I've decided to create a new Twitter hashtag called #travelbyexample inspired by several conversations I've had in the past several months and most recently on Twitter yesterday with Kenji from @PassportLife when he posed the following question:
A gap year off after high school or college to travel is a standard in Europe. In America, not so much. Why is that?
|Tracey & Casey #selfportrait|
(And yes, I've named my Bags by eBags suitcase.)
My response was simple: Fear. The longer answer had I not been in a hurry (and not had the confines of 140 characters on Twitter) would have been: Fear...from parents (typically the funders of college) that a year off from school could result in any host of worst-case-scenarios, namely getting the travel bug and deciding to continue to travel for more than a year...hence, putting off college; deciding not to go to college at all; finding love in another country and never coming back; yada yada yada. You get the picture.
And while I acknowledge that travel in many families is considered a luxury and not a lifestyle and while I also acknowledge that many folks are misinformed about how travel doesn't actually have to be luxurious to be enjoyed, there is definitely a pretty big segment of the American population that operates from this base of fear and lack of information. Because as all of us travelers know, there is more to be gained by travel than not traveling at all.
The solution, IMHO, is what I tell myself when I deal with Fearful Parents that won't let their children go to OBG Adventure Camps and adults who are afraid to venture off on a solo trip, etc.: Travel by example. Show people that travel can be fun and safe and mind-blowing and life-changing. Maybe, just maybe, if all of The Wanderlusts keep traveling and sharing their stories, The Fearful will get The Bug and become Wanderlusts too.
I'm sure there are loads of other reasons I'm not considering and other solutions as well. Anyone care to chime in?
In the meantime, get your passport and #travelbyexample.