I’m sure that you love to travel. You probably have a list of cities and places you’ve been to, and another list detailing all the place you want to go to in your lifetime. You may have bookmarked things that are instagram-friendly to make sure everyone knows that you’ve been to the key iconic places and are cultured and such.
Let me let you in on another secret, there’s a limit to your wokeness. While you may be traveling to “get out of your comfort zone”, you are simply recreating your lifestyle in different countries. Eating your avocado toast, sipping your nitro-brewed coffee, and staying at a minimalist Scandinavian-style Airbnb is not getting out of your comfort zone. Neither is doing “authentic” Airbnb experiences. These are all contrived lifestyle options that have been created simply because they work commercially. For a generation that prides themselves on being conscientious and woke about everything, this feels like a gross oversight
I understand you may want a sense of belonging wherever you go, and that’s perfectly understandable. However, replicating your millennial- nouveau lifestyle is only creating an unsustainable standard of living for those around you. Tourist apartments are displacing many permanent residents in many major cities.
And when we take a step back and think about it, why is this word so divided? If we are all striving for the same ideal (literally around the world), why are we so divisive about our political beliefs? Religious beliefs?
The concept of “organic” and “authentic” is very fascinating to me. Nothing comes from nothing. Everything comes from something. We are influenced, forced, inspired, and touched every minute and every day. And more so now than ever with the influence of social media. So why do we search the world for “new” experiences? Yes they may be new for some (and maybe my misconception here is that they are new for “a lot”, “many” and potentially the “majority”), but they all come together at the end.
I particularly see this happening in cities and urban areas. Some examples include:
Frank Gehry buildings or sculptures
Urban parks – Good Lines in Sydney, Highline Park in New York, Atlanta Beltline in Atlanta
Grand Central Terminal – in Sydney and New York
Mirror Mazes (with crazy lights and mirrors) – in Budapest and San Francisco
Musical fountains – in Las Vegas and Budapest
Furniculars – in Budapest and Pittsburgh
And perhaps this speaks to the human condition. The clear overlap in these cities makes us all “human”, that despite political, religious, and cultural beliefs, we all think very similarly. From the lens of city planning, I see this so clearly. The layouts of cities are so similar. In graduate school, one of the first texts we were exposed to were those by Christopher Alexander, a famous architect and urban planner, who coined the term “pattern languages”. A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization within a field of expertise. Pattern languages are crucial to urban planning so that we don’t keep reinventing the wheel. And by accepting and implementing design patterns, we create some degree of homogeneity.
I’ve thought about what unites as as a generation. As a race. As a gender. And maybe this flavor of travel (and others), are essentially historical events cycling back. In the 1930s, the price of cars dipped so low that they became affordable for the common man. It seems as if travel could potentially be a great “uniter”. But the question here at the end of the day to consider is: What is the ultimate goal of travel? What does the change in environment incite for you? What does it bring to mind when you compare and contrast your environment (and by extension your home, sense of belonging, and your choices there) to the environment you’re traveling to?