Ruth and I will set out on our six week tour of Europe next week amidst a daily assault of dire warnings of an impending “American First” crisis. The United States must defend itself from bad deals overseas. Our country’s borders have been infiltrated by a “sea” of illegal immigrants who cannot be trusted. Too many native Americans are losing their jobs to foreigners. Post 9/11 paranoia subjects innocent citizens to possible terrorist attack. Thus traveling abroad in this highly propagandized atmosphere of fear/distrust might seem undesirable now.
Yet today, these two seasoned travelers choose to venture forth, embracing global awareness and trust of those who are culturally different. In doing so, it makes no sense for us to brag about our country’s strengths or criticize another nation’s weaknesses. Always striving to plan our vacations to free us from unneeded city stress, we remain alert to safety concerns as needed.
It’s disturbing to realize that many Americans currently do not undertake foreign country travel. Statistics as to why are truly startling. Only 40% of Americans own a current passport while 29% have never been abroad. Under such circumstances, staying put perpetuates the likelihood of close-minded views. Potential cultural ignorance runs rampant among “blue collar” communities as many such Trump voters who never left their hometowns are among his strongest supporters. Our opinionated President also espouses “us vs.” them” rhetoric to his dedicated, “upper middle class” followers who largely reside in white dominant suburban areas. Under these circumstances, prejudicial intolerance conceivably runs rampant in such sheltered communities.
More Americans should realize that that extensive health benefits have been scientifically documented about traveling abroad. Studies show that as one visits unfamiliar countries, the more trusting he/she will be of others. In addition, research indicates that immersing oneself in multicultural travel experience reduces heart attack risk, lowers stress levels, decreases the likelihood of mental depression, promotes longer life span, and enhances creativity.
I thus wholeheartedly endorse the following actions at home to enhance preparation for successful overseas travel: 1) Consider ways to avoid brash displays of”standing out” in a crowd by paying mindful attention to your attire, mannerisms, and verbal communications. (2) Make an attempt to politely speak in a second language to foreign born individuals especially with regard to thank you, hello, and goodbye.3) Avoid stereotyping those you meet according to media “spun” propaganda. Treat everyone as an individual instead. (4) Frequent places you’ve never been as a way to gain greater cultural awareness.(5) Realize that staring at a computer screen such as a You Tube video to access the world around you clearly cannot substitute for authentic international travel. So live your life more fully. Make the right choice to travel.