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Posted by on May 22, 2012 | 15 comments

Is it worth it to travel to that country?

As you guys know, I recently returned home from more than two weeks in El Salvador and Honduras.

Before the trip, I communicated my intentions to several friends.  Some of them were happy for me and wished me a happy trip.  Others gave me a nervous smirk and blurted an insincere: “Cool”.  In that case the word “cool”, in conjunction with all the facial gestures, was a synonym of “What the hell are you going to do there?”  One lady even asked me why my husband was forcing me to visit his family (he is from El Salvador).  I explained I wanted to go.  With a perplexed expression, she asked me if I was scared.  I said no.

Sunset in Sukhothai

 

I get the situation.  When you are announcing vacations plans, it seems like everybody is expecting to hear about “dream destinations”.  I mean who doesn’t want to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, the Parthenon or Angkor Wat.  New York, San Francisco, London and Sydney are some of the most popular cities in the world.  Others are interested in natural wonders such as the Iguazu Falls, the Alps or the Cappadocia landscape.  I would love to visit all those places.  I admit I often read about the hottest destinations or the next “it” places.  However, there is something I have learned throughout my travels.

Don’t be so quick to judge.

In this case, I am referring to judging a country, state or area for the number of appearances it makes in glossy magazines.  Or banning a place from my I-want-to-visit list because it is portrayed in the media as too dangerous.  I know better than that.

I am addressing this topic because too often I hear travelers debating if it is worth visiting a country or not.  The exact words they use are the following: “That country has nothing to offer”. Don’t think this is something I have heard from occasional travelers.  Travel bloggers, writers and experts seem to be the ones who like to make this statement more often.

I understand you may not

  • Like a place after visiting
  • Feel attracted by certain country
  • Or are just swamped by all the places you want to visit

But what I don’t get is why there are some who advice not to waste time and money in certain places.  This is why I differ from that line of thought.

First, it is important to differentiate between the realities and offerings of a country. You cannot a say a place is “worthless” because of poverty, poor infrastructure, crime, social unrest or corruption.  A lot of the world’s most famous sights are within the limits of countries experiencing numerous problems.  The social and political situations may obscure certain wonders but you will find out how thousands get to visit every year.

Piece of graffiti addressing social issues

 

Another aspect is related to the beauty of this planet.  Have you noticed the gorgeous landscapes we can enjoy throughout the world?  I can’t believe there is one country in this planet that does not share some of this awesome beauty.  I have witnessed incredible splendor everywhere I have been.  I have seen it in the form of volcanoes, forests, plains, beaches and sunsets.

Izalco Volcano, El Salvador

 

But let’s say a country is barren and shock full of ailments.  What about the people who live there?  Are you telling me there are thousands of people who share a unique history /culture and you think they have nothing to offer you?   When I think of my best travel moments, locals are always involved.  The way they smiled or greeted me.  The food they cooked.  The stories they shared.  The things they thought me about their culture.  The time they invited me to their house.  People are the ultimate reason I travel.  I want to share laughs, conversations and points of view with them.  Because I respect them, I cannot say their country is worthless.

People depositing their offerings

 

You have the right to decide what places you want to visit. But if you truly love this planet and the people who live on it, please take this topic into consideration.

Don’t talk if you haven’t visited a country.

Don’t talk if you visited a country for one or two days and believe you are an expert.

Don’t talk if you only visited a region of a country.

Don’t talk if you believe everything the media says.

Don’t talk if you didn’t meet and talk to the people, the ones that really make up a country.

Lastly, spread the word if you visited an off the beaten path location and had a blast.  I have showed some photos of my recent trip to my friends and have to say they are surprised.

What is your opinion on this topic? I would love to read your comments.

15 Comments

  1. I love this post! So true what you’ve said. I haven’t been to Honduras, but I did visit El Salvador for several days. I got a similar reaction from certain people I knew. Turns out my time there was really enjoyable.

    When I went to the Middle East, some people were terrified/horrified that I was going. Turns out–it was one of my best trips. Also–I felt safer there than anywhere. Wild, right?

