THE GOOD EARTH

It used to be that people went on holiday to get away from it all, to taste the exotic and see how the rest of the planet lives. No more. These days people are more inclined to use travel as a way to affirm their connection to humanity, to measure the things we all have in common. It's less about being jolted out of your own world than about feeling bolted to the wider one. As travel becomes increasingly affordable to the middle classes--and as even the earth's most remote reaches become accessible--the ease and prevalence of globe-trotting is creating a new breed of traveler: the global citizen. Rather than feel like an outsider looking in, the global citizen is at home wherever he goes, and feels as connected to--and responsible for--any Himalayan village or Amazonian rain forest or African desert on the itinerary as he does to his own hometown.

This desire to belong to the world is perhaps an outgrowth of the lingering vulnerability engendered by 9/11--and, more recently, last December's tsunami, which killed nearly 300,000 people from 56 countries. The relief effort, which raised more than $6 billion from as many as half of all nations, made up the largest single such outpouring in history, and underscored just how far the sense of ownership reached. To the global citizen, tragedy--and triumph, for that matter--knows no boundaries. Grappling with such heartache makes us stronger, and binds us to one another. And rather than diminish our desire to travel, it actually compels us on our way.

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