Travel As a Political Act: A Radical Guide to Meaningful Travel – Rick Steves

"Understanding people and their lives is what travel is about, no matter where you go."

I have watched Rick Steves' TV shows on travel for what seems like an eternity (really, it has been about 20 years, which is still impressive). Rick has an optimistic and pleasant way about him, and in this book, we see a deeper side to Rick. In Travel As a Political Act, he shares his insights about how travel can change the world one trip at a time. It is an illuminating collection of stories and lessons from the road that shares powerful messages that resonate now more than ever. One of the key themes of this book is that we can learn more about our own country by viewing it from afar. When we travel thoughtfully, we bring back the most beautiful souvenir of all:  a broader perspective on the world that we all call home.

Here are some key takeaways:

Get out of your comfort zone: You can enjoy far richer experiences for far less money by venturing away from the mainstream. Try the path less traveled; it will make all the difference. Connect with people, and try to understand them: Make itinerary decisions that put you in touch with locals. Stay in people's homes and spend time with your hosts.

Be a cultural chameleon: Embrace cultural differences with joy rather than with judgment. Eat with your fingers in a Sri Lankan restaurant with no silverware, dip your fries in mayonnaise in Belgium, smoke a hookah in Greece, or kiss a stranger on both cheeks in France.

Empathize with the rest of humanity: Just like Americans have the American Dream, others have their own dreams. Put yourself in the shoes, or sandals, of the people you meet. Accept the legitimacy of other moralities: Be open to the possibility that controversial activities are not objectively right or wrong. Consider Netherlands' marijuana policy or the French farmers' take on force-feeding geese to produce foie gras. You don't have to like their answer, but at least try to understand it.

Sightsee with an edge: Seek out political street art, and find out what it means. Read local culture magazines and attend arts and political events. Take alternative tours to learn more about the world. For example, meet desperately poor villagers living with a spirit of abundance, and ponder how so many rich people live with a mindset of scarcity.

Make your trip an investment in a better world: Travel with a goal of good stewardship and a responsibility to be an ambassador for the entire planet.

Make a broader perspective your favorite souvenir: Travel shapes who you are! When you return, try to weave some of your favorite strands of other cultures into the tapestry of your own life. Live your life as if it shapes the world and the future because it does. Believe that you matter. Then make a difference.

Check out the Book Here.



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