Mar 08

What role does religion play in our travel experiences?



In a recent twitter chat we discussed a whole range of faith based travel destinations, experiences and religious influences that travelers inevitably come upon in their journeys. No matter what affiliation one professes or lack of it, we cannot deny this in a part of the human experience which shapes the architecture, art, customs and manners of human beings around the world.

A help or a hinderance?

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One of the questions that came up in the travel discussion was if religion had been a help or a hinderance in people’s travels. Of course one can identify socio-political struggles or imposing customs which one might not be used to at home as a hinderance and helpful practices might be anything from hospitality to appreciating fine places of worship on a visit. Most weighed in with the helpful option. Religious sites, customs and festivals for the most part are places of welcoming and peace for travelers to observe something new about a culture.


Which destinations offer snapshots of Faith


Every place has its own unique houses of worship and customs, but these places in particular stood out to travelers as unforgettable in the expressions of faith observed in people or culture:

St. Peter’s Basilica Vatican City State 213ed0b1babc3eb56e2c025a6af9f8e7

Temples in Southeast Asia

Portugese Synagogue in Amsterdam

Arlington National Cemetery

Missions of Southern California

St. Catherine’s Sinai

Golden Temple Amritsar, India


River Jordan


General tips about visiting religious sites


We have experienced and agree with other travelers that often it is good to expect certain guidelines from religious sites. People are often content for you to observe but don’t participate unless you are familiar with the rituals or invited to do so, it can seem offensive otherwise. Religious ceremonies are for believers so don’t be disruptive in a religious place when they are occurring. Be aware that there is often a dress code which does not allow for short tops or pants, it is better as a rule to be more formally dressed or at least covered up. Be aware that religious tensions do exist everywhere so do not engage too much if you are not familiar with what is going on. Most of all be differential and respectful and you will be on the good side of most religious sensitivities.




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