When my family sits down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, we have a tradition that I actually look forward to even more than the food: We first take a moment to go around the table and share something each of us is particularly thankful for. From the youngest at the table to the eldest, it's a mindful way to take stock of the past year and share our hopes for the future. At Budget Travel, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we hear from you regularly about the travel trends and experiences that you most appreciate. We want to share our thoughts with you, our extended family:
1. Travel makes us more tolerant. Despite the latest wave of bad news around the world, more people are traveling than ever before and we are, of course, firm believers in the power of travel to break down the barriers between cultures. Once you’ve walked the streets of a foreign city, tasted the flavors of its food, and listened to the language, songs, and laughter of its people, you return home with something more valuable than any souvenir, something that can’t be taken away: Empathy.
2. Travel makes us happy. Don’t take our word for it. Numerous studies have suggested over the years that spending money on experiences rather than on possessions makes people happier. The anticipation of planning a trip, the experience itself, and your memories (even the memories of travel fails!) all combine to boost your sense of well-being. We take this research very much to heart when recommending not only big annual vacations but also three-day weekends, road trips, and girlfriend getaways that pack the anticipation/experience/memories into a smaller package.
3. Social media is the new village square. Sure, your feed is sometimes cluttered with other people’s pets, dinner pics, and political musings. But at their best, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest deliver the world to us when we’re looking for trip inspiration or up-to-the minute news, and, in turn, allow us to deliver the world to you.
4. Photography is more accessible than ever. While we understand there’s no substitute for a great camera and a pro photographer (and our photo essays and slideshows certainly prove that), we are extremely thankful that smartphones and tablets have put the means of taking great pics in the hands of so many people. Like the social media platforms where photos get shared, the abundance of fabulous images is making the world a smaller place.
5. Foodies have won. It wasn’t too long ago that traveling meant a strange balancing act between sublime new tastes and bland or flat-out awful food. But restaurants, airports, airlines, food trucks, and a nearly worldwide focus on nutrition and taste (thanks to the pioneering work of food activitists such as Alice Waters) have raised the culinary game across the U.S. and Europe and beyond. And while we're on the subject of giving thanks, please remember that it is easier than ever to help those who don’t have enough to eat (including refugees from the civil war in Syria) by visiting Oxfamamerica.org.