Travel and World Peace: How Traveling the World has Changed My Perspective

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The world news has been catching my attention lately in a way that it hasn’t in the past.  Seeing coverage of the election of the new Pope at the Vatican a few months back, and the details of the escalating instability in North Korea made me think of my recent visits to these places.

Both of these recent events really brought home how much travel has changed my perspective on the world.  The world feels like a smaller place, where tensions or joys on the other side of the globe have the potential to impact my daily existence.  Before traveling outside of the country, these things would have seemed more trivial and distant to me.  Now, I care.  Now, I get it.

When I hear about the uncertainty in North Korea, I can picture the faces of the kind people in South Korea who are understandably worried about any instability from their neighbors in the north.

Peace ribbons at the edge of the DMZ in South Korea

I can remember the tension and worry that I could feel in daily life there, lying just underneath the surface, and the sadness that comes from living in a  relatively recently divided country where many people still have relatives that are on the other side that they might never see again.

The Vatican to me is not just some place that I see occasionally on the television news.  I can remember that moment of awe when we walked into St. Peter’s Square on our first big international trip when I had to take a deep breath and think, “Wow, we are really here!”  Being in this awe inspiring place gave me a different type of appreciation for the Catholic faith and the influence that it has with its millions of followers.

St Peters Basilica, The Vatican, Rome

I do realize that I have been truly blessed in my life to have had the opportunity to spend so much time traveling the world.  I just wish that everyone could have the opportunity to experience the magic of learning about another culture through the lens of travel.


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What travel has taught me is that as a global community, we are all more alike than we are different.  Despite differences in DNA and geography the basic realities of daily life on this planet as a human beings tie us together.  When you break it down, we all have similar needs, hopes, disappointments.

When you are in a foreign place, and you really make a connection with someone different than you, it can be a life changing experience.

It might be a moment where you are in a restaurant and a helpful local sees the confused look on your face and they help you order off of a strange menu, or in a subway station where a stranger points you in the right direction.

An off the beaten path gem in Chiang Dao, Thailand with few tourists to be seen.

In that moment, as you share a smile, you make eye contact and you realize that even though you might not speak the same language, you really are more alike than you are different.

It is these moments that I remember from our travels moreso than the incredible places that we have seen.

If everybody could learn this lesson in the way that only travel can give it, I think that the world might be a more peaceful place.

Travel and world peace?  I think so.

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Travel and World Peace: How Traveling the World has Changed My Perspective

10 Responses

  1. I believe that most people want peace. It’s the governments, world leaders and big business who benefit from war and who incite others to keep it going…
    Andrea recently posted..Travel With Dietary RequirementsMy Profile

    Andrea July 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm #
  2. Travel gives me a new perspective on so many things in life. I don’t always have good lessons learned from doing it. But in the end, what matters is that there are lessons learned. My view of the world is broadened and I’m all the better for it. Changing perspectives and learning new lessons will help, I think, towards a more peaceful world.
    Sherry recently posted..Puget Sound View from Orcas IslandMy Profile

    Sherry July 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm #
  3. Well said, Shanna. The situation in North Korea is very worrisome and I think when people never leave their own country, it is hard to truly grasp what is going on in the world. Travel indeed opens your eyes and it also has taught me we’re really not as different as we might believe.
    Jennifer recently posted..Wine Wednesday: Tips for Packing Wine in LuggageMy Profile

    Jennifer August 1, 2013 at 8:37 am #
    • Since I have written this piece, things in North Korea SEEM to have settled a bit, but without any resolution, the tension is still there just below the surface. I really think that the awareness of this connection with all of the other people in the world can make great things happen!

      Shanna August 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm #
  4. I couldn’t agree more! I know that travel can be life changing, for both the traveler and the inhabitants of regions travelled to – particularly when travellers are careful to travel in socially and environmentally responsible ways.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..Top 5 Thailand National ParksMy Profile

    Mary @ Green Global Travel August 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm #
    • The way that travel changes those who live in the regions that you travel to is a different perspective that I am happy many people are finally starting to see! This two way exchange is one of the really amazing things about travel!

      Shanna August 3, 2013 at 3:09 pm #
  5. If only we will travel not just to see the sights but also to learn more things about our fellow men from other countries then maybe we could achieve better understanding that might lead to peace (staying hopeful)!

    I agree on everything you have said here and really hoping that one day, all these fighting will end and we all focus our energies in helping one another.
    flipnomad recently posted..How to Stay Aware of Email Frauds while TravelingMy Profile

    flipnomad August 15, 2013 at 9:40 am #
  6. World peace and travel is an interesting thing to think about. I would love to see this work out over time. With the world being more connected as ever, hopefully we can all learn to communicate and share our cultures. Several years back, I did a exchange program for the Hiroshima Peace Program, which was the best experience of my life and let me meet many people from all over the world. World peace and travel totally possible if we open our minds to other cultures.
    Royce’sWorld recently posted..Hotel Loyalty Program Reward ChartsMy Profile

    Royce'sWorld August 25, 2013 at 10:39 am #
    • Making connections with people is such a powerful thing. Hopefully, this web of connections that our technology has allowed with people all over the world will be a good step to bringing us all closer together and getting over our differences. Look at what is happening in the Middle East…people are standing up together for peace and it all started because of the internet…

      Shanna September 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm #
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