s all about local interaction and that starts with the traveler to initiate it. I never liked the fact that tourists always went to the big, fancy hotels and/or stayed in “tourist zones” where the money rarely, ever trickled down to the local people who need the money more. I call it sharing the wealth but many tourists don’t do this, as they stay in their rooms twiddling their thumbs all day, go shopping in tourist shops, or whatever the hell they do. I guess drinking is a popular thing to do in their rented-out, foreign prison rooms of privacy or going out to the bars and clubs. The only issue with drinking is often times I see fellow travelers of the same linguistic background get together and never go out of their way to meet others of a different culture, namely of the locals of that country. But I guess it does help the local economy if these travelers are doing in locally owned bars.
So the best thing to do that travelers can do for the locals is to patronize their businesses and/or give them more business (aka customers) which is why I never advocate giving aid to people but rather give them a job to give someone an identity. That is the way to help someone as it gives them stability, direction, something to look forward to in life on a daily basis rather than get a one-time happiness jolt from cash aid or donation. You’ll also find out that most people who get that donation will just spend all the money and just go back to what they were doing previously. Someone who has a job is probably more likely to be better citizens as they now have a stake in the community and society’s well-being.
All the more reason for people to get out of their comfort zones a la hotel rooms and go out and find something new. Get out with the locals. See and do what they do because despite the world getting smaller and smaller with technology, it only appears that people stay away from each other farther and farther. Case in point: people used to meet face-to-face during a conference or meeting and now, we have tele-conferencing, texting, and social media; we can’t get any kind of positive group dynamic working relationships with each other since 99% of communication is un-verbal. The same deal with online dating – how you can know if you’re really going to click with one another unless you’re within striking distance to know when a lightning bolt hits two people together. I guess most people don’t unless OR until someone makes a move to break the ice. It’s kind of sad actually.
That’s why people must take that step to go out and re-kindle that human spark. That’s what I did during my time in Spain which was go out and speak as much Spanish as I could out there. Often times the local people would be amazed that someone like me was speaking their language despite some differences in the usage of words and accents. I remembered getting a free dessert once for my language efforts from one restaurant owner – I can say with honesty, I’m never bored with free food! I was happy as well as my stomach was!