Travel Log 6 “The Mindful Traveler” by Elizabeth Marino. Barcelona, Spain

The mindful traveler is one who acknowledges the potentially negative impact he or she makes on a host country during their travels there. Slimbach says we can be mindful travelers when we have “awareness of how we affect the social and natural environments we enter and act upon” (Slimbach, location 1446 of 4428). The way Slimbach describes the mindful traveler, I see this as a person who knows how their every action affects the country, city, town, or village hosting them, and not just the overall damage. For example, a mindful traveler would be aware of the best place to buy his or her fruit in order to best benefit the host area, and then he or she would buy the fruit accordingly. I must admit, if my interpretation of Slimbach’s mindful traveler is what he meant, I am not a mindful traveler in that sense. While I always try to remain aware of what my presence in Barcelona may do, I do not know what my actual impact is on Barcelona. Take the fruit example. When I want some oranges, I go to the local grocery store and buy a prepackaged bundle. I couldn’t tell you if this is better or worse than buying oranges from the small convenience-like stores and fruit stands. Maybe the result of my buying oranges from the grocery store rather than these little shops is that the prices increase, and locals have to pay more than they would have. I would not go as far to say that I am a carefree drifter, but I do not fulfill the characteristics of a mindful character.

After thinking about this for some time, I think that our definition is pretty accurate. What Slimbach’s discusses of the mindful traveler makes me realize is that it takes a lot more to become part of the global community than I first thought. Prior to coming to Barcelona, I thought one way I could feel like I was joining the global community was by volunteering for a good cause. Slimbach described that many people who go on service learning trips or similar travels are not actually mindful travelers. Although bringing aid to people who need it is a positive thing, a presence of a foreigner may disrupt the host country. Now I believe that one must learn how to assimilate into a country without disrupting it. One can do this by becoming very educated on a country before entering it, and then using that learned information to be a mindful traveler.

I think being a mindful traveler is key characteristic to becoming part of the global community. As the definition we created states, in a global community people are “living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights”. Being abroad has taught me that the values certain countries have can be quite different than our own. In order to become part of the global community, one should learn what these values and rights are, and how to promote them. This is part of being a mindful traveler because a traveler’s impact can relate to such values. One way I plan to incorporate being a mindful traveler is to educate myself more on the Catalan’s wish for independence from Spain. At this point, I do not know if I would be in favor for this or not, but my actions as a student and tourist here could have some hidden impact on the issue. Maybe my trying to speak Spanish to a strong Catalan separatist is insulting and could cause him to fight for his cause even more. In order to know whether that is true or not, I must find out the way my trying to speak Spanish impacts the citizens of Barcelona. This poses the challenge of being a mindful traveler. The information one needs to know what kind of impact their actions leave on a host country may not be easily attainable.

I chose this picture because it relates to the example I gave in the first paragraph about knowing the impact of where one buys fruit. This is a picture of a fruit stand in a large covered market. I didn’t chose this picturfruite just because it goes well with my example, but because at the time I took the picture I remember debating if buying fruit from such a tourist destination was a good idea or not. As you can see, the fruit looks beautiful and delicious, and I felt very tempted to buy it. When I was thinking of this, I was concerned with how much money I would have to spend. Now, I know I should be thinking in terms of how my purchase or lack of purchase here affects the fruit prices for locals.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC., 2010. Kindle.


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