The Crossroads of Travel and Materialism

by Keith Savage · 51 comments

Post image for The Crossroads of Travel and Materialism

You’re thinking about selling everything and traveling the world, aren’t you?

Those impulses often seem to go hand in hand. As Richard Todd put it in The Thing Itself, “there is a freedom in the kind of spending that leaves no trace, burdens us with nothing.” Ah, it’s one of those delicious sentences that makes so much sense when you read it. It feels like a changing of the guard, a backlash to the material acquisition that dominates our culture. That, or maybe it’s just the practical thing to do. After all, those things can’t look after themselves. Are we stuck with a choice of extremes?

Todd goes on to suggest that rather than being a materialistic society, we actually hate our things. I can see it now: we glare at their tawdry plastic shells and wish for them to degrade and fall apart, because we’re more addict than owner. We revel in the powerful act–the rush–of purchasing, not the weighty responsibility of ownership and maintenance. And the system of commerce built around this compulsion is more than happy to keep silent and support our habit. Some get rich, many go broke, and the vast remainder is content to operate inside the social contract. We might be a materialistic society, but we are bad materialists. We throw away so we can buy again. Good materialists look after their things, keep them in good repair, and value their long useful lives.

The quote above resonates with me and what must be hundreds of travelers I’ve met who’ve dumped all their worldly goods on the auction block (or street curb, as it may be) so they could travel the world. Over and over again, these folks speak of a lightness of being, of freedom, of agility, like a balloon drifting among clouds, no basket or hand to hold it down. They’ve reduced their possessions to what can fit in a couple of backpacks. They’ve rejected solace in things. Somewhere, Tyler Durden is grinning.

While Todd sees eating at restaurants as the primary expression of our culture’s fascination with a spending that leaves no trace, I immediately thought of travel. Is it not the ultimate kind of spending that burdens us with nothing? Put down the Venetian masks, please. Similarly, foodies focus on the transient, exchanging money for consumables marked only by empty containers and dirty cartons. Is it any coincidence that travelers and foodies are often one and the same? Are avid travelers, like those who’ve sold everything, beyond the yoke of materialism?

The Best Things in Life

Meanwhile, as I pondered this train of thought, The New Inquiry published a provocative article on travel as collecting. It argued that we ultimately use the act of collection to defeat the impermanence of life. Interesting, I like that. And later on the author mentions that “chronicling, like acquisition, is a failed defense against impermanence.” We blog, upload Flickr albums, craft moving videos, purchase souvenirs, collect passport stamps – all these actions are the symbolic bronzing of the intangible, the materialization of experience. Our blogs are like shelves lined with firefly-filled jars. In this way, even those travelers dashing around the globe with oh-so-light packs seemingly show the stain of materialism.

So now I’m utterly conflicted in the middle of the crossroads. How was I to reconcile Todd’s insight that we seek unburdening transactions, which I interpret as travel here, and The New Inquiry’s assertion that traveling is collecting, the willful burdening of materialized experience by chronicling? Pass the aspirin please.

I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a materialist as I’ve described it above. In fact, I somewhat agree with Todd’s point that we hate our things (I think ‘resent’ is a better word). There’s a coldness and carelessness in the way we approach physical items today. How often have you replaced something over the most minor defect or detail? Once that coldness is in us, it spreads into other realms. Speed traveling from place to place, barely giving yourself a breath of the local air, is akin.

The underlying current seems to be about lack of respect and lack of appreciation. It’s about over-consumption.

These days I seem to see it everywhere I look: the heart-attack-on-standby Adam Richman in Man vs. Food, the unfathomable amount of oil we’ve cleaved to our livelihoods, the reeking mountains of waste that dot our countryside and foul our senses. People, we have a continent-sized island of floating trash in the Pacific that is pretty much beyond comprehension.

While chronicling our travels in blogs, scrapbooks, photo albums, or cheesy montages might not win the battle against impermanence, it is a deliberate and respectful treatment of the travel experience. It’s an exercise in memory design aimed at retaining cherished memories in high resolution, and I see everything right in that.

