There is more to traveling than just seeing new places. To truly travel, one must immerse themselves in a new culture. They must embrace the new way of life that they are surrounded by, and they must surrender themselves to the realization that without becoming part of this new culture, they are merely a tourist not a traveler. Slimbach suggests that there are three main types of travelers. They are the “Mindful Traveler”, the “Carefree Drifter” and the “Mass Tourist”. Obviously we want to strive to be the “Mindful Traveler” and stray away from becoming a “Mass Tourist”. Slimbach explains how to become a Mindful traveler in five steps; economic mindfulness, cultural mindfulness, social mindfulness, ecological mindfulness and spiritual mindfulness. To truly evolve into the Mindful Traveler, one must first experience and practice the five elements needed to become one.
A Mass Tourist is one who travels to a new place for the purpose of taking pictures and saying that they have been there. They do not dive into the culture, nor do they experience any change during their time in the new place. They mindlessly skip through their experience with no real intention of learning about the new country they are in. I equate these to people I know on my trip who are incapable of doing something without taking a hundred pictures. It is if they are only abroad in this amazing country to take pictures to show to their friends back home. They are often to busy editing their instagram photos or putting up snapchats to really understand the culture around them. A Carefree Drifter is one who goes through their trip on autopilot, just going with the flow. They often will do what their friends do, usually unaware that there is more to the new country than the tourist traps and nightclubs. When I think of the Carefree Drifter I think about the people in my group that do whatever everyone else does. They seem to be incapable of making their own discussions, and must go where the majority of the group is going. This is sad to see because the Carefree Drifter can be missing out on so many things that they themselves would enjoy, however they are not confident enough to go experience these things without a crowd behind them. Slimbach says that these people, the majority of people, are “on automatic autopilot, largely oblivious to the movements themselves and how they impact the world around us” (Slimbach 74). A Mindful Traveler is one who stops and reflects on the new culture he or she is in. They will ask questions because they are truly interested in the new place they are in. Everyone who enjoys going to new places should aim to be a Mindful Traveler. Otherwise, the experience of being in a new culture is wasted. If you go to Australia solely to take pictures, go out to the same clubs, and hangout with the same people, then in my eyes you have wasted your time. There is time enough in our lives to get stuck in a routine and hangout with our comfortable group of friends and go to the same bars and clubs, but your time abroad is not the time for such activity.
So far I think I am doing a good job of working towards the title of Mindful Traveler, but there is much more I can be doing. I have made a large group of Australian friends which is a big step. It is nice to have friends outside of my study abroad group because I feel as if I was becoming a Carefree Drifter, just doing whatever all my friends were doing. Now I have the freedom to experience true Australian culture with real Australians. Going out with my friends from America is fun but I would never truly experience Australian culture without the help of real Aussies. I want to continue to work towards becoming a Mindful Traveler by asking more questions, and going to more local events.
My picture this week is of my Australian friends and I at the gym where I am now a personal trainer. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to find out what I truly want to pursue in life as a career, as well as being able to do this with local Australians. These people have impacted me greatly, they have shown me a new way of life and I have had experiences with them that I would not have gotten to do with an all American group.