You’ve likely heard the term ‘travel inspiration’ a million times. But what is it really?
While sitting in a local Bali cafe recently, I watched as locals descended in droves to the beach, late on a Sunday afternoon. I was chatting to the waitress as she delivered my icy watermelon juice asking why all of a sudden the beach was so popular. She replied that it’s family time for locals. Late weekend afternoons when the weather cooled, hundreds would descend to the beach, playing soccer and joyfully frolicking in the sea.
Hawkers moved away from the ‘tourists’ laying in their sunbeds attempting to reading their novels with heavy eyes, and instead carried enormous quantities of inflatable floatation devices in the forms of every type of animal and creature you can imagine. Kids love them and the sea becomes very colourful with lime green octopus, bright yellow rings, even a pink flamingo. Parents and grandparents watched their kids with eagle eyes, as every now and then they would race back to them to grab a drink, or fix their pants which had become heavy with sand.
And there are no swim suits. No designer bikinis, shiny sun umbrellas, Louis Vuitton towels – in fact no towels at all. Swimmers plunged into the sea in t-shirts and shorts, some even in jeans. Basically the clothes they had they arrived in, although some did a quick change under a sarong to dry off.
Then there’s the lovers. Young Balinese boys sitting close on the sand with pretty girls as they laugh and chat and eat ice blocks. Watching them try to impress each other in a language I couldn’t understand was rather hypnotising.
In a small pavilion next to me, young girls aged between around 5 and 13 listened and watched their instructor intently as they learned the intricacies of Balinese dance, which no doubt would be performed eventually for tourists or an important traditional ceremony, but dance remains an integral part of local culture. It’s not just for tourists.
I was watching real Bali life unfold before me. Not the brochures, resort life or arranged performances. It wasn’t staged for visitors and their cameras. There were no hawkers trying to sell me sarongs, fans or even enormous knives that would never get through customs anyway.
Taking in the reality of local lives teaches you a lot. We’re all the same, but different, which is not groundbreaking news to most of us, but we seem to regularly forget this vital fact. Parents love their children. Family time is important. Tradition is an important, yet natural state of being in all countries.
In the travel industry, our job is to inspire you to travel. Inspire you to discover something new. New destinations, experiences, places to stay. That’s our job. But sometimes I think we’re missing something crucial. Just one word.
Travel IS inspiration.
Understanding the value of appreciating our differences is the great lesson of travelling. And not in a material way, but rather appreciating that we’re all just human. And no matter where you go, we’ve all got that in common. What’s important to you, is important to everyone else. Especially once you remove the environment you’re so used to living in.
That IS inspiring. Taking those lessons back home with you and holding tight to the desire to discover more differences in this great world of ours, erases pointless negativity, moaning and groaning.
Travel IS inspiration. Do it often.