What should you do if you find yourself at this crossroads? Choosing the right path at an individual level is simple: slow down, question your behavior, and treat “items” with care and respect, least of all callous indifference. We’re not selling everything so I can travel. In fact, we’re not selling anything. But we are taking a hard look at new purchases, harder than we’ve ever taken before. Maybe the reason people feel so great when they sell all of their possessions is that they’ve unburdened themselves of those things they knew they shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

I think somewhere, Tyler Durden is riding delirious circles on his kid’s bike and laughing his approval.

Have you sold everything in preparation for your travels? Will you buy it all back when you return home? Which path will you choose at the crossroads?

Original photos by arimoore and lamazone via Flickr under Creative Commons

HenwayNo Gravatar November 5, 2010 at 10:26 AM

I’m not as big a travel fan as you are, but I am pretty attached to the things I own from my car, laptop, house, and all the cool gadgets I have. It gives me some security and a status symbol. While experiences do make me happy, I feel if I just traveled and didnt have any possessions I would feel very insecure and inferior compared to others. Plus, I wouldn’t attract a mate.. or it’d be hard to. It’s how society is.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM

You are right that this is how society is. And there isn’t anything wrong with being attached to material things, that is, unless it conflicts with a growing personal mission. I, too, love my gadgets, but in the process of changing my lifestyle I also inadvertently changed my perception of consumerism. Now, I buy less. I really try to reuse things. It has been a good change for me.

But I would never let my possessions define who I am.

AddieNo Gravatar August 13, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I sold nearly everything before traveling for 3 years.

Because my partner and I spent almost one of those years in one place (and we rented a house), we ended up buying a lot of the things we had rid ourselves of. When we left, we just repeated the cycle: selling/donating all again.

The difference for me, when I buy things, is I think of how they will resell. I make sure they look like (and are) quality goods. I buy wood furniture, and even though it’s used, it is later worth more than particle board. I purchased many items that I sold later for a profit.

So traveling has definitely changed the way I approach buying.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 5, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Hi Addie, sounds like you have a healthy cycle going here. Very cool that travel has helped you find a method of consumption that both works for you and is respectful.

AndiNo Gravatar August 10, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Always go with the middle path! 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 24, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Hey Andi, I think that’s generally good advice.

WanderingtraderNo Gravatar August 9, 2010 at 5:05 PM

You know I am a firm believer in everyone makes time (and obviously spends money) on what’s important to them. What I find truly interesting is how travellers do tend to buy things overseas and collect them, money, license plates, art.

So in a way even if you haven’t fulfilled that back home aren’t you fulfilling that overseas in a way when you have a huge collection of money or necklaces from every country around the world? Is it not the same thing?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 10, 2010 at 3:34 PM

I think it’s a related impulse, yes. Isn’t it interesting? As I mentioned in my comment to Erica, this discussion isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about finding the right balance for yourself.

EricaNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 6:32 PM

I feel like Shaun and I somehow fall into the middle ground here.

To be free of all your materials is a hard task. Our travels are so incredibly important to us right now. We’re still on the road of self discovery and trying to figure out who and what we want to do with our lives. Being as we are in our late 20s, I still think its an appropriate thing to do.

Saying that we have not sold ALL our things. We still are going to be paying for a car, car insurance, school loans (for a degree I don’t use – yay for FILM!). These are things we had written into our budget. We still have our car when we get back, some very basic things to start a home (if we want), and a tool box for collateral if anything pops up. We are giving ourselves the option to travel with the backup plan to come home.

If we want to continue traveling when we get home we will sell everything.

Is it a bad thing to keep that emergency line set up? This is our first major trip so I don’t think so but it would be interesting to see what people have to say.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 10, 2010 at 3:32 PM

No, I don’t think it’s bad. It sounds like you two have done a lot of thinking about your situation and things. I’m not advocating that we all sell everything we own – lord knows I won’t be doing that – I simply wanted to make people think about their relationship with stuff.

soultravelers3No Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Interesting thoughts!

