“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
Although wanderers and adventurers have been exploring the globe since time unknown, the origins of mass tourism only began to rise at the beginning of the 19th century. Guidebooks and brochures, periodicals, photographs and personal travel journals provided unique insight into the expansion and inspiration of travel. In the last 100 years we’ve come a long way, where travel is now accepted as an everyday commodity, too easily packaged and sold down a long chain of travel agencies, reps, and hospitality groups. As we near 2020, travel continues to evolve its face and appeal reinventing not only popular travel but also raising questions about why we do it and how we do it.
The Origins of Travel
As the last century saw the mysteries of the world open up and made accessible to all, the pivotal point may have been at the end of the 60’s, when travel as a phenomenon evolved into a more glamorous creature than before. Glossy magazines started to feature editorials in far-flung places, showing fashion models riding camels in Dior. This had the dual effect of enticing more women to travel, as well as drawing attention to lesser-known areas like the Middle East.
As the end of the century drew near, travel saw exponential growth in accordance with the yuppie lifestyle, with abounding all-inclusive packages, colossal resorts and other artifices of travel. You could leave behind your daily grind without having to worry about adapting to foreign cultures… Hawaii, Bahamas and St. Tropez buzzed as travel destinations that exuded an exotic glamour. Where routine worries of life could be left behind. Travel as escape became a major theme as an attempt to remedy the stress of daily living.
The Progressive Voyager
The drive for status and appearance of affluence peaked as we crossed over into the new millennium. As society started to feel unrest, travel trends followed suit. A desire for a deeper connection to place and self started to materialize. “Experiential travel” summed up this growing movement of people who wanted to integrate and experience the uniqueness of their new environment. Cultural immersion or activities in nature became more popular, and the quest for authentic experiences began to gain momentum. Environmental consciousness and social responsibility also began to rise, just as organic food and eco products entered mainstream awareness.
The Purposeful Traveler
The latest evolution of travel reflects societies’ newest concern: purpose. As we reformat our lives to reflect our underlying needs for connection and inspiration, the travel industry also molds to meet these demands. We no longer want to travel to forget, or to ease the discomfort of our daily lives, but to enrich. Experiences are chosen to deepen our understanding of self and the world we live in. From Tokyo food markets to Bali’s organic farms, we no longer need to be tourists, but co-creators of the experience. We take away new teachings, tastes, smells, traditions and ways of viewing the world, which we aggregate to our own lives. This could be summed up in the phrase “Don’t spectate… aggregate”… we add each experience into our worldview, and as a result grow, externally with others and internally with ourselves.