Brice and I recently had a discussion over dinner about our travel style. As Brice put it, we take with us a little “American bubble” – upgrading from the most basic accommodations or modes of transport so we can travel safely, healthily and, I would be lying if I didn’t admit, comfortably.
But that prompted the philosophical question, at what point is that travel bubble too large so that you aren’t experiencing the culture or understanding the area in which you’re traveling?
This has come up a few times for me during our travels, especially now in India, where we have opted to stay at nicer hotels. Once inside these beautiful, first-world standard hotels, you feel away from the chaos but also could easily forget you’re in India. Is it defeating the point of touring such a country? I’m certainly not here to just see how similar the inside of Marriott Delhi is to the Marriott Seattle, for instance. That being said, these hotels have been a blessing when we’ve had a stressful day exploring (and obviously the perks like a cozy bathrobe are totally lovely!).
But that would we gain if we stayed somewhere more local or less familiar? If we opted for the lowest class on the train, crammed with no air and loads of people for 4 hours, instead of opting for the second-class cabin? Would we learn more about the country, or even ourselves?
I struggle somewhat with these trade-offs. We are on this journey to see the world with its different cultures and drastically varying ways people live. However at the same time, I do have the need to feel safe and healthy, and am lucky enough to have the ability to feel comfortable. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing though – even if I do not experience everywhere like a true local (and frankly, I never really will be able to), perhaps I will travel more as a result of having some feeling of home with me.
Do you think comfort conflicts with learning an area? How do you prefer to travel?
What city are we in as I write this? Amritsar, India – just on the other side of the Pakistani border
What’s the scene? Listening to some live, traditional folk music
What am I reading? Needed a fun read after Eleanor Oliphant so now reading Crazy Rich Girlfriend, sequel to Crazy Rich Asians