We sold everything, including a large, impossible-to-replace-there “dream home” and vineyard (that we worked hard in creating with lots of sweat equity), so that we could have more freedom for our open ended world family trip that began in 2006.

Surprisingly, since we have always lived a frugal life, don’t believe in over consumption and lived by the same principals that we do now, we didn’t have as much “stuff” as most people our age. It was an incredibly hard decision to make in 2005, but now that we live that “lightness of being” globetrotting freedom way, we find we really need so little. Simplicity makes life so much more rewarding, yet we still love to bask in luxury, we just don’t have to own it and maintain it all.

I’m often amazed at how much even travelers think they need to consume ( we have no smart phone, ipad, ipod, Kindle, nintendo ds for the kidlet etc & still use the same laptops we started with, still wearing the same shoes and many of the same few clothes etc).

We have had LOTS of time to look and consider these issues. Travel doesn’t really costs much, maintaining stuff does. We’ve been living large while traveling the world on just 23 dollars a day per person and much of that has been in “expensive” Europe so far. The best things in life ARE free and it’s so easy to get caught up with materialism while living in America. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to leave as I didn’t want our child growing up in such an over consuming environment, because in such a place it becomes hard to sort out what one needs and what one endlessly desires.

Traveling keeps one more present with the ever present now, so that in itself is such a gift. In today’s fast paced, always plugged in world, I think time and simplicity may be the greatest riches and a certain kind of slow travel and slow food makes it easier to experience daily.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 10, 2010 at 3:25 PM

This is truly an inspiring tale. You must have had strong and persistent reasons to sell off the dream home and vineyard. I like how you put it: “travel doesn’t really cost much, maintaining stuff does.” I totally agree.

Congratulations on being your own master!

JaymuNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 7:14 AM

Keith this was some of your finest, most insightful writing yet. Nice work.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Hi Jaymu, glad you enjoyed this.

ClaireNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 7:01 AM

As someone recently married, and therefore responsible for twice the amount of stuff I had before, I have been pondering a subject along these same lines. Except for shoes, (a huge weakness) I have prided my myself on being somewhat of a minimalist. I have a few antique piece of furniture, my clothes, and my travel artifacts. That’s it. I never even had my very own place and so I never needed to acquire the household goods. The week I got married, that all changed when I had to go out and buy a toilet plunger. I was in Target, toilet plunger in hand, thinking “I now own a toilet plunger…what does this mean for my travels?” I’m not kidding. I was feeling that the acquisition of such an item inherently meant something else, other than its obvious intended use. A bit dramatic? Probably. But what I imagine, is a reality for many—the more things we have, the less easy it is to pick up and go.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 9:09 AM

I definitely had this same feeling when I got married. We had an apartment prior to buying a house, but once we got the house suddenly we needed to fill it with all the mundane accoutrements “needed” to make a home. In my opinion, we registered for things we didn’t really need (don’t tell Sarah I said this) and it resulted in an almost out-of-body experience seeing ourselves trapped in this cycle of purchases as social norms. Yuck.

To be fair, a plunger is a tool you probably should’ve had already 🙂

ClaireNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 10:12 AM


SuzyNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 2:36 AM

Thought provoking piece as usual. Travel does seem to be this escape from the material but at the same time it is the material. It is definitely a game of ping pong it would seem. While I didn’t sell all of my belongings to travel this summer (I didn’t really have anything to sell), I have noticed how incredibly simplistic my purchasing is here in Europe. Rather than shopping for clothing, etc. I keep saying, “I would rather have that money for Portugal or Spain.” In the end, I will just be spending there on accommodations, food, etc. The cycle continues, but the experiences in the long run are worth more. I guess the acquiring of experience could be seen as more of positive than the acquiring of things just for the sake of having them. Then again, some people travel just to have a passport stamp. Alright, headed to get that aspirin now…

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I’ve got plenty of aspirin to go around. Some might dismiss this line of thought as a “who cares, I enjoy traveling and I don’t need to analyze everything behind it.” I, however and obviously, think it’s important to understand the impulses behind our actions. It’s almost always complicated, but also hugely enriching and fulfilling to understand.

