January 5, 2003
easy to stay home.
a new year begins, travelers face continuing economic uncertainty and
security concerns. Many wonder if it's worth the expense and challenge
of venturing to unfamiliar places.
in time, Arthur Frommer, the man who helped invent modern travel with
his book Europe on $5 a Day, has the reasons we must set aside
our doubts and go see the world.
is not mere recreation," he said a few weeks ago at a conference in
New York's Hudson River Valley area. "It is not trivia. It is
education and perhaps the most important education."
Frommer, 75, had returned from his first trip to China just 36 hours
before speaking. He was fighting jet lag, but the former lawyer made a
clear case. Travel teaches seven important lessons, he says.
his list and feel the pull of the road.
Travelers learn that all people in the world are basically alike.
all care about family and protecting our loved ones, Mr. Frommer says.
During his trip to China, he and his wife met an elderly woman. She
didn't speak English, but when she saw the Frommers' gray hair, she
insisted they wait while she ran to get something. She returned a moment
later with pictures of her grandchildren.
recalls sitting in a mud hut years earlier and hearing a young African
mother confide her wish to learn to read. She wanted to understand
government pamphlets about health care so she could protect her
from all the exterior differences, we all share the basic urges and
concerns," Mr. Frommer says.
Travelers discover that everyone regards himself or herself as wiser and
better than other people in the world.
while visiting Amsterdam, Mr. Frommer spoke to a friend the day after a
nationwide telethon had raised 60 million guilders (about $27.5 million)
for cancer research.
in Holland!" the friend bragged.
Frommer resisted a smile.
you travel, you get rid of smug chauvinism," Mr. Frommer says.
"All people believe themselves the best."
Travel makes us care about strangers. A famine or disaster isn't
distant, abstract suffering if you've visited the region. "We
become concerned for other people," Mr. Frommer says. "Travel
makes it impossible to pay no heed to others."
Travel teaches that not everyone shares your beliefs. In issues small
and large – from child-rearing to politics – a traveler learns there
are many ways of thinking. "You become a larger person when you
confront your opposite," Mr. Frommer says.
Travelers learn that there is more than one solution to a problem.
Whether it's the surprise of learning about Asian medical practices in
Hong Kong or seeing Scandinavia's liberal social policies at work, a
traveler discovers that there are many ways to address an issue.
Travel teaches you to be a minority. While traveling in Africa, Mr.
Frommer was keenly aware he was different. Even African-Americans are
minorities in Africa, he says.
yourself suddenly the odd man out is healthy and eye-opening, Mr.
Frommer says. "You become fully aware of whatever racist impulses
exist in your own subconscious."
become a quieter American as a result of travel, and in my opinion a
smarter and even, perhaps, a more-thoughtful one," Mr. Frommer
he says, is something we all must do. "It is key in developing a
worthy goal for a new year. May 2003 open new horizons for all of us.
Larry Bleiberg is Travel editor of the Dallas
E-mail to Larry from Mary:
Thanks for the article on why to travel - I really enjoyed it. The reasons
Frommer states are so valid for me, and I would add "making life-long friends." I am a member of Friendship Force of
Dallas, part of an international organization whose members in the 350 clubs worldwide stay in
each others' homes as part of club exchanges. Our motto is "A world of friends is a world of peace." We get to know people
from other countries and cultures by living with them and experiencing their
world. And they get to know us and others around the world. After 9/11, our
American members were showered with letters and e-mails of sympathy from
our friends around the world. We are no longer those Americans over there,
we are their friends. They know us and they grieved with us.
I invite you to visit our webpage (I am the
webmaster) at www.friendshipforcedallas.org. If you are willing, I would like to include your column
(with credit to you of course) on this page. Hoping for an affirmative reply and looking forward
to more interesting articles in the Travel section, I am sincerely,
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