Travel Log 6, “The Mindful Traveler” by Brandon Lyons – Florence, Italy

Before my semester abroad I thought that there were only two types of people when it comes to traveling: those who do and those who don’t. However through my study abroad experience (and with a little help from Slimbach in Becoming World Wise) I have been able to recognize that there are, in fact, many different kinds of travelers. According to Slimbach there are three general types of travelers: the mass tourist, the carefree drifter and, finally, the mindful traveler. The mass tourist is generally the type of person you see in all major cities at all major tourist attractions. When I think of mass tourists, I think of people you see in large tour groups with fanny packs and selfie sticks. The mass tourist is someone that I’m sure we have all been able to identify with at one point. For example, I personally have traveled to Rome and Paris and in both cities I found myself constantly on the move trying to cram everything I possibly could into a limited amount of time. After being in Florence for over a month I have noticed these kinds of people more and more each day. This is not necessarily a bad thing when visiting a new place, seeing first hand places and buildings that you have only seen on postcards, but Simbach stresses the importance of going beyond this level of tourism when traveling in order to really experience the place you are visiting. The carefree drifter, on the other hand, is someone with no concrete plans that just kind of goes with the flow when traveling to a new place. Although this is a good way to go deeper into a city and discover new things, it also has its downsides. For example, several weekends ago I went to Venice for its world famous celebration of Carnevale. Instead of mapping out a route and making plans in advance, my roommate and I decided to “get lost” in the city and wander down different streets. It was definitely a great way to explore this city that was unfamiliar to us, however there were many times throughout the day when we felt lost and found ourselves walking in big circles.

Finally, there is the mindful traveler. The mindful traveler is someone who not only travels through a new place, but also makes an impact on the places they travel to. According to Slimbach, “every intercultural program participant is potentially a bridge between peoples, enabling an empathetic, two-way learning process that can be deeply rewarding for host and guest alike,” and the mindful traveler is someone who works to create this bridge between “us” and “them” (87). During our seminar back at Quinnipiac we, as a class, came up with the following working definition of global community: the global community is a shared living space of interdependent individuals endowed with universal human rights, while choosing to act upon them, embracing differences and working toward common goals. After reading about the mindful traveler, I think our definition of global community is very appropriate. It includes embracing differences and working toward common goals to make the world a better place. Going forward I definitely want to try my best to keep this definition in mind with each new place I travel to. I will strive to be this “bridge between peoples” and become an integral part of the global community.

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3 thoughts on “Travel Log 6, “The Mindful Traveler” by Brandon Lyons – Florence, Italy

  1. I can totally relate to feeling like a tourist. My first week or so in London, all I did was travel from end to end and take incessant numbers of pictures. I also recently went to Scotland, and I took so many pictures there I had to free up more storage on my phone. I also know exactly what you mean when you say you can notice tourists in Florence – I can spot them so easily here. They’re the people who (1) walk extremely slowly, (2) never have their oyster cards ready when trying to take the tube, (3) stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, etc. I was walking back to my dorm from the store today and got stuck behind a pack of tourists (I assumed because they were walking at what felt like a snail’s pace). I found myself thinking, “Ugh, I hate tourists,” which is so hypocritical of me because I know that I act the exact same way in other places! It’s so interesting how our points of view can change based on the amount of time we spend places.

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  2. I really liked how you mentioned the positive and negative aspects of each type of traveler. When reading Slimbach’s book it seems that the mindful traveler is the “best” and it is a very bad thing to be a tourist or a drifter. In reality, all three have their ups and downs, and I didn’t realize that until you just pointed it out. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

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  3. I enjoyed your points about mass tourist. I recently went on a trip to Thailand organized by my program. I was traveling with about 40 other students. This made mindful travel very challenging. I often felt like i was in a group of mass tourist due to the behavior of those around me. This resembled many of your points in the blog- selfie sticks, hundreds of pictures, rude attitudes. In the moments that I could break away from the group I found I was able to learn a significant amount more about Thai culture. This contrast was a direct representation of the differences between mindful traveling and mass tourism. It was interesting to be able to experience both at similar times and seems to be a similar experience to the one you blogged about the beginning of your semester. Great blog!

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