On my way to work this morning I was thinking about what else I can do with Footprints and Memories other than post news and stories about travel. I thought about the quote I’ve based the website on – “take only memories, leave nothing but footprints” – and really considered what it means to travellers.
I originally interpreted the message to be one that is relevant to respect. Respecting those who you visit and never try to change them. Take memories of your time spent on your travels, don’t take away other’s treasures and objects; and as you leave, don’t leave your bad habits, rubbish and your own way of doing things behind.
However today’s travel scene has changed. As the world gets smaller and we become more aware of other cultures and ways of life, it is likely that when travelling we’ll be inclined to take more than just memories with us.
For example, recipes.
I love collecting recipes of foods eaten around the world. My last trips to Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Bangkok were lined up with cooking classes. I loved learning about how different cultures come up with their cuisines and the use of the same ingredients can result in so many different flavours. The stacks of recipes I gathered from these classes are kept on my bookshelf along with all other cakes and stew recipes, and they now form a familiar repertoire to my dinner routines.
I also collect good habits. It’s not something everyone collects, but for me, travelling is about learning and there are so many instances when I’ve been inducted into the ways of doing things in other countries that made me think “that’s a really good idea, why don’t we do it at home?”
I spent a year in Germany in 2003, where the practice of bringing your own bags to shops is a norm. Walking into a shop without your own recyclable bag in tow often gained you a frown from the shop keepers and fellow shoppers. I thought it was a brilliant idea and saw the benefit of this practice so I brought it home with me as my own shopping habit. In 2003, Australia hasn’t yet adopted the green bags and I was really happy when it finally did a year later.
Learning about value is another thing I take home with me. Meeting people along the way and knowing that there are many others out there living without a lot of the luxuries we call ‘need’ in our lives is something that without travel you’ll never truly experience. Knowing the definition of ‘need’ and ‘want’ has definitely improved the way I see my own life.
As for leaving more than footprints, I’d like to think I left my friendship with those I’ve met in different parts of the world, and that I have left as much an impression as they had on me.
Travel can change our lives, in a way that we adopt to new methods and learn each other’s good habits. As much as there are many things and practices that are ‘cultural’ there are also many ‘common sense’ that I’ve never thought of until I’ve experienced it. We travel to learn, and taking more than memories with us may not be a bad idea after all.
What have you learned on your travels? Care to share in comments below?
Read more on this topic: What travel can teach you