Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travel as a Political Act


I'm just finishing reading Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act. He makes a lot of good points about Europeans, Americans, and travel. I particularly love the quote Steves gives from Muhammad: "Don't tell me how educated you are; tell me how much you've traveled."

So true.

While repatriation will be tough for many expats, I think it gives us an opportunity to impact our home countries from our learnings abroad in a positive way. And from that standpoint, when my time comes, I'll be looking forward to going home.

For instance: Steves discusses the European joy for life. I see this too. Most Europeans are happy to make do with less. They live in apartments. Many don't own cars. But they do have time off–and many aren't willing to part with that for more money and more stuff.

I've written about American work ethic before, and I don't think we will ever see protests in the street like you would in France if someone tries to take away your vacation time. But after living in Europe (and also working my butt off American style), I feel strongly that Americans have an opportunity to become less materialistic in exchange for a better work/life balance. I know Americans that work two jobs just so they can buy that fancy house with the three-car garage even though there are only two family members old enough to drive.

I didn't think I could go from living in an American three-bedroom house to living in a Swiss two-bedroom apartment, but guess what. It's great. There's less to clean, no grass to cut, and I have time to do other things instead: like travel and get educated.

Anyhow, for those interested in how travel (and living abroad) can help you improve your own country, I highly recommend Travel as a Political Act.

11 comments:

Kristin said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I love Rick Steves. I agree that many people are too materialistic here, but "supposedly" some of that has been cut back because of the recession. Personally, I would riot/protest in the streets for Americans to get more vacation. When I used to teach ESL, nobody could believe that we only get 2 weeks (if we're lucky).

Family Adventure said...

Love this post! And so agree with the work/life balance...and how it's sometimes skewed in N. America. Here's to no mowing and less cleaning :)

Kathy said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Love Rick Steves, our hometown boy (close enough anyway). Ordered my copy. Interesting to see that he published with Nation Books.

Kay B.Elle said...

I will order the book later today. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks!

Traveler For Good said...

That book is great. For those who haven't read it, enjoy!

Chantal said...

Hope everyone enjoys the book as much as I did. And here's to more time off for us hard-working Americans!

Freddy said...

Holiday greetings from Seattle.Loving your book choices.
Hattie

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