Why Travel is the Most Important Form of Education in 2018
The World is a book and those who do not travel read only one page - Saint Augustine of Hippo.
If cash is burning a hole in your pocket, or you’ve spent the past year slaving to your savings, now is the time to use those proceeds to further your education. And by education we mean, book an adventure. Travel. Go! Do it now.
Real-world experiences and immersive escapes will teach you more than any book, lecturer or parent ever can. Yes, we all love walking through offbeat city streets, snapping up bargain souvenirs and taste testing local beers and new cuisines, yet travel offers so much more than the opportunity to get your ‘gram on from abroad. While inciting jealousy via social media as you party, meditate and hike in some foreign land will have your followers in a frenzy, it’s the experiences you gain in the process that are the real win.
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Education today is so largely geared towards life and lessons relevant to Western culture, and so we grow comfortable, become accustomed, and develop a tunnel-vision-like mindset. It’s important to widen this before we get old, senile, and set in our narrow-minded ways. So how, when and where can you seek out these infinite teachings? Well, the good news is, everywhere.
Whether your bucket list has you heading to Africa, South-East Asia, chasing ski seasons or Europe-bound, immersive travel experiences worldwide can impact your character, values, morals and even your sense of identity, making it one of the greatest life lessons you will ever embark on. Read on for our top life lessons you can gain through travel; the best way to get educated in our opinion.
It probably goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway; budgeting = life Lesson 101. Saving for a trip can be tedious at times, and takes damn-strong willpower and discipline, but is always worth it in the end. Sacrificing coffees here, beers there, bringing lunch over buying it and re-wearing outfits is a great way to start. As you begin to see the savings pile up, you will be encouraged to build on this. Next minute, you’re on that Greek Island, and it was all worth it.
Part two is about the savings you must make while travelling. Small sacrifices, thrifty forward planning and budgeting during the vacation is just as important, those funds need to stretch. Whether it’s two weeks, two months or a year, you will be thanking your former self. Picture yourself in the future, saving for a house, a family, or investments; it’s same same but different. The lessons you learn by saving in your youth will be forever valuable, and the benefits will follow.
Think back to high school; learning about World Wars, Political leaders, civilisations and major historical events. How much can you remember from those dusty books and long-winded lectures? Probably not much. But go to the Berlin Wall; touch it and take in its historical significance while it stands before you, in the flesh. Do the same at the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, the Stonehenge in the UK, Statue of Liberty in New York or the Pyramids in Egypt, and we doubt you’ll be forgetting their stories too fast.
Cultural Sensitivity = Tolerance
Travel exposes you to new and often very different cultures that will open your eyes and then your mind to new ways of thinking, doing, and living. Being faced with a new culture means facing everything it entails, because you are living it daily. Being exposed to new people, their ways, personalities, priorities, traditions, appearances and values is slowly, but surely, bound to increase your tolerance levels, which increase when we watch and learn through another’s perspective.
At first you might just want to sit back and take it all in, but then the learning will come, you might start to partake, really throw yourself into it. And that might just make you a little softer, a little more accepting, and you might have a damn good time in the process. Because underneath all the differences, the variation between your world and theirs, you will likely start to uncover common similarities too. This lesson, when you take the time to let it all sink in, will assist you in understanding, communicating, and accepting differences in others. Instead of fearing the unknown, you will learn to accept, even embrace it, and then it won’t be unknown for long.
Travel breaks up routines, puts you in sometimes stressful or confronting situations, throws you into other people’s space, and people into yours. Things don’t always go as planned. In less affluent countries, public transport may rarely leave on time, or go exactly where you were hoping. Some accommodation might be different to how it was advertised; perhaps you won’t have access to hot water, Internet, air conditioning, or even basic electricity.
Sometimes you might arrive to find you booking never made it through, or was lost in translation. You might not always understand people or processes, and you will probably have to spend time waiting. Often.
This process will teach you that impatience doesn’t make things come faster, fix miscommunications, get you the food you thought you had ordered or heat up a cold shower. Sometimes you just have to wait, take deep breaths, and enjoy the situation for what it is. You’re in a new place, you’re on holidays, so enjoy it and don’t stress the small stuff. You might see some things you hadn’t noticed before, and have an opportunity to enjoy something spur of the moment. Always remember that some of the best memories you will make, will be the ones that were never planned.
As time and life go on, our ability to store new information and learnings decreases, things don’t simply become ‘second nature’ as easily. Languages are a wonderful example of this. If you haven’t grown up speaking a second language, chances are you’re not much use beyond English, emojis and text chat. Yet spend six months backpacking through South America, pick grapes in France or take a nanny role in Brazil and those won’t be much use.
You will have no choice but to put anything you’ve attempted, or learnt, into practice every single day, and within a few weeks you will practically be fluent. You simply won’t have a choice; try bartering for that Italian leather handbag you can’t live without or finding a quirky backstreet bar in Argentina. These first-hand situations will have you saying “Necesito urgentemente el baño” faster than you had ever imagined.
There is a myriad of ways that travelling is the best form of education, with countless life lessons to be gained, but ultimately we also want to improve ourselves. Travelling does this in more ways than you could imagine; personal growth is an outcome of all of the above lessons and many more. Travel builds confidence, gives you thicker skin, encourages you to break out of your comfort zone, and moulds your character.
It encourages independence, decision making, and compassion and improves your social skills. It encourages you to let your walls down and be yourself, the real you, without any preconceived notions, history, or external influences. The people you meet travelling don’t judge you for where you work, what you’re studying, where you went to school, or who your older siblings are. They are there to meet like-minded people, make some amazing memories and possibly life-long friends.
At the end of the day, education should not only assist us to better our livelihoods, our immediate circle and our quality of life but increase our ability to contribute positively to the greater good. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that the best lesson of all?