Travel + Leisure's Editor in Chief Nathan Lump on how travelers can be ambassadors to the world.

By Nathan Lump
November 09, 2016
The American flag.
Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Today is a tough day to be an Internationalist.

More so than most other labels—political or otherwise—that is how I define myself, as someone who believes in the power that comes from engaging with the world. It forms the basis of most of the work I’ve done in my life, and it is why I got involved in travel more than two decades ago.

I believe that travel, anywhere but especially across borders, expands minds, open hearts, makes us more tolerant and understanding of difference and lives, cultures, creeds that are different from our own.

Everything we know about president-elect Trump’s policy positions suggests that he is not my kind of Internationalist. We see a propensity to antagonize other countries, a bellicosity in action and rhetoric that could lead us into armed conflict or provoke terrorism, a desire to shrink rather than expand our worldview by building walls, both figurative and literal.

Anyone who travels knows what it means to be an ambassador. When we leave our country we become a representative of where we come from, a living and breathing example of our collective beliefs and values. Traveling during the Obama years was a dream; the world once again saw us as our best selves, America as a country of openness and opportunity, a place to be admired.

I worry what it will be like to travel in a Trump presidency. I know from my recent travels to Europe, to Australia, to Latin America what the dominant opinion is of him out there, and the fear and anxiety that he incites.

More importantly, I worry that our new policies and the events they may provoke will curb travel, perhaps significantly. That would be an enormous loss, both economically and for the good of humanity. If we stop traveling, we stop engaging, we stop understanding, we stop growing as people and as a society.

Whatever your political beliefs, I hope all those who love travel will remain committed to seeing and exploring the world in the coming years, and will try to serve as a proud ambassador of all that is good about our country. The world will need to see our example, to be reminded that we are decent people who have not slid into hatred, divisiveness, and isolationism.

The world will need Internationalists more than ever. Join me.