Traveling today can be a somewhat monotonous excursion. Many people consider leaving the safety of their home cities and jet setting for another “exotic locale” full of Starbucks and retail clothing chains to be a rewarding adventure. If you really look at it, it seems as if there is very little to gain from this kind of travel except some good photos and a few good stories. But really, what has been discovered? In a world that is rapidly embracing modernity, pricey tags on glitzy hotel rooms and perhaps visiting some churches or national parks seem to be the standard travel experience. Do you really learn anything?
A good travel experience should change you. You cannot gain anything by stepping off a plane and being surrounded by the same things you had at home. A good travel experience separates you from your comfort zone and gives you a fresh new look at the world. Having previously traveled to Belize as an archaeology student, I took in the staggeringly beautiful natural life that Belize has no shortage of. I was surrounded by lush rainforest and everything alive that things like pollution, agriculture and our quest for resources is threatening. I saw how globalization caused by my own Western culture is destroying so much life and beauty. Thus, my empathy and passion to change flourished. You cannot be passionate about a cause if you haven’t experienced it first hand. Studying the Mayan ruins while there was a daunting reminder of what can happen if a society fails.
Eco-tourism destinations such as Chaa Creek are a perfect blend of a real travel experience with the comfort of beautiful accommodations. I can only hope that the entire travel industry takes notice of resorts like Chaa Creek and provides travelers with a lifelong learning experience.