Americans are traveling more than any other period in history. According to the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, 30.7 million people traveled overseas from the US. An additional 37.5 million traveled within the North American continent to Canada and Mexico. That means a total of 68.3 million Americans left the country in 2014. That’s an increase of nearly 8 million people from 2013’s 61.5 million people. This increase in wanderlust is a positive trend. Travel increases educational opportunities, empathy for other cultures, understanding of world issues, and appreciation for landmarks and history. There are innumerable statistics supporting the value of travel and exploration. People are getting out and exploring, now it’s important they make the most of their journey.
Be a traveler, not a tourist
There are many different reasons why people travel – to build relationships, to adventure, to vacate, for education, for the challenge, to try new food, see fascinating places, and to prove to yourself you can.
When you travel, remember these valuable reasons for the journey. Take the time to go beyond the iconic tourist destinations. Instead explore the places the locals treasure. Ask them for their top restaurants, best trails, favorite beaches. The real purpose of travel is to learn, discover, and meet the people. It’s not to check landmarks off your list.
Where the Hell is Matt?
Matt Harding, traveler and Internet celebrity, exhibits this goal. He first became known in 2006 for his infamous “Where the Hell is Matt” videos. Matt became an online sensation when he traveled around the world with the sponsorship of Stride gum. His 2006 video depicts Matt performing the same dance in front of well-known iconic landmarks in each location he visits. Watching any of his videos is a great lesson in geography. The 2006 video alone shows Matt in 36 different locations. His 2012 video has 78.
More important than the landmarks, however, are the people. Matt used the Internet to organize people, encouraging them to join his dance in each location. Matt now has five videos and two outtakes on his webpage. His 2008 video has been watched more than 43.7 million times on youtube. Clearly, his travels and the people have caught our attention. His three most popular videos, released in 2006, 2008, and 2012, show the progression of Matt’s discoveries and learning. His 2006 video depicts Matt dancing by himself at famous landmarks in each area. In the 2008 video people in each location join his dance. By the 2012 video, he reaches the finale. Once again in this video, he is traveling to new locations, he is joining the people in each location in their style of dance. The progression is worth viewing. To see his 2006, 2008, and 2012 videos see below!
Matt Harding has traveled more than most people will ever have the opportunity to emulate. In his travels he has done more than visit landmarks, he has made connections with the people, and he has shared those connections with the rest of the world. Before you travel, take the time to view these videos, and remember the real value of a vacation – learn, discover, and meet the people.
Be a traveler, not a tourist.
Where the Hell is Matt (2006)
Where the Hell is Matt (2008)
Where the Hell is Matt (2012)