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How travel is an important form of education
By Edwin Kis'sanya

Image [Pixabay]

On January 24 every year, the world marks the International Day of Education but learning is a continuous process that is not confined within the walls of a classroom.

Thousands of students around the world travel in search of an education, but there are lessons to be learnt and life skills to be acquired simply by travelling.

Here are five life lessons you’ll learn by travelling: 

  1. Things about yourself

It’s been said that the best way to get to know someone is to travel with them but travelling solo can also reveal so much about one’s personality. It can open your eyes to your own humanity. You learn about how mindful you are of yourself, other people and the space you occupy at any given time. For example, you may never know how compassionate you are unless you meet someone who truly needs help. 

By travelling, you leave your comfort zone and find yourself in situations and places you’ve never been before and often with complete strangers.  And then you learn new things about yourself: your biggest fears, how frugal you are, or how clingy you are to your partner (you may never know if you always travel as a couple.)

Travelling opens our eyes to ourselves and new ideas and alters the perceptions we have about ourselves, the people we travel with, those we meet, the new places we go to and the ones we return to.

The more you travel independently, the more social skills you acquire along the way and in the end, you’ll become acutely aware of your real persona - you’ll get to know your truest potential as a human being.

2.      You learn to be culturally sensitive 

We can read about other cultures all we like, watch about them on television or simply Google them but this barely scratches the boundless surface in which a community’s culture is woven. Worse still, this can be misleading given that the cultural data or materials we consume from the comfort of our desks and living rooms are packaged based on what its producers want to get out there. 

The good thing is, you can get an unbiased picture of a community’s culture by travelling to meet the people practising it. You’ll learn about their social expectations, food and lifestyle choices. 

But here’s the caveat - one or two men’s mannerism is not a reflection of their community’s way of life. That means you have to keep travelling to expose yourself to many cultures to become more culturally sensitive and tolerant. 

Travelling will enable you to see the world through your own eyes and doing it more often will widen your world view.

3.      You learn to be patient

Travelling can thrust you into stressful situations where your routines are broken but you are forced to spend time waiting, patiently. 

Take, for example, you miss a flight, it is cancelled or delayed or your booking fails to go through.

If it’s your first time confronting such challenges, you could lose patience but if you’ve been there before, you’ll be aware that there are answers to the problem but impatience is not one of them. For a constant traveller, you’ll have a contingency plan in place already, buying travel insurance for example.

4.      You learn to speak new languages 

The best way to learn a new language is to stay with its native speakers. That way, you will have no choice but to learn to speak it. Travelling could throw you into such a situation where you have to make an effort to learn a foreign language.

By learning a new language you will be able to connect with its native speakers in a way that other foreigners can’t.

5.      You learn to be financially responsible 

For most people, it would take strong willpower to save for a trip, but for a travel enthusiast, saving for the next vacation is often top on their to-do list.

You may not be the type who travels a lot but one trip could change your perception about it and turn you into a gallivanter (a cool word referring to a person who travels in search of amusement, fun or adventure).

But before you acquire that title, you will have developed creative skills to save for your next vacation and will have learnt how to prepare financially for an overseas trip. 

Travelling gives you financial prudence. And what’s amazing is that the lessons you learn by saving, budgeting and spending while travelling will stay with you for life.

Patience can be painful but it gives us the toughness we need in life and you can develop it through travelling.