Cheap and Easy Travel: Vicarious Travel
Travel Vicariously by Teaching English as a Second Language or Hosting Foreigners
Travel: everyone talks about it, but with regards to many cultures and numerous countries, travel is simply not a reality, for 2 or 3 major reasons. Just ask an American, for instance, what he or she thinks about travel. Better still, mention a country like Greece, and that American’s eyes will widen, the mouth will purse and say “ooh! I really want to go there!” Yet that person, most likely, will never go to Greece. First, let’s examine why some people, Americans initially, don’t travel. After, we will examine how anyone can “travel” from the confines of their own home or workplace.
One of the reasons that Americans don’t travel is that the United States is such a large country that there is plenty to see and do within the confines of that singular nation. As well, many Americans simply don’t see the point in travel outside of their national borders.
Further, for political reasons, it’s sometimes best that Americans (and others of other nations) not travel too extensively, or at very least, that they be selective as to where they go. An example of this that I am reminded of is of a group of folks who were visiting Egypt about 6 years ago, and were gunned down in cold blood, as the assassin thought this group to be Israelis. Oddly enough, they weren’t Israelis or even Jewish, but that didn’t protect them. Thus, even misperceptions can harm some groups.
Finally, a great reason for many people not to travel is a lack of money. This is not to say that they simply don’t have the money to travel this year, but often, they will never have the money to visit another land. I speak here of the vast majority of the world, who will never have the ability to travel as necessities, vice luxuries, consume their paychecks. Such are places like India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Panama, and even within the United States and other so-called “first world” nations.
Whatever the reasons, there is a special way to travel, without leaving the comfort of your hometown: this is vicarious travel. When we “travel” in this means, we board a plane, land in exotic, far-away lands, are met by beautiful, friendly, sun-soaked faces, and are whisked all about islands, isthmuses, and peninsulas; we scuba down into the bluest of waters to view endangered coral reefs where brightly colored clown fish and even dangerous barracudas dwell; we dive from the highest rocks next to waterfalls into deep, pristine pools; we traverse across deserts to view rare lizards sunning themselves on ancient rocks in lands where only Bedouins dare come. When we travel vicariously, we do all this in our minds as drums beat in the background, accompanied by the narrative words of others who’ve swum, run, and danced to these actualities.
It is the narrative “dance” of the traveler telling her tale to those who would listen, be it around a campfire in Tahiti or within a warm kitchen in Dharamsala, Sydney, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, that sets the background for the great tales like Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” and which continues to amuse and educate thousands across the globe even today.
Yet, while travelers are able to amuse and entertain people in far-away lands, the opposite may also be accomplished. A person from California, for instance, can easily experience the world through the tales of others, without ever leaving the borders of that great state. The two forms of vicarious travel that come immediately to mind are via teaching ESL and by hosting foreign students, either in a home or by opening a youth hostel.
To teach ESL, or English as a Second Language in places like the EU nations and Japan, takes the very minimum requirement of a baccalaureate (bachelor’s) degree, though having a certification also helps, as does experience in any form of teaching. There are numerous ESL schools to be found, and probably one is not far from your home. Or, if not, consider opening such a school, as this is a field which itself is opening wider with each new day.
For those less inclined towards teaching but still desirous of meeting people from around the world, consider hosting foreign students. This can be facilitated by contacting a local language school, such as one that specializes in ESL, as they are always seeking host families, as are high schools that sponsor foreign exchange programs. Another option for the business-minded is opening a youth hostel. There are numerous hostel organizations around the world, notably Hostelling International, for instance, which will steer you in the right direction as to parameters towards creating a good business that will aid weary travelers.
In each of these scenarios you will meet hundreds, even thousands of people from all around the globe and from numerous walks of life, including exceptionally fine people from your own country. Getting to know these folks is as easy as setting up a bar, dining room, or other social setting where you can sit down and have a chat. Often such talks will be the beginning of lifelong friendships, or even romances that only conclude within a never-ending sunset. Bon voyage!