Why We Need Travel More Than Ever

by Brenna Holeman

Koh Lanta - 32 of 60

Like me, you’ve probably been really, really frustrated lately. It seems you can’t go online without seeing the latest tragedy, the latest mass killing, the latest senseless act that leaves innocent people dead. Every time it happens – and it happens far too often – I try to wrap my head around it, try to understand why people want to hurt other people. And, of course, I simply can’t understand, which I’m sure you can’t, either.

I wrote a post in March after the attacks in Brussels called People Are Good. In it, I talked about remaining positive in the face of fear. I wrote, “I truly believe that, as a whole, we are good. Life will go on even in the wake of tragedy, so let’s choose to live our lives with happiness and with hope instead of with fear of one another. Let’s continue to laugh with each other and love one another, and let’s continue to learn from each other, too. Through travel and cross-cultural interactions, let’s remember how wonderful this planet really is. Let’s remember that people are good.”

I try to remain positive every day, and to remind myself that the majority of the people on this planet do not wish harm against one another. But fuck, it’s difficult sometimes.

It’s difficult when you hear about a person with so much hatred inside him that he feels the need to fire a semi-automatic rifle into a crowd of people dancing, that he feels the need to detonate a bomb strapped to his chest while surrounded by families doing their daily shopping, that he feels the need to wield an axe on a train of commuters just trying to get home, that he feels the need to drive a truck through a busy street filled with children.

It’s difficult when you hear about young men being shot just for reaching for their wallet.

It’s difficult when you hear about casual post-Brexit racism happening in your own neighbourhood, to your own neighbours.

And I sit down, and I read all the news articles I can, and I debate whether or not hashtag activism is insensitive or not, and I talk to my parents about it, and I talk to my friends about it, and then I just feel hopeless. I feel like there is nothing I can do.

But, in a way, I suppose there is something I can do, and something you can do, too. I can travel. We can travel.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes right now. Like, yeah yeah, I’m sure your beach holiday is really going to solve all of the world’s problems, you selfish idiot. But in a world where the media tells us that we should fear each other, perhaps the only way we’re going to solve anything is by actually meeting each other and realising how much of that fear is unsubstantiated.

Will it solve all the world’s problems instantly? No, of course not. But the majority of avid travellers I’ve met over the years are open-minded, inquisitive, and kind. They want to learn about the place they’re in, and they want to interact with the people who live there. The cowards perpetrating these heinous acts (not to mention a few politicians) want us to stay home; they want to incite fear in us, and to make us hate one another, and to close our minds and our hearts to one another. They want us to build up walls, to create a fortress of fear and uncertainty. They want us to judge someone on the basis of their skin colour, their language, their religion, their name. They want us to fear – and to hate – anyone who isn’t just like us.

Travelling is the opposite of all of that. Travelling forces us to interact with people who look differently, talk differently, live differently. Travelling makes us appreciate those differences, empathise with them, and understand why tolerance and respect for one another is an absolute necessity. It makes us talk to people we may never have met otherwise, makes us realise that the majority of people in the world are good, helpful, and kind-hearted.

Again – the only way we will combat hatred and intolerance is by actually speaking to one another and learning about each other. And if you’re unable to travel or don’t want to travel, go out in your own city and try to do the same: talk to the person in the queue next to you at the supermarket, talk to your taxi driver, talk to a barista, volunteer in your community. Just say hello. Sometimes that’s all it takes to break down barriers. Life is indeed short, and so let’s spend our lives trying to share as much good and as much love as we can. Let’s make our lives full of tolerance and acceptance, because if we don’t have those, we have failed as a human race. And I, for one, refuse to throw in the towel.

I truly believe that travel can be an act of support as well as an act of defiance in the face of those who seek to create terror. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not going to stop travelling, and I hope you won’t either.



Where are you going on your next adventure?

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Danny July 21, 2016 - 9:37 pm

Very well said. I think that as trivial as it may sound, travel is the best means of diplomacy there is. We might dress differently, speak a different language, believe in a different higher power, and have different political views. But at the end of the day, travel can teach us one fundamental truth, and that is this – we are more alike than we are different.

