Do more than armchair travel

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Photo by Aaron Cranford

By Aaron Cranford

Armchair traveling has its perks, but there is no substitute for the real thing.

Traveling to new countries and experiencing diverse cultures changes your perspective of the world you live in, and so, you should try to have the opportunity or experience of travel. Beautiful photographs and scenic videos will certainly catch the eye of the woman or man filled with wanderlust, and the media is a wonderful means of experiencing a place or places before you make plans to go there.

But you should not desire to stare at travel photography on your computer every single day, such as how an armchair traveler would. The world is so massive and full of splendor. So, if you are reading this don’t just be an armchair traveler, be an explorer of the beautiful world you live in.

But what exactly is “armchair travel”?

Trying to define “armchair travel” requires an understanding of another term, armchair anthropology. An armchair anthropologist essentially is a person who has a basic understanding of a culture by way of text or theory, but the person never has conducted field work; the individual has no practical experience, and so, he theoretically makes claims from his armchair.

Thus, the term, “armchair travel,” has two related, but distinct meanings.

First, traveling around the world, taking pictures of your experience and returning, is not real travel experience. Can you really say you experienced what it is like to live in or interact with the culture if you do not totally or fully involve yourself? Essentially, you are not immersing yourself in the new culture and country. Instead of noticing and involving yourself in the culture’s way of life, you are only concerned with capturing experience of another. Here’s a tip: while taking pictures of certain people, approach them and ask them for their name. The interaction may lead to interesting experiences, and the name will give your photographs veracity and even a story behind them.

You want to allow the travel experience to develop you into a person with a broader world view or perspective. In order to have a rich, all-encompassing experience, you must fully involve yourself.

Armchair travel also can literally mean sitting in your chair, gazing at travel photographs and reading travel blogs, such as this one. You may have no practical experience of travel, but you ponder about it and look at photographs of it. Like I said in another blog post, if you have the urge to travel, go. The experiences you have abroad will be well worth any amount of time, effort or money.

On a good note, armchair travel is not all that bad. When I have wanderlust, I gaze at old photos of mine and start typing my experiences of long ago. I look forward to all of my next adventures abroad, so in the meantime, I do not mind considering myself to be a part-time armchair traveler. I think everyone has it in them.

When was the last time you traveled? When is your next holiday? Share your thoughts below.

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