Johnny QuestNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 8:17 PM

Love the idea of “lightness of being.”

And for further study may i direct you to the vastly underrated film Brewster’s Millions

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Hey Johnny, I’ll need to check that movie out. Sounds familiar, but I can’t envision it. Have you read Kundera’s The Incredible Lightness of Being? Incredible book.

Johnny QuestNo Gravatar August 6, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Classic 80’s film – Richard Pryor and John Candy. and yes.. great ICL is a great novel.

Sofia - As We TravelNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Great post Keith! I used to be someone who couldn’t have enough things, especially not enough clothes and shoes. It wasn’t until I started traveling for longer periods of time when I understood how much crap I had that I really didn’t need or even wanted.
I think you have a great point in that we’re more addicts than owners of our possessions, they really make us more unhappy than anything else.

The less stuff you have, the less you have to worry about them!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Hey Sofia, traveling definitely puts possessions in perspective. It demands a reckoning that we’re able to escape on a normal daily basis.

AndreaNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 9:27 AM

I’m completely feeling this right now…in the “The things you own end up owning you”/ Tyler Durden sense that you mentioned. We’re four months away from our next RTW trip and I’m feeling hostile towards paying bills and all the maintenance of our flat and endless errands, etc. etc. (the time consuming aspect of these more than the actual cost). I’ve already started selling off our possessions (actually just wrote a post about this on tips for staying mobile and minimalist if you plan to move around a lot). Life’s just better when you’re free and on the road. Why is that true for some of us and not for others? Is it ego? Some people feel they have to show-off: big houses, flashy cars… I have to say that I had a pretty comfortable upbringing so maybe I just take material things for granted. But i’ve also read quite a few people’s writings who grew up with few possessions and wanted to live the high life, only to find it very unsatisfying once they reached whatever their “top” was. All I know is that I prefer to keep possessions to a minimum and spend money on food and travel instead!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:55 PM

Hi Andrea. I think I agree with your point of view. I won’t have the option of selling everything, but I’ve come to view a possession-focused life as one of distraction from what’s important. I’m talking who are caught up in their things and organize their lives one or another around them. It’s ultimately an individual choice, but I’m glad I’ve realized experiences are my priority.

AndrewNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 3:07 AM

Again a deep and interesting read, Keith.
I quite like the phrases around chronicling and collecting being some way to circumvent the mortality of things. If we can have something from a trip, we can not forget it or it’s influence. Somehow the mental experience of things feels not permanent enough. I just went through this thought pattern yesterday a bit writing a post on how souvenirs distract from the experience of travel. When stuff and objects with their “sense” of permanence replaces life, it seems to further the circle to feel more secure in stuff. It also prevents us from living in the moment.
I love movies and quote images from them. In the 1980’s Labyrinth, there is a goblin carrying all kinds of trash on her back to not forget her life. The irony is that in trying to not forget things we distract both from the present and the future. That seems to fit with your concept of using RAM to maintain things.
Maybe somehow the sense needs to be “feel free to forget”, if that means being open to something better.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Great comment, Andrew. Some readers might scoff at these ideas, but they’re lurking just beneath the activities we engage almost as if on autopilot.

I like the “feel free to forget” idea, but here’s one problem. Most people are notoriously bad and obstinate about being ok with letting things go. In some way, we’re too sentimental.

AndrewNo Gravatar August 4, 2010 at 11:23 PM

I think a key point is you don;t miss your possessions. When I’m travelling I don’t need or miss those posessions I’ve left at home as I’m enjoying new adventures. I agree though its the over consumption we try and escape, but also when traveling we have to be careful not to over travel (is there such a thing you might say). Well yes in the sense that too much of anything, without a change of pace/focus can lead to an under appreciation of what we have!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:40 PM

Yes, that is a good point. How often are you off galavanting somewhere and thinking about your stuff sitting at home? It’s true, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way. Missed people and routines, yes. Not stuff though.