    PS: I like your final point a lot…”Spread the word if you visited an off the beaten path location and had a blast.” Totally!
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..Indonesia, Here I Come: Why I’m Going and What I’ll Be DoingMy Profile

    • Lisa,
      Thanks for sharing about the places you have visited. I really enjoy when people take the plunge and visit places outside the confort zone. I understand when you say your trip to the Middle East turned out to be one of the best. And thanks for sharing all your amazing experiences in your blog.
      Ruth recently posted..Is it worth it to travel to that country?My Profile

    • Jan,
      I have had some thoughts like that. One time I visited Myanmar (from Thailand) for a day. A lot of unpleasant and weird things happened but I can’t really say anything about the country because I barely scratched the surface.
      Ruth recently posted..Is it worth it to travel to that country?My Profile

  2. Great article, Ruth. I get the same thing from people all the time when I tell them a destination and they ask why I’m going there…usually something like “do you have family there?” And I’m answering, no…I just want to see what the place is like.

    Great note about the locals, too. I find that the people I meet are the biggest highlight of any trip.
    Darryl Musick recently posted..FIELDS OF DREAMS: Chase Field, Phoenix, ArizonaMy Profile

  3. Great post, Ruth. I couldn’t agree more. Pretty much every country has its own unique history, sights, and cultures worth seeing. Recently I saw an episode of “Globe Trekkers” and they went to Syria, a country I never even thought of as a tourist destination. I had no idea the amount of ancient ruins that were there. (Although now is definitely not the best time to see them.)
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..More Fun With Travel AppsMy Profile

    • I love to watch shows like the one you mentioned. Yesterday, I saw one about bushmen living in the Kalahari Desert. It is incredible to see how they live. I don’t know if I will be able to visit such remote places but I believe you can bond with locals anywhere.
      Ruth recently posted..Is it worth it to travel to that country?My Profile

  4. Really great post and one that I agree with whole heartedly! I even had a similar response when I was going to a conference in Cincinnati. Who wants to go to Cincinnati? I had a fabulous time and loved Cincinnati 😉 So you just never know what jewel you’re going to find until you get there. I believe, as you do, that you can always find something amazing to do and see in any country or state. Google helps a lot as do all the wonderful travel blogs!
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Italy, Czech Republic & Craft BeerMy Profile

  5. So, so true Ruth! Part of the glory of traveling is exploring something new (to you), so I think it’s important for people to have an open mind and embrace that aspect. For me personally, I get a huge amount of enjoyment from discovering the ins and outs of a new culture — and thankfully the planet is full of amazing and diverse cultures I can learn about. 🙂 It’s not all just about Eiffel Towers and Mayan Ruins.
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Angkor Wat in PhotosMy Profile

  6. Great post! We had a similar experience with Egypt; people are quick to judge Cairo after the violence of last year but our writers found it a positive experience. And it’s true what you say: people really are the ultimate reason to travel.
    Megan recently posted..It’s Presidential Election Day in Egypt!My Profile

  7. Very good points. I find that the more I learn about places, the more I want to go. Some places I may not have ever cared about visiting but the more I learn, the more I am intrigued. You are absolutely right that it’s the people that make a place worth visiting. Even seeing the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre isn’t enough if you don’t experience a little of the culture in France.

    You don’t have to like every place you visit but you can always leave a place with an appreciation for something.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Airline complaints: an open letter to US airlinesMy Profile

  8. Love this post and totally agree with everything in it! I share your frustration upon hearing negative comments regarding a choice of destination. I’ve been to 30 + countries and have yet to even go major destinations like UK, France, or Spain, but the further off the beaten path (or Off the Map, as you will), the more I tend to enjoy the adventure.

    It’s not just about the sights, it’s about the experience!
    Sara @ Off The Map Travels recently posted..OffTheMaptravel: Go Brooklyn! "@amandahesser: LA friend coming to NY asked for restaurant recs; later realized all the recs I gave were in Brooklyn."My Profile

  9. I agree with everything you say. I have visited Honduras and Nicaragua and most people’s first reaction to hearing that is a scrunched up face and a puzzled, “Why?”

    Both countries were beautiful. In fact, I’ve visited most countries in Central America now and anticipate those trips even more than going to Europe. There’s something there that draws me, but I would have never known that if I hadn’t gone.

  10. Awesome post. Reminds me of some responses I get for spending 4 years in China. Or even the process of convincing my mom that my parents should take a trip to Malaysia with me (I did convince them, and they loved it).
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Mermaids on ParadeMy Profile

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