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:52 pm

Yes, I definitely agree. Thank you very much for your comment, Danny!

Cate July 22, 2016 - 1:12 pm

Very well timed post! It’s true that coming back from a trip you realize how much you learned about the world and the people that live in it.

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:50 pm

Yes, I agree – I love how much travelling can teach us.

Ella July 22, 2016 - 1:26 pm

I couldn’t agree with this post more. Travel is an excellent way to become a more open-minded and accepting individual, because you get to challenge your preconceived notions and ideas about those that are different to you, with the truth. Because you actually allow yourself to see the truth for yourselves with your own eyes and heart, instead of relying on someone else’s false depictions. False depictions that are created because of the creator’s own selfish and insensitive agendas. Travel is a wonderful starting point to healing the mind and hearts of xenophobia.

I also love Danny’s comment above, where he says, “we are more alike than we are different”. I have been a firm believer of this truth for a very long time. Because even though we all different, races, religions, sexes, nationalities etc.. we’re all human. And I’m convinced that that is more important than everything else.

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:53 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Ella! I totally agree that travelling is a great way to become more open-minded… I certainly have over the years, and I’m so thankful for it.

Allison July 22, 2016 - 2:12 pm

This is a really beautiful post. I’ve been wanting to write something like this for a long time, but you’ve put it into words far better than I could. Especially this part:
But in a world where the media tells us that we should fear each other, perhaps the only way we’re going to solve anything is by actually meeting each other and realising how much of that fear is unsubstantiated.

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:53 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Allison! I’m glad that you liked the post.

Maria July 22, 2016 - 2:24 pm

Great post, Brenna! Indeed, it’s really difficult to stay positive in the world we live in. But, there’s so much beauty around us. Nature, culture, different people… Us, humans, despite being different, we share so many beautiful things! The beauty of feelings, the beauty of the human mind, the beauty of everything we have created! Nowadays, with all these problems and bad things that happen, we truly need travel more than ever. Let’s just have a positive attitude and get over the fear. Let’s fall in love with life, let’s travel…

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:54 pm

I agree, Maria… there’s so much beauty around us, in nature and in people. I just hope that we can all stop fearing each other and start realising how much we have to learn from one another.

Linda July 22, 2016 - 2:51 pm

Oh Brenna, how absolutely true all your statements feel! And to re-use the word “well-timed” from Cate’s reply above: in light of so much of the current political rhetoric, we need to keep hearing and stressing that coming together, not ripping apart, is the way to create a beautiful quilt of humanity. You’ve hit the mark with your wonderful and thought-provoking post. Thank you!

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 2:58 pm

Thank you so much for your comment – I totally agree. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post!

Pete July 22, 2016 - 3:18 pm

Couldn’t agree more Brenna. As ever, succinct and well put.

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 3:27 pm

Thank you so much, Pete.

Paige July 22, 2016 - 3:24 pm

I needed this post more than ever! I leave for my two-week England/Scotland/Ireland solo trip on Monday and my parents are super worried about it, which is increasing my nerves. But I so strongly believe everything you’ve said here (and they do too, deep down).

P.S. If you’re around next week, I’ll be in Brighton from the 7/26 to 8/2 with definitely one probably two day trips to London sometime in there–would love to buy you a coffee or drink as a thank you for all the inspiration! : )

Brenna Holeman July 22, 2016 - 3:29 pm

I understand why people are worried, but in all my travels, I have encountered 99% positivity and good. I hope you have an amazing time on your holiday and yes, when you’re in London please get in touch! I’ll be away from July 29th to August 1st. 🙂

Nina Lee: World into Words July 22, 2016 - 4:10 pm

It is so much easier to give in to fear than to work towards breaking down barriers, but you’re right in that, when we work through that fear, when we reach out and try to connect to those around us, we can then be on a path towards really tackling the root cause of all of these problems. You hit the nail on the head when you said that it’s also important to talk to people in your local community. I think it’s also crucial to make it a point to talk to people who are different from us, whether we agree with them or not. I recently dialogued with an NRA member and though neither of us were able to change each other’s minds, that conversation alone was enough for us to be able to connect and understand that we are not all going to agree but that we can disagree and make an effort to live together in peace. Dialogue is the way forward and it’s something simple that we can all do in our daily lives!

