What are we supposed to get out of moving about the world? And should we have the same mind set whether on our summer holiday or using our time to just be somewhere else for no particular reason?

My last trip seems to have brought this pondering on. Would I come back with some knowledge that I couldn’t gain in my own country? Are people really so different around the world? Why was I there?

A young girl of about eight tried to take my camera and a homeless lady with bags and bundles of clothes was permanently stationed outside Gucci.

The tour companies play on the fact that we all work hard and need a break. Fine. But do we need to go abroad? Take all our neuroses to other innocent people and claim we’re there because we deserve to be. Seems to be what we do.

Because I was in Naples, people asked, ‘Did you see Pompeii?’ ‘No.’ ‘Vesuvius?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did you have a day in Rome?’ ‘No.’ ‘The amphitheatre?’ ‘No.’ I saw Naples in action.

A young girl of about eight tried to take my camera and a homeless lady with bags and bundles of clothes was permanently stationed outside Gucci.

The vision and expectation is always less than the reality of being somewhere new.

Small differences like the way I was tolerated when standing in an awkward place to take a photo; or how staff exercised patience when I couldn’t get across what I needed to because of the language barrier but was still treated with civility (to my face at least); and the way drivers would sound their horns persistently when stuck at rush hour. These seemingly small courtesies and cultural differences are what I brought home. And they make me think about what they say about the country/town.

We ate with natives and jostled in the markets where Neapolitans shopped for food, shoes and underwear.

Is this travel enriching the individual? It feels like a sort of ‘Been there, done that’ log. Consumed the entire country with one sloppy image. What’s the point?

You can see the place you’re in by looking, not by doing the sights. There were senior and elegant women in chunky boots, socks and bold dresses. The young people didn’t seem to adhere to any teen clothes’ rule: some wore flares, slim jeans, others skirts over trousers; flowing dresses, high heels, masculine shoes, the elegant mingled with the casual and individual. And I was relieved to see women with a hair colour other than blonde.

They talked a lot and had an ice-cream/sweet and coffee break around 4.00pm. Crossing the road requires a pioneering spirit and you almost need to do it alone: drivers seem to cater for one person crossing at a time. Red lights? They’ll choose whether to stop at them.

This is the essence of travel. I may one day see the historic places in Naples. I might not. I don’t think it will embellish my few days there or enlighten me about the character of Naples.

Neither am I ready for the Ray Mears approach. But I don’t think travel needs to contain a list of ingredients and if they’re not in there, we haven’t got the whole experience.

I have an acquaintance who travels much more and much further than I do. I get Facebook updates many times a day. Some of the images posted break my heart. Like one from Kathmandu showing a small group of old gentlemen outside a temple. Is this travel enriching the individual? It feels like a sort of ‘Been there, done that’ log. Consumed the entire country with one sloppy image. What’s the point?

Well that’s a bit harsh. Neither am I ready for the Ray Mears approach either. But I don’t think travel needs to contain a list of ingredients and if they’re not in there, we haven’t got the whole experience.

I have another acquaintance who won’t go back to Spain after staying in Benidorm for a week. Aw, didn’t they invite you for tapas and offer to pay for all the beer you can hold then put on a flamenco show and offer to babysit your unappealing offspring? Well, how rude of them. Especially when the travel brochure talked of Spanish hospitality and their commitment to family. (Their own, I might add.)

We can all be a bit haughty about travel – we probably all think we do it is right. And sure, there’s no on right way to travel. We’re unbelievably lucky though and for that reason should ask ourselves what we hope to get out of any travel.

Discard your prejudices and don’t blindly accept what travel guides and Trip Advisor buffs say.

Then I promise you will enjoy yourself!

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