Why Anthony Bourdain Says It's OK to Be an 'Idiot Abroad'
Anthony Bourdain is a self-aware traveler who globe trotters everywhere can learn from.
In an in-depth interview with LiveMint, Bourdain revealed a softer, more vulnerable and understanding side to his travel adventures on his Emmy-winning show "Parts Unknown." He also shared the fact that the show isn't just about food.
Really, he means it.
“We don’t have to stick to food,” Bourdain said. “When we went to Congo, we understood that this was not going to be a food show. Our agenda changes depending on our interest.”
Bourdain continued: “It’s nice (when it involves food), because I know something about food, but I don’t necessarily know about anything else.”
In the self-deprecating interview, Bourdain also shared that he may not know it all, but that’s ok because "it’s not bad to be the idiot abroad if you’ve got an open mind."
And the host pointed to another issue within travel, especially travel for a television program, explaining: “All of us understand that there is an exploitative aspect to what we do. There are often consequences of our having put a place, a cuisine or a culture on television. We understand that, and try, like doctors, to do no harm.”
Bourdain will also be the first to acknowledge that being able to travel the world, eat in new exotic locations, and host a world-wide show is “a privileged place to be for sure,” but for other travelers the message of responsible tourism is no less important.
As travelers, our dollars have power and can change or shape communities around the globe. In fact, as the Pachamama Alliance noted, “The traditional tourism industry often does a lot of damage to local communities, like increasing local property prices and the cost of goods and services while jobs are often seasonal and wages remain low.”
Moreover, constant interaction with Western tourists can lead to an erosion of traditional cultures and values. But there are ways for tourists like Bourdain to visit a place and leave it better than when they arrived.
As Pachamama Alliance suggested, conscious travel can change the game forever. What that means is travelers should set out to plan a trip that involves getting to know a local community and appreciating its own unique traditions, which can be done by picking a tour operator who values this same thing.
Next, spend your money on local goods and services and avoid big-box global shops while traveling. Instead, tourists can purchase local art, eat at a locals-only hot spot, and buy fresh local produce, all of which will have a positive economic impact on the community they are visiting.
Finally, the alliance noted, it’s key for tourists to respect the local environment and leave it just the way they found it.
“Often, the landscape is not just a home for local or indigenous people, it’s sacred and we need to treat it accordingly,” the alliance wrote. “Use public transport, or hire a bike or walk when possible. Slow travel is a great way to see things you normally wouldn’t see while reducing pollution and carbon emissions.”