Travel Log #6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

While reading Slimbach’s chapter “A Mindful Traveler”, I was able to decipher and separate a mindful traveler from a tourist and a drifter.

The mindful traveler is someone who takes the social, economic, and ecological factors of the rest of the world. The tourist is someone who just goes to the destination to enjoy himself or herself. They only really care about themselves, and their own part of the world. Slimbach describes the difference while talking about Rabindranath Tagore, who was a famous traveler and poet. Slimbach quotes him and explains it by saying “ ‘ The complete man must never be sacrificed to the patriotic man, or even to the mere moral man,’ he warned in a letter from New York to a friend (Tagore, 1996). For Tagore, patriotism and nationalism were but passing phases in the evolution of the human community. He believed that in time, and with the increase of cultural exchange, the cosmopolitan ideal would be reached. That humanity is too good for narrow interests and exclusive loyalties.” (Slimbach LOC 1394). They are saying that people today care too much about their country, and how they influence the culture surrounding said country. We need to think bigger, and ask ourselves how we can affect the entire planet. For some reason, we as a species separate ourselves and categorize ourselves into exclusive groups. This grouping is regressive towards the social and cultural change some parts of the world need. This is why being a mindful traveler is an important part of traveling the world. We need to be aware of the problems and changes people need in various in parts of world, so that we can all work together to improve the planet. I have seen examples of this while traveling through Australia. While staying in a hostel in Byron Bay, I met a bunch of European backpackers who were traveling the country, all while trying to clean up some of Australia’s beaches. They believed that they needed to take care of the country that they were enjoying, in order to pay it back in their own way. I think that the definition we created for the global community fits the idea of the mindful traveler. We all have to join together and fight to make the changes we want to see in the world.

I do believe that being a mindful traveler is the most important part of being a participant in the global community. A big factor that has changed me here is the way Australians try to protect their environment. After going to the Great Barrier Reef and seeing how the Reef is dying, I want to do my part to help ensure that other students like myself have the opportunity to see one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. To do my part, I have decided to cut down on my energy consumption by using a lot less appliances and reducing the amount of water I use. Another changed I made was drinking water from a metal refillable bottle rather than using multiple plastic bottles that will hurt the environment. While it seems like a small change, I feel as though I am part of a community that is working to keep Australia’s beautiful scenery healthy for future students.

The picture that I included is a picture of my “hostel” in Byron Bay. The place I stayed in was actually just a campground, where we stayed in private tents rather than crowded rooms. There was no wasted energy out there; it was just living outside on the coast of Australia. While I know it was reducing energy consumption, I also felt like it was a cool experience for me as well. Being taken out of the modern world we live in, and just laying under the clear sky on the beach was just surreal. Being able to experience that was well worth not being able to use my phone.



Works Cited:

Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC 1394


One thought on “Travel Log #6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia

  1. Wow Mitch I am truly impressed and inspired by your experience in Australia. While in Ireland I have actually met quite a bit of Australian people and not a single one has fallen under the definition of a “tourist.” They have all been so open and conscientious of both the land and the people and I only hope that I portray the same kind of respect. I also find that it is super cool that they use campgrounds instead of buildings. From my experience, I find that hostels are extremely wasteful especially in regards to electricity and water. Hopefully more places will consider the more conservative route. I wish you good luck on your endeavor to stay ecologically mindful and I will try and do the same!



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