My family has always been dedicated to traveling. I loved almost every second of our trips, although sometimes the heat nearly killed me, and there was one facet of the adventure I looked forward to the most. It wasn’t the rides, the ice cream, or swimming in the ocean, though all of these were high on my list too.
It was the people.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
I always had difficulties with the concept of prejudice, and I have only my past, most specifically my travels, to provide any explanations for this mindset. One of the only things that underwhelmed me about our travels was that we never went too far out of our comfort zones. White was always the major ethnicity, the culture had only minor twists, and I had to search to find the diversity that I so craved. Of course, there are only so many places a family of seven could go to while satisfying everyone.
However, we recently went to our grandest site yet, Hawai’i. Now, Asian ethnicities were the majority. Even though we did some amazing things like snorkeling, parasailing, and standing on an extinct volcano, one of my all-time favorite things to do was just stroll down the streets. Walking through a completely alien culture is an experience that I, at first, was pleasantly overwhelmed with.
When I looked around, almost no one looked like me. The locals were usually half a foot smaller than my already slight stature of 5’2”. The streets flared with rapid, clipped words. Flowers, the likes of which I had assumed only occurred in art pieces, abounded on every lawn and sidewalk. Eating was a terrific new experience filled with shocked, admiring looks at the cook. Learning to absorb a new culture as a minority was an eye-opener to the daily challenges other minorities faced at home, and it was genuinely humbling to realize the extent of the island populace’s kindness. To express how wonderful my out-of-culture experience was is simply beyond words.
In order to complete this picture, there are several little nuances that should be divulged. Travelers have the greatest bag of tricks to make their time truly enjoyable. For example, there are several shops on the islands filled with gorgeous jewelry and knickknacks. Nevertheless, try not to buy anything right off. I have found that several places sell the same objects. Sometimes one store will put a little spin on the piece that makes it unique. Wait and shop a bit before you go for the first thing you see.
Do not wear a fanny pack. For one, it screams tourist, and how is a person supposed to be immersed in the culture when looking like an outsider? Secondly, fanny packs are sirens to people who want to take your stuff. Instead, wear a bag roughly the size of your torso that you can sling around one shoulder and have the bag on the opposite side. It is perfect for carrying little things that you need like cameras, beach paraphernalia, and the all-important sunscreen, which a person should always wear. Who on Earth wants to be in pain while on vacation? There are a million things to do in Hawai’i, try planning things that sound the most important while at home. I saw way too many people rifling through pamphlets in the hotel lounge, only leaving to eat, and not deciding what to do until it was time for them to go home. At all times, the best trick to be armed with is a spontaneous, go-for-it attitude.
Some places you will only go to once, make it count.