Greetings fellow travelers. I'd like to spend a little time reflecting on our attitude when we visit other places. The reason that I think that it's a good thing to do is because of a feeling that I am having when I read some of the travel magazine articles and posts on travel newsgroups. The attitude seems to show itself in the constant use of the term "the locals" when referring to the people who live in the place that the writer has visited. To me, it is a derogatory term that seems to put the traveler in a social class high above anyone he or she has met over the course of his/her travels. Reading or hearing the term makes me react in the same way that I do when someone runs a fingernail on a chalk board. In other words, I mentally shiver.
Let me explain why I react the way that I do. As an undergraduate, I went to university in a small town in Maine in the northeastern part of the USA. Those who went to the university came from various distances away from the town. People who lived in the town were referred to as "townies" and certain assumptions were made about them. "Townies" were assumed to have less of a world view. It was assumed that they had been born there, lived there presently because they had no inclination to experience anything else, and would eventually die in the town in which they had been born. "Townies" were "quaint" and there to be part of the university experience by providing services for those who would be there for a short time before going on to "more important lives". When I read or hear travelers referring to "the locals" I hear the same voice and attitude as those who once talked
about "the townies".
When we travel to other places, we are temporary guests in those places. As guests, I would hope that while we share time together with those who live there we do so with respect. Try to use a bit of their language appropriately, be sensitive to their customs. Most of all, treat them as you would like to be treated, not as a "local". Personally, I have found that if you travel with this attitude people more openly extend their hospitality to you. If this happens, your travels are a richer experience. We should also keep in mind that each and every one of us is "a local" somewhere.
Thank you for visiting, feel free to stop again. If you'd like, I'd be very interested in hearing your views on travel and attitudes. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.