the age of virtuous travel

“The Age of Virtuous Travel” is featured in the editorial page of this month’s issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Klara Glowczewska could not have described better what I was trying to say in my previous blog about why I travel.

“We travel junkies know the feeling well. The agony of choosing between Italy and France, say, or China and India, or Bora Bora and Bali. So many places, so little time. Travel is addictive because it makes us feel alive. But travel can also do something more universally consequential: It can, if done right, help improve the lives of others.”

Klara continues on to say that the future of travel is travel that is not just as entertainment but as a purposeful means of giving back something to the world, of enacted gratitude for our brief moment of living in it. That sounds very zen to me. I hope she’s right.

I have seen only a few countries but in almost every other country I have visited, I have witnessed hard times in the poorest places. Years ago in Nepal, I visited a school of about 15 kids all probably under the age of 10 and taught by one or two teachers. They didn’t have a lot of books, and the books, to me, didn’t look substantial enough for kids their age. The school building needed repairs , needed a new roof and needed floors. It was a dusty afternoon and all the kids were playing kick and catch with an empty soda can. It is a sad sight for me, but I didn’t feel too sad, because all the kids are having a blast. They’re all genuinely happy.

Bill Drayton, social entrepreneur and founder of Ashoka, witnessed something similar.

“When I was young, I visited a family in South India. They lived in one room, with no electricity and very little to their name. I learned that physical things didn’t matter. That family was perfectly happy. When you travel, you get close to people and they are no longer statistics.”

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that many parts of the world are in need. And it doesn’t take a lot from us to help. It can be as easy as bringing baseballs, books, or pieces of paper and crayons. We CAN make the world a better place.


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