I stumbled across a salon.com interview with travel guru Rick Steves from 2009. It was very insightful and told us more about the happy-go-lucky tour guide people know from watching PBS.
I think I began watching Travels in Europe in high school or college. I was immediately hooked, and stored the knowledge for whenever I would be able to escape to Alsace or the Cinque Terra. He made some good points about customs, Americans and travel vs, tourism. The funniest point he made is that only Westerners sit on their toilets, other cultures are squatters-I had no idea. My trip to Germany last year did reveal that the toilets have shelves in them; supposedly for fecal surveillance. I’ll leave that right there.
Steves also noted that only a third of the world eats with forks and knives. The next third with chopsticks, and the last third with their hands. His point was that Americans who have not had diverse travel experiences believe their way and culture is the “norm”. Everyone else is either deviating or abnormal.
He also believes there is a distinct difference between travel and tourism. He compared tourism to the all-inclusive resort compounds full of other tourists-usually attractive ones. He has faith that savvy, experienced travelers know the difference between a tourist trap and an authentic experience. If you have watched his show as long as I have, that travel savvy will rub off on you.
The interview shows a strong desire from Steves that Americans see the world. He sees travel as an educational tool that exposes us all to the fact that most people want the same out of life-health, happiness and happy children, but politics and extremism sometimes get in the way of how outsiders see these desires. His persona on his show is more friendly towards this issue, but the article shows a deeper and more passionate argument for international travel and a more connected world.
Here is a link to the article: