“To travel is to live”
- H.C. Andersen
I’ve chosen the topic of travelling because it is one of the things you miss as a refugee or asylum seeker. Since time immemorial humans have never sat still; there are many reasons: climate change, lack of food or just a bad neighbourhood, maybe it's just one of the laws of evolution or one of the components of our human nature that make people move.
The Cambridge dictionary defines travelling as “the activity of making journeys”. We know traditional kinds of travelling and alternative kinds of traveling. Since the mid 20th century, due to the rapid development of tourism, the term "travel" has come to signify any visits in some way independent of a travel company, in contrast to “tourism”, which we tend to associate with package holidays.
The World organization UNESCO defines tourists as people who “travel to, and stay in places, outside their usual environment for more than twenty-four hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”.
Many types of tourism
Sex tourism is when people travel in search for sexual adventures and to, fulfill their sexual fantasies for which they may be criminally prosecuted in their own countries. Sex tourism includes domestic sex tourism, which is travel within the same country, or sex tourism on an international scale, which is happening mainly in the Third World. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports an international workforce estimated in millions. It has been argued by some people that sex tourism benefits not only the sex industry but also the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries.
Extreme tourism: people go to all corners of the globe to find challenges which, stimulate the adrenaline. It is a niche in the travel industry involving travel to dangerous places like jungles, caves, deserts or high mountains and forests or participation in dangerous events. Extreme tourism overlaps with extreme sports. The two share the main attraction of an “adrenaline rush" caused by an element of risk and differing mostly in the degree of engagement and professionalism. For example, jumps from airplanes, diving in the cold places, or travelling into the post nuclear infected Chernobyl zone. Extreme tourism is a growing business in many countries where the mountains and rugged terrain have developed into a popular extreme tourism locations.
Ecotourism: people go to relax in private small hotels and private houses, where everything is environmentally friendly, towards the air, water, food, and everything else. Ecotourism usually involves traveling to protected areas that strive to be low impact and small scale (as an alternative to mass tourism). Its purpose is to educate the traveller and to provide funds for natural and ecological projects, which directly benefit the economy of the country. Since the 1980s environmentalists have considered ecotourism an important endeavour, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention.
Travel for religious purposes. Travelling to see the holy artifacts, to visit holy places started in the Middle Ages and was called the "pilgrimage". The first trip, which was notated, is Jews wandering in desert under the leadership of Moses for 40 years.
Travel for exploration. In about 400 BC Herodotus, a scientist and writer, accompanied Alexander of Macedon in his war campaigns and discovered and described new lands.
Conquest and trade
The next generation of travellers were the Vikings - early medieval Scandinavian mariners in the VIII-XI centuries. They travelled by sea from Vinland to Biarmiya and from the Caspian Sea to North Africa. They were free peasants, who lived in the territory that is now modern Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Over-population was the push that made them leave home in search of easy money and loot. There was real evidence that they were first people to reach the shores of America.
After that, European nobles killed boredom by travelling and participating in holy wars in Palestine.
Another classic example of travel of the Middle Ages - is the wanderings of Marco Polo
(1254 - 1324), a Christian merchant from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in a book called EL Millio. His team returned after 24000 km and 24 years of adventures, but unfortunately without him.
Christopher Columbus (1451- 1506) was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in northwestern Italy. Under the authorities of the Spanish monarchy, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages initiated the process of colonization. During the first voyage in 1492 Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of the spreading of the Christian religion and finding a new trade territory.
Never realising that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, rather than the East Indies he had set out for, Columbus called the population of the lands he visited “indigos” (Spanish for "Indians"). However, Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas. He had been preceded five centuries earlier by the Vikings led by Leif Ericsson, who established a short-lived colony on Vinland, what is now Newfoundland.
Another great traveller was Magellan, a Portuguese voyager. Magellan's expedition of 1519-1522 became the first expedition to discover the Pacific Ocean and was the first that circumnavigated the globe. But, contrary to popular belief, Magellan himself was not the first person who travelled around the globe because he was killed on the way in the Philippines. The first person to actually travel around the world was his Malaysian servant, Enrique.
Until the 19th century, travel was a major source of information about other countries (their nature, population, and history, economy) and about nature and contours of the earth's surface.
Beware your destination
Nowadays, we can travel using cars, trains and airplanes. But new technologies do not protect from unforeseen circumstances. Travel has become dangerous and you must be cautious when choosing a place to visit.
In many countries there is political instability, crime and natural disasters. We can remember the tsunami in Indonesia and what happened last summer in Egypt to make real the worst nightmares of Steven Spielberg.
The next level of travel is "personal spaceflight." Space Tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The planet Earth is the cradle of mankind, but every child out grows its cradle. Orbital space tourism opportunities are limited and expensive and only the Russian Space Agency provides transport.
The price for a flight by Space Adventures to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft now is USD 20-35 million. Some space tourists have signed contracts with other companies to provide certain research while in orbit. A number of start-up companies have sprung upon recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry.
The USA has made a new Shuttle spaceship that will will cost only half a million USD for a trip. in 2010 Russia marked the importance of orbital space tourism and increased the size of the International Space Station, making the extra space for more crew and tourists. Up to now 8 people have visited space for tourist purposes.
What’s next? Maybe mind travelling using modern technologies as in James Cameron’s “Avatar”?
No tourism for me!
I personally prefer another kind of travel - travelling without fundamental services of a travel agency - what’s called backpacking. Its wildlife and fresh air that attract me. I don’t want to exchange this for any seven star hotels. There is nothing better than to sit in the evening by the campfire with friends under the huge starry sky and fresh food from an open fire cannot be compare with the most expensive delicatessens.
And at the end, a couple of thoughts about the modern situation where more and more people are travelling and where globalization is the cornerstone of every country’s development. It seems ironic that governments still isolate their countries from each other. Travelling is made difficult with visa requirements, passports and border controls. Witness the recent situation between Italy and France and between Germany and Scandinavians. Where will it lead and what will it mean for travellers?
Asylum and the law
New Times Magazines
Newsletter Sign Up