T ravel with an
o pen mind and
t h ink globally
By Rick Steves
F OR MANY PEOPLE, the critical question nowadays is “How can we make
o urselves safer in the world?” I think we’d be safer by better understanding
o ur world. A great first step is to travel—thoughtfully.
Thoughtful travel—becoming a “temporary local” to really get a break
f rom our cultural norms—shows us how the world sees us. My travels have
t aught me that people around the world are inclined to like citizens from
o ther countries, even though they often disagree with their governments.
Though many people travel, millions more don’t venture out to see or
e xperience the world. Many do not hold a passport. Many of them have world-
views based on little more than TV news. Travel gives us a firsthand look at
t he complexity and struggles of the rest of the world, enabling us to digest
n ews coverage more smartly.
Travel helps us celebrate, rather than fear, diversity. On a trip through
Afghanistan, I was eating lunch in a Kabul cafeteria. An older man joined me
with his lunch, intent on making one strong point. He said, “I am a professor
here in Afghanistan. In this world, one-third of the people use a spoon and
fork like you, one-third use chopsticks and one-third use fingers, like me. And
we are all civilized.”
Whether seeing the sights in Spain, sampling cheese in London or cycling
through Amsterdam, gaining a better understanding of the world can help create
better, stronger and safer societies for us all, says travel expert Rick Steves.