Tip Number 2: #nojudgement.
I learned this lesson very early in my travelling life. I was on a school trip to Russia and Estonia in the early ’90s, staying with families in Moscow and St Petersburg and witnessing what daily life was like in Russia. The disparity between my host family and those of some of the other students was eye-opening – not to mention quite confronting – for a sixteen year old.
My family lived on a diet of potatoes, borscht and kidneys; they lived in a modest two-bedroom Soviet-built apartment; they didn’t own a car. Compare that with the host family that a friend of mine lived with: three bodyguards; a fancy black tinted car with their own driver; a palatial apartment; box seats at the Kirov Ballet; caviar with dinner.
Which experience was more “Russian”? Should I have looked at my host family and thought “poor you, you don’t have beluga for breakfast and you have to walk to school”? Should I have compared their life and what they had with what I had at home in Australia?
Not judging what you see and experience when you travel is a vital part of getting the most from your journey. There is nothing wrong with being aware of the differences that exist between your society and the culture and lifestyle of your holiday destination. In fact, this awareness is really important in giving us travellers perspective and an appreciation of what we have and how blessed we are. However, the minute you start judging the clothes that locals are wearing, whether they wear shoes in the house or not, whether they have cable TV or the latest smart phones, or whether they eat rice with their hands or slurp their noodles, then it will be hard for you to fully engage with the amazing opportunity that you have been afforded.
“No Judgement” might mean being open to the simple, nomadic life of a Kenyan villager. It might mean appreciating a weird or wonderful-looking culinary delight at a Bangkok food stall, even if it does resemble a deep-fried cockroach. It might mean being thankful that you’re not wearing your holey socks as you take your shoes off for the umpteenth time in Kyoto. It might mean that you appreciate the vibrant colours and sounds of a Delhi streetscape, ignoring the touts. It might mean trying not to stare at women shopping up a storm in the Dubai Mall wearing head-to-toe burqas, even as your seven year old shouts out “Look Mum, Ninjas!”
“Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.”
– Ralph Crawshaw
“No Judgement” doesn’t mean you have to love everything – it just means that you shouldn’t disregard or pooh-pooh something because it doesn’t match your version of normal.
I thought I’d share some photos with you – no judgement, remember?
Children from a Kenyan Village
A simple meal eaten on the floor – typical dinner served at a Japanese inn.
A different kind of judgement – coach touring is only for oldies!
Locals in Dubai – kandura (robes) and agal (headwear) are typical traditional clothing for men
So remember #nojudgement and try to look upon each travel experience or challenge with an open mind.
x Sonia x