Daphnee Denis starts by saying that “travelling to experience the real essence of a destination whatever it may be, is a self-defeating target.” After reading this opening line I was hit with a surge of questions because I couldn't understand the separation being created here between travelling to experience the real essence of a destination and the self which is of course an essence too . Once again there is a distinction made here that approaches travel as something that you “do” and not as part of your being. Further in her article, she makes different distinctions between terms such as “traveller” and “tourist” but none of it quite resonates with me. These categories and distinctions, all of the differentiations, make travel an isolated experience to some extent.
Here’s an example of how tourists and travellers are being differentiated. Apparently, people prefer to be referred to as travellers as opposed to tourists when visiting a new location. In this dichotomy, the traveller is deemed nobler because they are perceived as integrating more with the place while the latter is a mere consumer of a marketed experience. Denis argues that they are the same. They both visit countries for leisure because they can afford to do so. But ultimately her arguments rest on the fact that in seeking to experience what’s authentic, both end up buying a marketed product so there is no use in seeking to have an authentic experience when visiting a place because such authenticity rarely exists in its truest form as everything we consume is a marketed product. She says much of what we experience is created for us so there is always a performative element to our travel experience. But there is some redemption here for all seeking “an authentic travel experience”. She says that as foreigners we can control how genuine our approach is and the impact of it on the communities that we visit. She concludes by stating that “rather than longing for a reality unknown, real travel is perhaps about coming to terms with the world as it and our own place in it.”
This would all make perfect sense if travel were treated as a verb but to change environments is less about what we do and more about who we are and becoming. A truly authentic travel experience starts within. When one adventures into themselves and creates an internal map to navigate their emotions & well-being. My understanding of travel is such that it is a natural part of who we are. That we seek this movement as a form of adapting the outer world to our inner self. In this regard, it is difficult for me to see how you can experience a place “inauthentically” so long as you are being authentic with yourself. Authenticity isn’t something you should choose to embrace or not, it;s that which we always strive towards, imperfectly we strive towards living, breathing and embracing authenticity with our entire being. So how could it be possible, if you are living in a state of authenticity to travel in any other way?
Travel becomes a part of this honesty with yourself. When you realize what your inner body & soul is trying to communicate, travel may be the answer to listening to this call. Whenever you travel from an inner place first your decisions and interactions with the place itself cannot be harmful. I believe that when we are truly listening to our truth all that we do externally is for a greater purpose & so then the only discovery that needs to be made before embarking on a travel journey, is that of yourself.