Take a Page Out Of Anthony Bourdain’s Book: Travel and Grow
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” — Anthony Bourdain.
I love this quote. I think about travel the same way as Mr. Bourdain — Tony, as I like to call him. I loved watching Anthony Bourdain’s shows. They inspired me to go travelling and to try new things. I even got a tattoo on my forearm in the same style as his. If I could pick my dream job, whatever Tony’s job was would be pretty close to it. He was right; travelling does change you. It changes you for the better.
I love all parts of that quote…
Travel definitely isn’t always pretty, and in fact, it can be downright dangerous sometimes. But there lies the beauty and intrigue of travelling: the journey is the most important part, and it’s not all candy and roses. There are long lines, rules and regulations, crazy cab rides, rip-offs, scams, bad food, theft, violence, and a million other things that could happen that don’t happen to us every day. Tony knew the danger and ugliness of the world; he embraced it and chased it. Why? Because at the end of the day, when you have gotten to where you wanted to get to, and you have survived the journey, you are a better and stronger person for it.
I never liked travelling in comfort, either. First-class, hotel suites (or hotels in general for that matter), fine-dining, etc., never resonated with me. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really had the money for those types of luxuries. I can’t rule out the possibility of loving the high life of travelling because I have never really done it before. However, for right now, being uncomfortable when travelling is perfect for me. Motels, hostels, bunk beds, sleeping bags, shared bathrooms, earplugs, cheap flights. Tony Bourdain knew being uncomfortable is part of the game. He even had all the money in the world, and he still wanted to eat, sleep, and drink with the locals where they lived, on their level. That was his gift. Well, one of his many gifts.
Try to be like Tony and eat, sleep, and explore where the locals do. By venturing farther from your comfort zone, you’ll have a more amazing trip.
Being uncomfortable doesn’t just mean not having the creature comforts of home. It also means not being able to speak everyone else's language, nor know all of their customs to not make a total fool of oneself — and be totally cool with it. Tony knew that as well, and he loved it. It’s called humility, and if you want to be a good traveller, you need to find your humility.
When I travel, I always try to speak the language of wherever I am, however little that may be. Local people will respect you more if you at least attempt to speak in their language. They are not idiots. They know you aren’t from there, but a little effort goes a long way in terms of showing respect. You don’t want to be a loud ignoramus shouting English at someone who doesn’t speak it, and frankly, they aren’t required to speak your language as you are in their country. I can’t believe I have to say that, but every time I travel, there is always someone who thinks everyone else should bend to their will. Tony always had translators and guides, and he was always respectful of the language and customs of whichever country he was in.
Humility. The world doesn’t revolve around you, especially when you are travelling through it. Remember that. Tony did.
Travelling does change you. Absolutely it does. How? It makes you a better person. And I don’t mean travelling as in a “we are travelling to Disneyland and Palm Springs” type of way. I mean travelling as in going to a place outside your comfort zone and learning new ideas. That is how travelling changes you — it creates new ideas and experiences for you to learn from. In short: you grow.
When you go travelling for any length of time, you should be different when you return home. You should have a greater appreciation for how people live, a new respect for people’s beliefs, and a new lease on life. I certainly did.
Depending on where you travel to, the people who live there will be living in very different ways than you probably do, especially in poorer countries. Does that make you better than them? (Humility, remember.) No! It makes them different than you. Different is good. And they don’t think of themselves as poor. They are simply living their lives, just like you, only different. This is an idea that you can hopefully bring back home with you: you are not better than anyone, just different.
And different is good. Tony knew this, and he displayed it wonderfully in all of his shows. He knew that different is good and different is beautiful and different should be celebrated. He was right.
We should all try to take a page out of Tony’s playbook: go travelling, talk to people, learn about how they live, respect and celebrate their way of life, and bring your newfound attitude back home and spread it around.
The world could use more people like Anthony Bourdain. He will be missed.
Luckily for all of us, Tony left us hours of tape of him enjoying, sampling and celebrating his travels. Check out his shows: A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown. There is also a new documentary about Anthony Bourdain just out called: Roadrunner.
Watch, learn, and be inspired to see the world and grow yourself into a better person through your travels. You will absolutely take something with you, and I hope you will leave something good behind.