What does it mean to be a mindful traveler? I have been asking myself this question quite often since I’ve arrived in Australia. I think it is important to be self aware during this journey, and to constantly reflect on my personal outlook. Being a mindful traveler has many definitions, yet I believe that the idea of being mindful while traveling revolves around self awareness and open-mindedness. In order to be successful at this, it is important to keep travel logs to document my thoughts and gather a grounded perspective. The difference between being a mindful traveler and a carefree drifter is that a drifter doesn’t take the time for self-reflection – they simply go with the flow, letting the surrounding environment affect them in whatever way it wants to. This is simply a one-way interaction from the environment to the traveler. This is also the case with being a mass tourist. Being a tourist causes the traveler to interact with the host country in an artificial way. Being a tourist requires minimal interaction with the fabric of the society. They are focused on having a more material experience, rather than intellectual. Our current definition of global community focuses on on the connections an commonalities that each individual community have with each other. The connections that unite them all are what create the global community. I feel that this definition that the class has created still holds true as I have had time to observe more of the global community. Specifically with Australia, there are plenty of aspects of this country that tie a global bond with the United States such as the language and the economy.
Although it is important to be a mindful traveler, I don’t feel it is completely necessary in order to be a part of the global community. As Slimbach states,“to be a ‘mindful traveler’ is to approach our field settings with a level of sensitivity and curiosity that raises our conscience awareness of how we affect the social and natural environments we enter and act upon.” (Slimbach, 74). In other words, we must be aware of our surroundings as well as ourselves in order to become a true mindful traveler. I believe that everyone on earth is a part of this community whether they are aware of it or not. Mindful travelers have a greater understanding of the global community, and in my opinion, can make a greater impact than those who simply exist within a community.
The image that I have chosen is of a women touching a do not touch sign. I found this picture in particular suitable for this post because I have realized that in order to be a mindful traveler, we may have to go against the grain at times. The norm for travelers is to have the foreign country they’re in make an impression on them – as I stated before, this is a one way interaction. To have success in being a mindful traveler, we must at times go against the norm; or touched what has previously not been touched. Of course this doesn’t mean to break laws, or cause a stir in the community, but better yet, step out of your comfort zone. Stop observing and start interacting. By doing this, you will be more inclined to evoke thought through your interactions. Also, with increased interaction comes an increased tendency to show emotion. Having motion isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but should controlled in order to gain a clear understanding of the global community. Too much of affect, cognition or behavior isn’t always the best way to approach a new community. Rather, the mindful traveler needs to approach any new situation as balanced as possible.