Transitions Abroad Magazine July/August 2007 Vol. XXXI, NO.1
Overseas Travel Planner
Get the information and inspiration you need to explore the world. Transitions Abroad’s annual roundup of the best travel resources covers
Back Door Travel by Rick Steves
The Intentional Traveler by Michael McCarthy
International Career Adviser by Jean-Marc Hachey (magazine only)
The Independent Traveler by Rob Sangster
Local Encounters by Michele Peterson
Independent Travel Worldwide
Sicily Rising: In the New Sicily Old Images No Longer Apply Jann Huizenga
Abroad at Home
Travel to Eat
Activist Responsible Traveler
Ask the Expat
There are many stories we could share about Transitions Abroad’s founder Dr. Clay A. Hubbs, who passed away on March 29, but instead we decided to reprint a few articles that speak to his views on travel. It was challenging to pare down our selection, for Clay wrote on a diverse range of subjects from the impact of communications technology on the study abroad field, to volunteering in Ethiopia, to cooking in Tuscany. Clay’s son, Gregory Hubbs, has archived these and other articles.
In this issue’s tribute to Clay, we also included a personal interview that Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to Long-Term Travel, conducted with him in September 2006. I was struck by Clay’s thoughts on how travel and travelers at large have changed. “Travel websites and books today reflect the cowardice and lack of curiosity of so many would-be travelers,” he said. “It seems that now folks like to read about risk-taking travel but they don’t want to do it. They want to find out everything before they go instead of discovering for themselves. They want to travel independently but with the reassurances of a package tour.”
In contrast, Clay wrote of his early travels with his wife Joanna: “If we had followed the advice of guidebooks we would never have taken [our] first trip [tootling off across North Africa and the Middle East in a used VW van, following the path of Alexander the Great]. We took some risks; that’s what made it exciting. But we trusted and listened to the local people, and because we did we were never in serious danger.”
It was non-mainstream travelers for whom Clay started Transitions Abroad. He knew there were others like him and Joanna yearning to explore the world for the sake of experiential education. Although there are now a growing number of travel companies and organizations that offer exemplary trips, in this issue we celebrate the type of independent-minded travel that Clay and Joanna pursued—the type of travel that as Flaubert wrote, “makes one modest…you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
These days we could all use a healthy dose of humility—not least withstanding America’s political leaders. As we face an uncertain future, it’s even more important to recognize, as Clay did in founding Transitions Abroad, that travelers have a special role to play in fostering peace and understanding on a person-to-person level. On page 64 we read about a recently retired senior, Sarah Massey, who traveled among the Berbers of Morocco to learn about Islam and the Muslim way of life; on page 70 blind and sighted high school students work together to climb to Machu Picchu; and on page 72 disability traveler Shonda McLaughlin talks about her experience traveling to the United Arab Emirates to assess the attitudes of people with disabilities there.
These intercultural experiences remind us of our common humanity in spite of significant differences, which although at times may seem insurmountable are less so when we meet and learn to respect “the other.” When United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, visited the U.N. World Tourism Organization in June he touted tourism as a leading way for the least developed countries to increase their participation in the global economy. He also highlighted U.N.W.T.O.’s work on developing and implementing strategies to face the world’s changing climate conditions and to take preventive actions for tourism’s future effects.
Clay felt hopeful about travel as a force for good in the world, and he was heartened to see more and more travelers embracing this concept. You only need to read his articles to see why he believed that all who travel to learn “[w]ill come home changed by their experiences. If not, without the ‘transitions’ or changes that real travel produces, they may as well have stayed home.”