How Soon Until Travel Experiences Are About as “Real” as Reality TV?

We travel for many reasons. Business. Relaxation. To visit family.

But aside from when we are traveling solely for business, I contend that the main reason we travel is to experience.

We want to see things we can’t normally see. Taste things we don’t normally taste. Talk to people we wouldn’t normally talk to.

In short, we want to immerse ourselves in the extraordinary.

Sometimes we do this by indulging in opulent luxury. But just as often, if not more so, we do this by visiting a place where the people aren’t as well off as we are. This is particularly true if you are based in the U.S. or Western Europe – as so few places in the world are as well off as we are.

All of this raises a very interesting point – while we would all likely agree it would be ideal if everyone could achieve a level of wealth that would allow them a degree of comfort and safety, what would that mean for us as travelers? dcpublius considers this very point in reply to a thread in which City-Data members discuss whether they think developing countries will attain wealth in the near future:

…in developing countries, things are moving _fast_. Already many cultures are disappearing. … A lot of the things some countries are famous for are almost exclusively done for tourists in 2014, as a spectacle for the tourist dollar – not as part of their real daily lives.


Personally, I want to see as much of these places before they all look like a typical New Jersey suburb with strip malls.


…they are developing fast enough to get to the point where their uniqueness disappears. You end up traveling to some very remote places, only to see people watching American reality TV shows on their TVs, listening to US/Euro music on their smartphones, driving Toyotas and Honda scooters, and following US news and Manchester United.


The differences are disappearing fast. It’s good for the world, it’s good for development, but as a traveler who wants to see something new, the allure is disappearing as well.

Have we already reached a point where witnessing a cormorant fisherman do his thing in China, or a Maasai tribe conducting an Eunoto ceremony, is the equivalent of watching a hula dancer perform in Hawaii, or a blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg?

What do you think about both the possibility of developing countries reaching a level of wealth on par with developed nations, and what that would mean to your travels? Are you, like dcpublius, feeling a need to rush to see things before all of the differences are sanded away?

Read the thread in its entirety: Have you visited 3rd World Countries? Do you believe they will be rich countries soon?

Image: “Another wave of monks comes by” by shankar s. CC BY 2.0.

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