Thanks Andrew!

James CravenNo Gravatar August 4, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Great article!
I’ve been to 67 countries & 44 states in 1st, 2nd & 3rd class, but one of my best trips started with $100, carrying everything I owned and lasted 2 months…
My buddy & I left Miami on a ’61 Harley & a ’64 BSA each with $100 & 2 months to get to college in Boston. Basic plan was to drift up the Appalachian Trail to CT during July, work construction during Aug & end up in Boston by Sept. Educated types (remember we hadn’t been to college yet) would have turned back the first day due to rain, we made two rules, no backtracking & no interstates. After a couple of days we entered the underground (new at that time) in Atlanta. Waking up in a graveyard attached to a small church the next day, the only clear sky was to the west; we ran out of money in Steamboat Springs, CO. Worked construction laying pipe, made it back to Sioux Fall, SC where my buddy crashed his BSA. Bunked-in above a motorcycle shop, fixed bike, worked a week, entered Canada at Duluth, MN, reentered the lower 48 at Niagara; late to school by a week. The time of our lives!
Of course there”s a lot more, for another time…
The thing is, money and things can get in the way, as Nike says, Just do it!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:38 PM

James – what a story! Sounds destined to grace the pages of book. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Trans-Americas JourneyNo Gravatar August 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Another thoughtful post & great read. Keep this up I’m going to start thinking of you more as a philosophy & wisdom blogger

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Heh, I’ve got lots of time to think right now. Though, to be fair, I don’t suppose I’ll stop writing like this. I appreciate the compliment, guys. Thanks!

JoelNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Some fantastic points. As I sold off everything for my travels, it made me acutely aware of how much stuff I accumulated for no reason. I had a LOT of stuff and used almost none of it.

On the contrary, when I got home and saw stacks of unwatched DVDs and unread books, it did nothing but add to my stress levels. What an awful loop to be caught in!

Now, living with nothing more than I can carry on a bike, I am astounded by how little I miss (a full size computer being the lone example).

My RTW could end tomorrow but the change within me is already dramatic.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 8:28 PM

I think I feel that guilt of unused things, too. I’m what you could call an overly-sentimental person (Sarah’s even worse) so I tend to get disarming images of dusty books with puppy dog eyes and so forth. Possessions add to my mental background processing, like there’s a little bit more RAM required to keep things in maintenance. I’d love to clear them out.

Really awesome to hear that your experience has already changed you so deeply, Joel!

Thom and SeanNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Hi Keith,

excellent post; yes we have sold everything (almost everything) and I remember when we did so we said to each , why did we buy all this stuff? Why have we sold so many books – we should have supported our local library and saved ourselves some money!

I completely understand the need to purchase, when we started saving one of the most difficult things to get over was going shopping without purchasing anything. Now that we’re on the road the gift shop is a place we go to get postcards and laugh at the toot. Previously we’d have bought that toot and put it on a shelf at home.

It’s difficult to know what we’ll do when we get home because that is so far away and as yet we don’t know where home will be BUT I think we’ll be more likely to try and use the essence of a thing or experience in the decoration of our future home(s). However, I do like toot and it brings me no end of joy so will probably get some more but I’m much more considerate now of bugger purchases – expensive and resource consuming things and I hope that won’t change.

I’d also like to maintain my view of each £, $ Dong or Yen in terms of what that could get me in another country because I’m sure we’ll want to visit lots of different places for extended holidays whenever we find that home.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Hey guys, sounds like you flipped your purchasing priorities from “stuff” to “experience.” Seems to happen to a lot of travelers. I like your last take-away point, that you’ll try to consider purchases in terms of another country’s currency. Keeps things in perspective and that’s always a good thing. I really appreciate the comment!

JennaNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 1:04 PM

This is a really interesting post. One thing I have thought about a lot over the last couple years is that, in a way, travel is a form of acquisitiveness, and I honestly struggle with that. Even the travel gear is related to that. And blogging about travel feeds that– I find myself wanting to go to places because I want a certain picture (and I bought an expensive camera partly for that reason).
Yes, I sold/gave away all my stuff to move abroad, but that was when I was 22. It was freeing! I hope to move abroad again and wonder what choices I will make now that I’m older and I have a house, a family, pets, and lots of “stuff.” Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Yes! Traveling can be an acquisition-driven endeavor, but as I point out in the post it can be good or bad. I tend to see blogging and scrapbooking and photography as generally good forms of treating the experience. It’s a sentimental act. I’d be curious to hear how you respond to moving abroad now, too.

JennaNo Gravatar August 5, 2010 at 6:24 PM

I agree about blogging, photography, scrapbooking, etc. being good. I think they are usually very healthy ways of appreciating the experience and expressing creativity.

pamNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 10:31 AM

A lot of thought goes into which pack, which camera, which shoes, which netbook. When we have to carry our stuff, we spend time obsessing about what stuff that is. I know a bunch of travelers who unloaded a lot of stuff, but not their homes — those they rented out — and that’s the ultimate Big Thing to own, a house, isn’t it?

When stuff is a substitute for other things, yeah, there’s a problem. And there’s also a certain meanness in denying yourself nice things if you can afford it — I *like* my couch, where I sit, typing on the Mac (another piece of stuff). There’s a problem when your stuff prevents you from doing what you want because you’re paying for it, too.

Travel isn’t a leave no trace transaction. There’s a paper trail of ticket stubs and laundered bedding. Seems like the ultimate act of no-trace transaction would be to anonymously give to some cause, like protecting polar bear habitat say, (currently obsessed with polar bears, plus, they have no stuff), not spending it on nonmaterial transactions that require stuff — like planes, trains, automobiles — to take place.

Thinky stuff for early in the day. Plus, the fireflies in a jar analogy? Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 8:12 PM

Maybe traceless isn’t the best word. Instead think “unburdening.” When you travel, you aren’t forced to accept some object in return. The result of travel, the experience, is completely ephemeral.

As far as denying yourself things, I think it’s only potentially mean if you deny yourself something that you both want and can afford.

Thanks for the comment, Pam.

GotPassportNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Great GREAT read Keith. We’ve sold, recycled, freecycled and donated as much as possible. NO won’t be cluttering our lives again because we will have enough space only to have the necessities. An RV – when and if we return to the states. What I found from my own experience from the past few years was that I was living for or pleasing someone else believing that buying/having things WAS the norm. In the end, I became resentful and extremely unhappy (depressed) with all the nice and beautiful things surrounding me. I was living in a beautiful home, driving a nice car, in a very stable job w steady income instead of living my dream abroad and serving. Today, I am no longer in pain and no longer aching for a different life. FREE. No regrets whatsoever. This I know for sure.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Interesting, you resented your things because you bought them to please someone else. Sounds like this reaction to things was more of a symptom of the dissonance between your actual life and your ideal life. I’m happy to hear you’ve corrected your path!

GotPassportNo Gravatar August 4, 2010 at 1:21 AM

It’s a lot more complicated than the reactions, the symptoms etc as you summarize it here. This would require me to write a whole new post that I think I’ve been avoiding to write. And that will probably piss-off a lot of family members. Maybe one day.. or maybe never. We’re here where we need/want to be and I’ll settle for that.

ayngelinaNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 9:51 AM

As a foodie and a traveler I see it’s a simple connection. Food is all about experience, just as travel is. It’s about understanding the culture by meeting the people and getting a peek into how they live.

I sold all of my things, I didn’t have much and I miss none of it. I choose to spend money on experience rather than objects. But no traveler can say that they aren’t a consumer. By the very act of traveling we’re consuming.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 3, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Yes, I agree that “consumption” is a key, perhaps overlooked, element of this discussion. The thought that sparked this post was something along the lines of “are travelers just materialists in another guise?” Possibly. Sometimes. For me, writing this helped me redefine “good” and “bad” in terms of materialism and over-consumption.

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