Travel Is All About the Profoundly Local Moments That Can't be Replicated

A passport unlocks a world of experiences for you, and it opens up a part of you that you may never have known.

It’s nearly impossible to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

You may never have been to Paris. But you’ve probably glimpsed the famous structure countless times—in paintings, inside snowglobes, in romantic comedies.

In fact, you’ve probably seen the Eiffel Tower so often that getting up close and personal with the real thing may even seem like a disappointment. You’ve created something even more majestic in your head, and reality is a letdown.

It could be enough to make you think that travel isn’t worth it.

But you’d be dead wrong.

Sure, you’ve tasted a croissant. But if you stay in a gorgeous Parisian neighborhood, you’ll know the name of the patissier who baked that slice of heaven moments earlier. You’ll discover her favorite café around the corner. And you might run into an accordion-and-tuba dance troupe performing at the intersection.

That’s what travel is all about. The profoundly local moments that just can’t be replicated. The tiny details that show you new ways to be delighted. The times when you discover that you’re a little bit more courageous, intrepid, and creative than you ever thought you were.

And that’s why you need a passport.

Not to know what a place looks like, but what it feels like. And, more importantly, to let you be yourself in a different context. It’s like being a whole new person.

A passport unlocks a world of experiences for you, and it opens up a part of you that you may never have known.

At Airbnb, we believe in the power of the passport. That’s why at the end of 2012, we created passport covers for each employee. To celebrate our commitment to the local and the unique, we didn’t mass produce these gifts: they were handcrafted by a team of local artisans at Glaser Designs right here in San Francisco.


Each corner of the world is filled with these profoundly personal, wonderful moments. And each of these moments has the potential to change who we are.

Even seeing the Eiffel Tower with your very own eyes.

Vivek Wagle is the Head of Content at Airbnb

This post is part of the GOOD community's 50 Building Blocks of Citizenship—weekly steps to being an active, engaged global citizen. This week: Get a Passport. Follow along and join the conversation at and on Twitter at #goodcitizen.

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