“Man is by nature a political animal.” -Aristotle
Any day you read the news, you are inevitably going to read something to do with politics. It doesn’t matter what country you are in, news about governance is always present in the minds of the population. We all formulate our own opinions about how things are going or should be going, but how informed are we about the politics of other countries?
There is no escaping the impact that politics have on a traveling experience. When we go to other countries, we will encounter a wide variety of wonderful things and they will all be the result of policy making at some stage. Whether you are visiting the free museums in London, or using Buenos Aires’ city biking system, you will be interacting with issues that weigh on the locals psyche. Wherever you end up going, we suggest the following ideas in order to properly discuss politics while abroad.
First off, knowing who is running the country in your next destination is a pretty simple minimum. We expect people to know who runs Canada, and we should also educate ourselves on the heads of other states. We don’t necessarily have to be familiar with all of their ideas, but knowing the name, and maybe the party they represent will at least give you some talking points with the locals that you meet. It shows interest and it is as simple as typing in a few words on google!
Second, any time you travel, you may want to know if there is political unrest or even conflicting elections that may be coming up. Understanding the dynamics of current situations will help you navigate your travels in the safest way possible. The government of Canada has a great service that advises you on the warning signs of all other locations. Not only will you have a good idea of the dangers, but you are also able to sign up so that the government is aware that you may be visiting that country. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
Next, it is good to be reminded that politics is a touchy subject. Not everyone is comfortable with talking about it and not every culture provides the proper context for neither. Countries like Cuba, China and Venezuela may be a little less receptive to western ideas of freedom of speech. Even when we go south of the border, you know that there is a lot of polarity in opinion. Be aware of current issues and tread lightly. Sometimes it good to ask about other’s opinions rather than stating our own. This way of thinking will also allow us to understand different perspectives.
We don’t have to be experts in International Relations theory, nor do we have to be political scientists. We are just advising one another to become a little bit more aware of some basic international information.
Wikipedia will usually provide us with a simple breakdown of a country’s history, and The Lifestyle Project is more than happy to provide you with a variety of local news sources. It never hurts to be informed, and also, reading the local paper while sipping your coffee will simply help you engage with the locals in a more understanding way.
Let’s be engaged travellers, and let’s travel safely.
Let’s change the way we travel, together.
The Lifestyle Project