Brenna Holeman July 25, 2016 - 12:19 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Nina… I totally agree with what you’ve said here! We’re not all going to agree, but we can definitely make an effort to live together in peace. Thanks again!

Marlee July 22, 2016 - 7:49 pm

Thank-you so much for this post and reminder. I leave for my first solo trip in about two months (another blonde Canadian taking to the road!) and as some people mentioned above, my parents can’t help but express their concerns and worries. I would be lying too if I said I wasn’t feeling a little nervous as well, for so many reasons and not all related to the recent tragedies. While the potential positives definitely out-way the negatives, it’s hard not to feel bogged down at times with these stories of fear. It’s really nice to have a burst of reassurance from a seasoned solo traveler in among all of the recent sad and scary news. Thank-you for sharing your positive views!

Brenna Holeman July 25, 2016 - 12:18 pm

Thank you for sharing your story here, Marlee… and I’m sure you’re going to have an incredible time on your adventure! I think it’s totally natural to feel a bit nervous, but I promise you after a few days of travelling, you’ll feel confident and assured.

Ashley July 22, 2016 - 9:15 pm

I’m so glad you wrote this, Brenna, and I agree completely with every word you wrote! I would consider myself a compassionate, open-minded, and tolerant individual, and travel has only helped to deepen and reinforce these traits within me. Like you, I will continue to travel – all the fear-mongering in the world can’t stop me 😉 And my next (mini) adventure is to Bratislava next week!

Brenna Holeman July 25, 2016 - 12:17 pm

Thank you very much, Ashley – I’m so glad that you liked the post and that you will continue to travel as much as ever. 🙂

Kristina July 29, 2016 - 6:04 pm

Well said Brenna. And the truth is in the pudding: those that travel are indeed more open, tolerant, accepting and eager even to learn about other customs and practices, foods and people. With all this going on in the world, the uncertainty that is rife in many countries and in many hearts and minds, this is def the moment to not draw back, embracing fear but instead to open and welcome others.
Thx for this post- it needed saying.

Ian August 2, 2016 - 12:47 pm

Great writing and 100% spot on, Brenna. I’ve recently returned to the UK after 15 months of travel and I actually feel more fearful sitting in my armchair than I did at any point while I was away. The world has certainly got its problems but, then again it always has. Already planning the next adventure and now that I’ve found your blog I’ll be following you along, too.

Brenna Holeman August 2, 2016 - 2:35 pm

Thanks a lot for your input, Ian – and I totally understand how you feel! I hope that you’ll enjoy the blog.

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Our Wanders August 10, 2016 - 9:21 am

Thanks, Brenna! We were so happy to read your previous post People Are Good. And we needed this one just as much! Because we fear sometimes and we also feel hopeless sometimes. But in the end, just like you said, we refuse to throw in the towel. A recent article from Mark Manson also made us think more deeply about this topic: https://markmanson.net/crazy-world

Brenna Holeman August 10, 2016 - 10:08 am

I read that post, and it’s fantastic. Thanks a lot for your comment, I’m glad you feel the same way!

Zalie August 15, 2016 - 12:36 am

I so agree with you on all of these points Bren. We really need to break down the barriers as you said, and one of the ways we can go about doing that is by travel, or simply being kind to our own neighbours.

Brenna Holeman August 15, 2016 - 4:45 pm

Thank you very much, Zalie! I’m glad that you liked the post. 🙂

Mahee Ferlini August 27, 2016 - 3:09 pm

Thank you for this post! I love you blog Brenna!

Uzma Khan April 5, 2017 - 5:09 am

Travelling is a food for the soul. Continue feeding the soul to keep it alive 🙂

Brenna Holeman April 6, 2017 - 12:55 am

I agree! 🙂


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