Travel Teaches About Nationalism

America, Love It or Leave It

It seems the country is so divided these days. People say if you don’t love the country you should go somewhere else, or “go back where you came from”. Ironically, that kind of statement is very un-American. Just because you don’t agree with what is going on and you speak up about it doesn’t mean you hate America. Quite likely it means you love America and want to see it be better than it already is. If more people traveled, they might get a different perspective.

Eyes opened in the Soviet Union

Just after college I traveled to Europe and spent some time in Finland. Part of that trip was a side trip for a few days to Leningrad in the Soviet Union. (The name has now reverted to St. Petersburg.) I was with a group of students and recent college graduates. They warned us not to bring any anti-Soviet printed material into the country. At the border, Soviet soldiers came on the train to check passports and sometimes check through luggage. One person had a Time magazine and it had a page advertising a bunch of books, each with a picture about an inch by an inch. One of these was a book that was critical of the Soviet Union. The guard tore that little part out of the magazine. We figured he must have been alerted to look for that issue of Time.

The trip organizers told us to be careful what we said because our rooms were likely bugged and that they would be searched when we were out sightseeing. If all of that doesn’t give you an appreciation for the freedom of speech and thought that we have, I don’t know what will. We should not be trying to shut down other viewpoints in the US but instead be encouraging dialogue. As the Germans found, you can too easily fall into a dictatorship that doesn’t allow dissent.

Eyes Opened Further in Poland

While in Finland I met a Polish girl who was an engineering student. (She later managed to get to Canada and is now a professor of engineering there.) After my time in Finland I spent some time in Belgium. While there I got a visa and managed to visit her in Poland for a few days and stay with her family. They generously shared what they had while I was there even though the country was very poor at the time while under Soviet domination.

Almost every night I was there some of her friends came over. We talked until late into the night. It was fascinating hearing about their experiences and debating politics. They longed for the freedoms that we had.

We talked about anything and everything. But then during the day as she showed me the sights, several times she shushed me and said you don’t know who is listening, we will talk about that when we get home. It was like something out of George Orwell’s 1984. That really gets your attention and makes you glad to live in America.

Embrace Our Differences

No one here in the US wants to experience on a daily basis what I saw in the Soviet Union and communist Poland. So please, think before saying America, love it or leave it. Be open to listening to other people. Try listening to different news channels. Just listening to one news channel or news channels that all have the same point of view is just as bad as the controlled media in the Soviet Union.

When I was in the Soviet Union, our two tour guides were speaking in Russian and I heard one use the word Pravda. (It caught my ear because that was the name of the Communist Party newspaper which was known for giving very biased information. In today’s lexicon, it was famous for fake news.) I asked her what pravda meant and she said “truth”. I cracked up laughing that Truth was the name of the newspaper.

So welcome diversity, look for various opinions. Usually one side is not all right and the other is not all wrong. We only make ourselves better by working through our differences and compromising rather than sticking to one ideology. Sticking to rigid ideologies will destroy this great country over time.…

You can travel on a budget

If you think that traveling is just for rich people, then you should think again. This is something that everyone can do. You might need to do a bit more research, and need to make sure that you consider everything before you are traveling on a tight budget, but this is possible to travel on a budget. These are just the things that you should consider to ensure that your experience is going to be great. 

Do your research

The first thing that you should do, is to do research. Make sure that you know what countries and cities are the cheapest to travel to. There are some countries that are really cheaper, and then there are some countries that are really expensive to travel to. Where a tight budget will not work.

This is why you should do research. You should make sure that you are finding a country that won’t be a problem when you have a tight budget that you should consider.

Cheaper accommodation is key

Most of the budget is going to accommodation. And, you really don’t need to have 5-star accommodation in order for you to have while you are traveling. When you have a tight budget, you should consider going cheaper with the budget. To make sure that you have more money left for the more important things.

A four- or three-star hotel will also give you a place to sleep and some amenities. But, you will have more money left to enjoy your trip.

Most countries have great public transport

By making use of private taxi services, you are going to spend a lot of money unnecessary. Most of the countries in the world have great public transport. And, this public transport is a lot cheaper than hiring a private taxi service.

You can also make sure that your accommodation is in the heart of the city, where all the tourist attractions are. Then, you can even walk to everything and you don’t need to pay for transportation. 

You don’t need to have a huge budget in order for you to be able to travel to other countries. You just need to make sure that you know where you can go with a tight budget. Traveling on a tight budget can be just as fun as with an unlimited budget. The only secret is that you should make sure that you plan everything beforehand and that you stick to the plan, no matter what.